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Poetry Styles for the Fourth Grade

by Nadia Archuleta, studioD

Fourth grade is a time when students have the opportunity to love poetry rather than to fear it. Their reaction to poetry often depends on the styles of poems to which they are exposed. Teachers introduce them to certain styles, including rhyming poems, as well as the language of poetry. Often teachers encourage fourth-graders' love of creating by asking them to write their own poems.

Shape

One style fourth-graders study is shape poems. Concrete poems, also called theme poems, are written in the shape of their topic: A poem about flowers, then, would be shaped like a flower. Teachers often use these poems as a fun way to introduce a poetry unit. Likewise, diamante poems feature the shape of a diamond with each line using specific types of words, such as adjectives or "–ing" verbs. Diamante poems center around either synonyms or antonyms. A similar idea is the acrostic poem. Students use the letters of a topic word at the start of each line; the poem should describe the topic.

Type

Fourth-graders also study specific types of poems. Teachers often introduce them to limericks, a poetry style made popular by Edward Lear. This whimsical, five-line poem features an AABBA rhyme scheme with the A-rhymes functioning as a triplet framing the couplet. The poem turns, usually humorously, with the couplet. Another poetry type for fourth grade is the Japanese verse form of haiku: three lines of five, seven and five syllables, traditionally describing nature. Finally, students often study narrative poems, ones that tell a story, in fourth grade as well.

Rhymed Poetry

Fourth-grade students study different styles of rhymed poetry. They often learn how to identify rhyme scheme, or the pattern of rhyming words in a poem. Couplets, such as those found in limericks, are one rhyming form; they consist of two rhyming lines of the same length. Quatrains are another rhyming style fourth-graders learn about. These four-line stanzas traditionally rhyme in a consistent pattern. Quatrains are the smaller units that make up folk ballads such as "John Henry," or more modern narratives like "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost.

Literary Devices

Teachers often group poetic styles in the fourth grade around literary devices. Students study the simile, a figure of speech in which two unalike things are compared using "like" or "as." "Smile like sunshine" is a simile showing how bright the smile is. Another example of figurative language appropriate for fourth-graders is personification, giving human qualities such as emotion to nonhumans. Emily Dickinson offers an example in "The sky is low" when she states the clouds are "mean," giving them human emotion. Literary devices include sound devices such as alliteration, the repetition of consonant sounds close together. Sometimes tongue twisters such as "rubber baby buggy bumpers" rely on alliteration. Students often encounter poems with these styles of literary devices in fourth grade.

About the Author

Nadia Archuleta has a B.A. in English writing. She spent five years working abroad and has traveled extensively. She has worked as an English as a Foreign/Second Language teacher for 12 years.

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