Tip #2: Define It [and 15 Words or Less Poems]

Tip #2: Define it!

Is there one particularly difficult word in the poem? If so, define it for kids before you read the poem. That way, not knowing the meaning of the word won’t stop them from comprehending and enjoying the poem.

Before reading the poem draft below, for example, I would define Kabuki for students, as well as show them a picture if I had access to one.

 

OK, I’m combining my Poetry Tips for Teachers series and my usual Thursday 15 Words or Less activity today. 15WOLers, I missed you in March! I had a wonderful trip, and I’m glad you guys kept enjoying writing poems in my absence:>)

Wake up your poetry brains with 15 Words or Less (guidelines here)!

Here’s a picture and my poem draft, circa 2007!? This image makes me think of:
1) Playland tunnels
2) horror movies
3) the sad clown painting in my parents’ den when I was growing up
And here’s my?first draft.

 
Who Really Wants to Be McHappy?
 
Kabuki face
False surprise
Painted smile
Black, blank eyes
 
?Laura Purdie Salas, all rights reserved

Now it’s your turn! Have fun and stick to 15 WORDS OR LESS!??(Title doesn’t count toward word count:>)? I noticed some of you started writing longer poems while I was away. Tsk! Tsk! I will be a strict taskmaster today!

100 Responses

  1. Girl eating fries
    Lets out a scream
    Mom mutters
    “That’s terrifying”
    Ronald is sad

    Glad you’re back! Happy April, everyone!

    1. Yes, as I said above to Martha, some children are terrified of clowns.
      And I guess it does make the clowns ad.
      I like your poem.

    2. Awww, poor Ronald:>) I love the mom muttering. That captures the moment for me. Thanks, Amelia–happy to be back with you guys!

  2. Girl eating fries
    Lets out a scream
    Mom mutters
    “That’s terrifying”
    Ronald is sad

    Glad you’re back! Happy April, everyone!

    1. Yes, as I said above to Martha, some children are terrified of clowns.
      And I guess it does make the clowns ad.
      I like your poem.

    2. Awww, poor Ronald:>) I love the mom muttering. That captures the moment for me. Thanks, Amelia–happy to be back with you guys!

  3. Laura
    what wonderful childhood memories your pic brings back
    I love the title of your poem nice to have you with us today

    Birthday Parties

    clown-balloons
    Golden French-fry smiles
    colicky shack much cashes
    rainbow balls
    swirly straw slides

    Poem By Jessica Bigi

    1. Thanks, Jessica–love being back here with my 15WOLers! I love lines 4 and 5. Awesome! I couldn’t quite decipher line 3.

    2. It wouldn’t be Mickey D’s without the play area. Nice contrast.

  4. Laura
    what wonderful childhood memories your pic brings back
    I love the title of your poem nice to have you with us today

    Birthday Parties

    clown-balloons
    Golden French-fry smiles
    colicky shack much cashes
    rainbow balls
    swirly straw slides

    Poem By Jessica Bigi

    1. Thanks, Jessica–love being back here with my 15WOLers! I love lines 4 and 5. Awesome! I couldn’t quite decipher line 3.

    2. It wouldn’t be Mickey D’s without the play area. Nice contrast.

    1. Hahahaha–it’s Dr. McDonald, hynotist extraordinaire! Love that second line. Spinning eyes is a great image.

    2. If McD’s goes to all-day breakfast (as I heard last night) the burger may be replaced by an egg and cheese biscuit, and fries of course.

    1. Hahahaha–it’s Dr. McDonald, hynotist extraordinaire! Love that second line. Spinning eyes is a great image.

    2. If McD’s goes to all-day breakfast (as I heard last night) the burger may be replaced by an egg and cheese biscuit, and fries of course.

  5. Welcome home Laura. You were missed. I like to believe that a sad clown face is a fa?ade for true happiness.

    Interpretation

    Comedy or tragedy
    what say you?
    My outside is either;
    to me I remain true.

    1. What an interesting perspective. I like the confidence of that last line.

    2. I love your idea, Martha.
      A clown can certainly bring different feelings to different people.
      Some children are terrified of clowns.

    3. Thanks, Martha! I missed you guys, too! Oh dear…I guess what I see on Ronald’s face is a reflection of me! Love your positive outlook on him.

  6. Welcome home Laura. You were missed. I like to believe that a sad clown face is a fa?ade for true happiness.

    Interpretation

    Comedy or tragedy
    what say you?
    My outside is either;
    to me I remain true.

    1. What an interesting perspective. I like the confidence of that last line.

    2. I love your idea, Martha.
      A clown can certainly bring different feelings to different people.
      Some children are terrified of clowns.

    3. Thanks, Martha! I missed you guys, too! Oh dear…I guess what I see on Ronald’s face is a reflection of me! Love your positive outlook on him.

  7. I had to look up Kabuki — love learning new words here. And I’m with you, Laura — that’s a creepy face. So I decided to feel sorry for him.

    This daily diet
    of burgers and fries
    leaves me wanting
    pizza pies!

    1. Poor Ronald. I usually learn new words from Diane’s poems. Happy to be the one inspiring a bit of learning for a change:>) This reminds me of how tired I got of pub food while we were overseas. Some of it was very tasty, but the same stuff over and over, at every restaurant we went in… I missed my many choices!

  8. I had to look up Kabuki — love learning new words here. And I’m with you, Laura — that’s a creepy face. So I decided to feel sorry for him.

    This daily diet
    of burgers and fries
    leaves me wanting
    pizza pies!

    1. Poor Ronald. I usually learn new words from Diane’s poems. Happy to be the one inspiring a bit of learning for a change:>) This reminds me of how tired I got of pub food while we were overseas. Some of it was very tasty, but the same stuff over and over, at every restaurant we went in… I missed my many choices!

  9. Welcome back, Laura. I know you must have had a wonderful time and a chance to be with your daughter, too.
    I had to look up the definition of kabuki, but that gave me an idea for my effort today.

    Kabuki

    Face paint
    Yellow pants.
    Hear me sing.
    Watch me dance.
    Let me entertain you.

    1. I did have a wonderful time–thanks, Pat. I like that you took a word you didn’t initially know and then explored it in a poem!

  10. Welcome back, Laura. I know you must have had a wonderful time and a chance to be with your daughter, too.
    I had to look up the definition of kabuki, but that gave me an idea for my effort today.

    Kabuki

    Face paint
    Yellow pants.
    Hear me sing.
    Watch me dance.
    Let me entertain you.

    1. I did have a wonderful time–thanks, Pat. I like that you took a word you didn’t initially know and then explored it in a poem!

  11. Welcome back!

    My McBreak

    Strained plastic face
    Make-up covering
    The ravages
    Of toddler
    NEEDS
    Finally
    I get to
    SIT.

    1. Oh, Karen, I LOVE this. I spent many, many hours at various McDonald’s Playlands when my girls were little. During long Minnesota winters, when it was sometimes too cold to go outside, they were lifesavers!

    2. You are so right — toddler needs and Mickey D go hand in hand! Oh those “happy meals.”

    3. Love “strained plastic face”. He puts on that happy face no matter what!

  12. Welcome back!

    My McBreak

    Strained plastic face
    Make-up covering
    The ravages
    Of toddler
    NEEDS
    Finally
    I get to
    SIT.

    1. Oh, Karen, I LOVE this. I spent many, many hours at various McDonald’s Playlands when my girls were little. During long Minnesota winters, when it was sometimes too cold to go outside, they were lifesavers!

    2. You are so right — toddler needs and Mickey D go hand in hand! Oh those “happy meals.”

    3. Love “strained plastic face”. He puts on that happy face no matter what!

  13. CLOWN GREETING
    Gangling, jangling
    Honking, “Hi!”
    How I wish he’d
    Honk, “Goodbye.”

    © Charles Waters 2015 all rights reserved.

    1. This is wonderful just a thought Honk “goodbye on his one will ride”

  14. CLOWN GREETING
    Gangling, jangling
    Honking, “Hi!”
    How I wish he’d
    Honk, “Goodbye.”

    © Charles Waters 2015 all rights reserved.

    1. This is wonderful just a thought Honk “goodbye on his one will ride”

  15. Loved yours, Kate’s, and many others here. What is it about clowns that is so freaky, when they’re supposed to be funny??

    “The Comedy is Finished”

    You seem too happy,
    show too much restraint;
    Ronald, just face it…
    Pagliacci, you ain’t.

    - Matt Forrest Esenwine

    1. Ha–love the voice, esp of your last two lines. Clowns are just too false. Those painted smiles have a sociopathic quality to them!

  16. Loved yours, Kate’s, and many others here. What is it about clowns that is so freaky, when they’re supposed to be funny??

    “The Comedy is Finished”

    You seem too happy,
    show too much restraint;
    Ronald, just face it…
    Pagliacci, you ain’t.

    - Matt Forrest Esenwine

    1. Ha–love the voice, esp of your last two lines. Clowns are just too false. Those painted smiles have a sociopathic quality to them!

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,516 other subscribers

Are You Looking For?

Poetry Friday posts

Classroom Connections posts

All my poetryactions

Go to my Poetry page for:

  • National Poetry Month projects through the years
  • Small Reads Roundups (poems grouped by topic)
  • Introductions to several favorite poetry forms
Tags
#waterpoemproject15 Words or Less Poems20for2030 Painless Classroom Poems50 State Poemsacrosticsactivity pagesactivity sheetALAA Leaf Can Be...Amy Ludwig VanDerwaterA Need to FeedanthologiesanthologyA Rock Can Be...art projectsaudiopoemsawardsbad newsBarbara Juster EsbensenBilly Collinsbiopoemsblog tourbookalikesbook festivalsBookSpeak!book spine poemsbook trailersbop poembyr a thoddaidcafepresscalendar poemsCamp Read-a-LotCan Be... bookscan be... poemsCapstoneCarol Varsalonacascade poemsCatherine FlynnccbcCCRA.W.3CCRA.W.4CCRA.W.5centoschapter bookschoral compositionschristina rossetticinquainsCLAclassified ad poemsclassroom connectionclassroom connectionsClover Kittyconferences and conventionscrown sonnetscybilsdansaDare to DreamDavid Elliottdeeper wisdom poemdefinitosdiamantesdiversitydizaindodoitsuDot DayDouglas Floriandownloadablesdrum corpse.e. cummingsekphrastic poemsepistolary poemsequation poemsessentialethereeseventsexquisite corpseFairy Tale Garage Salefamilyfibonaccifiction picture booksfinding familyfirefightersforeign editionsfound poemsfree author zoomsfree versefrom studentsgeesegeorgia heardghazalGift Taggiveawaygolden shovelgoldilocksgratitudehaikuheart of aheart of a teacherHeidi MordhorstHelen FrostHighlightshow-to poemshow to make a rainbowI Am FromI Am poemsidiomsif you want to knit some mittensIf You Were the MoonILAimagepoemsinterviewin the middle of the nightIRAIrelandIrene LathamJ. Patrick LewisJanet WongJoyce SidmanKendraKerlanKidlit Comboslailaura's board booksLaura's booksLaura's poemsLaura's readingsLaura ShovanLee Bennett HopkinsLilian MoorelimericksLinda Booth SweeneyLine Leads the WayLion of the Skylist poemslittle free librarylive writingLullaby and Kisses Sweetlyricsmadness poetrymargaret simonMarilyn Singermary lee hahnmask poemsMeet My FamilyMelissa StewartMentors for Rentmentor textsmetaphorMichelle Myers LacknerMillbrookMinnesota Book Awardsmoneymoonmy reading lifemy writing processN+7naaninarrative poemsNational Poetry Month 2012 (haiku a day)National Poetry Month 2014 (riddle-ku)National Poetry Month 2015National Poetry Month 2016National Poetry Month 2017 (#wonderbreak)national poetry month 2018 (haiku a day)National Poetry Month 2020National Poetry Month 2021 (#EquationPoem)national poetry month 2022 (sticky-note poems)National Poetry Month 2023 (Digging for Poems)National Poetry Month 2024 (magnipoems)ncteNerdy Book Clubnifty newsnifty stuffNikki Grimesnonfictionnonfiction booksNonfiction Writers Dig Deepnovelsnovels in verseodesOne Minute Till BedtimeoppositifyOskar's VoyagepadletpantoumsparodiesPatreonpeacepersonalpet poemsphotopoetryphrase acrosticspicture booksplagiarismpoempicspoemspoems for two voicespoemsketchpoetic pursuitsPoetry 7poetryactionspoetry activitiesPoetry Blastpoetry booksPoetry FridayPoetry Friday AnthologiesPoetry Princessespoetry promptspoetry sistersPoetry Tips for Teachersprogressive poempublishing processpuddle songPutridquotationsraccontinosRandy Salasread-aloudreadaloudreading poetry in the classroomRebecca Kai Dotlichrecipe poemsrefugeesresearchreview copiesreviewsrevisionrhyming booksrhyming nonfictionrhyming picture booksRhyming Picture Books the Write Wayrhyming poemsRiddle-kuriddle poemsRock Can Be...Rock the Blogrondeau redoublesRudyard Kiplingsalas snippetsSCBWIschool visitsScotlandseasonssecrets of the loonSELsestinasshrinking daysskinnyskypeslice of lifesmall readssnack snooze skedaddlesnowman-coldsonnetsStampede!storm poemstorytimestorywalkstudent poemsstudent workSylvia VardellTanita Davistankatautogramteachableteacher resourcesteen/adult poemsterza rimasthankfulthank yous and referencesthe business sidethings to do iftracy nelson maurertrioletstunie munson-bensonvideosVikram MadanvillanellevillanellesWater Can Be...wealthy elementaryWe BelongWhat's InsideWhy-kuwinterwonderwonderbreakword of the yearwordplaywordsmithswork for hirewritingwriting bookswriting processwriting promptswriting the life poeticyoung authors conferencesYouTubeZapZap Clap Boomzenozentangle
Show More Show Less

Discover more from Laura Purdie Salas

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Join Laura's monthly newsletter for eductators

Get three of Laura's favorite poetry activities when you subscribe to "Small Reads."