Cinquain Poems: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

Oftentimes, people think that all poetry rhymes and looks like the type of poems we read in greeting cards or on Valentine's Day. Some poetry takes a different form. In this lesson, you will learn about cinquain poems.

Five Lines Of Fun!

'2, 4, 6, 8, who do we appreciate?' At some point in your life, you've probably heard this cheer at a sporting event, competition, or celebration. Not only is this cheer a great way to show a person or a team that you support them, but it can also help you remember how to write a specific type of poem called a cinquain.

Cinquain poems are a special type of poem that has exactly five lines and a specific number of syllables per line. A syllable is the sound of a vowel in a word, either by itself or with other letters. When you speak, you can often hear different parts of a word broken up by its vowels. For instance, when you read the word 'paper,' you say pa and per. These are the two syllables, or sounds, that make up the word.

Another way to recognize syllables in a word is to clap your hands for each sound in the word. If you clapped for each sound you heard in the word 'computer,' you would clap your hands three times for com, pu, ter. The image below shows a few words broken up into syllables. See if you can say each word and clap when you hear each syllable.

syllable count

Cinquains were invented by Adelaide Crapsey, an American poet, approximately 100 years ago. The cheer '2, 4, 6, 8' is related to cinquains because those numbers are the pattern for the syllables of the first four lines in the poem. Perhaps Adelaide was thinking of this cheer when she wrote the first cinquain, or perhaps she just really liked even numbers!

A cinquain poem contains the following syllables per line:

1st line: 2 syllables

2nd line: 4 syllables

3rd line: 6 syllables

4th line: 8 syllables

5th line: 2 syllables

Examples of Cinquains

Other than having this particular structure of lines and syllables, cinquains can look different from one poem to another. These poems can be about any topic. If you wanted to write about your grandfather, that's wonderful. Dinosaurs? Great! Moldy Cheese? Gross, but totally OK! Evil robots turning people into ducks and ruling the world? Sure! Oftentimes, the cinquain is full of descriptive words, or adjectives, about the topic. The following is an example of a cinquain describing beach balls.

beach ball poem

If you read the poem again and count the number of syllables per line, you will see that each line follows the pattern for a cinquain. For example, the third line says, 'Play with them in the pool,' and has six syllables. The fourth line says, 'Such great summer fun for children,' and has eight syllables.

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