Nonsense Knows

Time: 20 minutes

What To Do:

  1. Select the poems you chink the children will respond to best beforehand (four or five will do). Many poems are provided in the PDF.
  2. Begin with a silly song to warm up and invite the children to use silly gestures and body movements. You can model these movements for the kids to follow, or they can interpret your instructions. (Examples: shake, shake, shake your rumpus; fly like a wet gizzard ; twirl and twirl as if the sky is falling.)
  3. Using the Word Wizard puppet, ask each child to make up a silly word when the puppet points its wand in his or her direction. Write their words/comments on the flip chart.
  4. Explain to the kids that poetry can be about something silly or nonsensical, or nonsense can be used to write a poem by making up ridiculous words, places and people, or by arranging words in weird ways.
  5. Choose how many poems you want to read and read each one. Ask the kids to talk about why each poem is silly.
  6. You may want to generate a list of particularly silly words or turns of phrases within the poems and ask the children to discuss their meaning. (Or, you can ask the children to be dramatic and act out certain words if you want.)
  7. Pick a poem the children respond well to and ask the children to make up lines for a response poem. These lines should be especially silly. You can give them some warm-up nonsense words such as: gibbergoo, hiramoot, kimmirt, veef, catroo, mackaracka.
  8. You can begin with the title "A Silly Poem." Some kids may want to use gibberish while others will want to focus on a silly situation. For a sample poem generated by a class of four year-olds, consult "Room 202's Silly Poem" below.
  9. Ask the Word Wizard puppet to read the poem back to the kids in a silly voice.
  10. Record the originals and the inventions on paper and make copies for the chil­dren to put in their chapbooks.



To show children how they can use nonsense to turn a poem into lingusitic pleasure.

Education Level: 





Lesson Plan

Time Frame: 

20 minutes

Prior Knowledge/Skills: 

No previous knowledge required.

Required Materials: 

boom box, music, flip chart, markers, a puppet (the Word Wizard), stickers

Literary model: 

Jack Prelutsky, Pauline Clark, Theodore Roethke, Dennis Lee, Ogden Nash

Lesson Plan: