Poetry – Rhyme

I’ve put together a six week course on poetry for local home educated children.
We’re using The Works poetry anthology as it gives a fantastic selection of different types of poem.

The first week, we looked at Rhyme.

Arrival Activity

Colour in rhyming words in the same colour.




We’ve got six weeks to look at poetry together. This week we’re going to start off by looking at rhyme.

Can anyone tell me what it means to say that two words rhyme?

Rhyming is about the sound at the end of the words, not the letters. So ‘snow’ and ‘now’ don’t rhyme – even though they end with the same letters, and ‘chair’ and ‘bear’ do rhyme, even though they don’t end with the same letters. If you’re not sure whether or not two words rhyme, try saying them out loud and listen to the sound.

Rhyme is an important part of a lot of poetry. And you can have different effects by using rhyme in different ways. There are two main types of rhyme: masculine rhyme and feminine rhyme.

Masculine rhyme is when only one syllable rhymes (like ‘cat’ and ‘bat’, or ‘acrobat’ and ‘laundromat’)  and feminine rhyme is when two or more syllables rhyme (like ‘stoney’ and ‘bony’, or ‘on a pony’ and ‘macaroni’).

We’re going to try and put the words on these cards into rhyming pairs, then sort the pairs into feminine and masculine rhymes.

Give out cards with rhyming words on, children should pair up the rhymes then peg them on the ‘masculine rhyme line’ or the ‘feminine rhyme line’.


The exact effect of masculine and feminine rhymes varies with lots of other factors, like whether the rhyme is a hard consonant sound or a soft sibilant sound, whether the rhyming words share the same rhythm or not, and what other effects are going on in the poem. But, you can expect feminine rhymes to sound more lyrical and – sometimes – more light-hearted than masculine rhymes.

Rhyme is one of the main ways that poets structure their poems. So, one of the important ways that we talk about poems is by looking at which words rhyme.

The rhyming shape of a poem is called the rhyme scheme, and they are very easy to find. We’re going to find the rhyme scheme of a poem together, and then you can all have a go on your own.

To find the rhyme scheme, we’re going to focus on the words at the ends of the lines.

‘There’s a Monster in the Garden’ page 406-7.

This is a nice easy rhyme scheme, it’s four stanzas, each made up of three rhyming couplets.


Individual Task

Give out rhyme scheme work sheets, for children to have a go at finding rhyme schemes themselves.


Those who can manage the nursery rhymes can try ‘Jellicle Cats Come Out Tonight’, page 394.

Older children could also find the rhyme scheme of ‘Sonnet’, page 511.



Work out the rhyme scheme of ‘Sonnet’ together.

Christina Rossetti’s poem is a very special type of poem, does anyone know what this type of poem is called?

It’s a sonnet.

Sonnets were incredibly popular in the 16th and 17th centuries, and hold a special place in English and Italian literary history. They are also very easy to spot. They should have fourteen lines, and a strict rhyme scheme.

Christina Rossetti was writing much later, in the 19th Century, when sonnets had a brief resurgence amongst the Romantics.

The first step in looking for a sonnet, is to count how many lines it has.

If you’re feeling clever, you can then work out the rhyme scheme and you may be able to match it to the rhyme scheme of other famous poets.

Ask younger children to have a look at the poems on pages 510, 513, and 516, can they count the lines and identify the sonnets?

Give older children a Shakespearean sonnet and a Spenserian sonnet and see if they can spot any similarities between the rhyme schemes of these and the Romantic sonnets.


Younger children could make Jellicle Cats from plasticine.




Arrival Craft:

Make Ear models using printed diagrams of the internal structure of the ear and drawing faces.



Today we’re talking about sound. Does anyone know how sound travels through the air?

Sound travels through the air as a wave. Show children the paper slinky.


Eldest and I made this following the instructions here. Originally, I had intended to use it as an opening craft, but it was very time consuming and a bit fiddly, so I decided against that and just took one to show.

Air particles hit one another and carry the sound through the air. It can’t travel in space – where there isn’t any air.

Sound doesn’t only travel through air, it can travel through all sorts of other media, like string, which we’re going to have a go at now, by making tin can ‘phones’.



Individual Task:

In small groups, children can make tin can ‘phones’ by covering the ends of the cans with tape, threading string through the holes already punched in the bottom of the cans and holding it in place with matches.



How did your model phones work? What stopped them working?

The string has to be taught. The can needs to be held near the ear and the mouth.

The can directs the sound waves and sends them down the taught string, where the other can directs them to your ear.

We’re going to do an experiment now to examine how sound works.

Elastic band experiment.


Break for drink and snack.


Gather Together:

I’ve got a program on my laptop that will let us look at sound waves.

We usually describe sound waves in two ways: there’s amplitude – how big the wave is, and how loud the sound is – and there’s frequency – how close the waves are to one another and how high pitched the sound wave is.

Use the tuning forks to show how different pitches show up. If any children have brought instruments, we can see what it looks like when these are played.




Individual Task:

Make balloon drums to take home. 

These are very simple, you cut the end off a balloon, then stretch the remaining balloon over a cup or tin. Secure the balloon with an elastic band to hold it taught. That’s it.

I gave the children wooden skewers to use as drum sticks. 




Elastic Band Experiment

You will need:

At least two people.

An elastic band.

A measuring tape or ruler.

A tin can or plastic cup.



  1. Hold the elastic band between two fingers, do not pull it tight.
  2. Measure the length of the elastic band and write the length in the table below.
  3. Twang the elastic band and listen to the sound it makes.
  4. CAREFULLY pull the elastic band so that it is five centimetres longer than it was.
  5. Write the new measurement down in the table below.
  6. Twang the elastic band again.
  7. Does it sound higher or lower than the first sound?
  8. CAREFULLY pull the elastic band so that it is five centimetres longer than it was.
  9. Write the new measurement down in the table below.
  10. Twang the elastic band again.
  11. Does it sound higher or lower than the first sound?


Length of band How does it sound?



Circle correct word in the brackets to show the result that you found:

Stretching the elastic band made the sound

( higher lower ) in pitch.


Further Experimentation:

What do you think will happen to the sound if you stretch the elastic band over the top of a can or cup (like in the picture below)?


The sound will be ( louder quieter ) when the elastic band is stretched over a can or cup.

Try it out. Was your prediction correct?

Yes No



Arrival Craft:

I gave out some sheets with pictures of clouds (which I took from Wild Weather), some card, cotton wool and foil. The children made their own cloud identification charts.


Gather Together:

We talked about pressure. I put a balloon over the top of an empty bottle and lowered it into a cup of boiling water. The balloon expanded as the air inside the bottle got hotter.



We then made barometers (following the instructions from Easy Science for Kids). Each child stretched a balloon over the top of a glass jar. Then we taped a long straw to the middle of the balloon. We made card board guides so that we could see when the stick moved up or down.


I showed the children an anemometer next and talked about how it measured wind speed.

The children made their own simple anemometers by attaching a polystyrene ball to a string, then tying the other end if the string to the top of half a paper plate.

We had a discussion about calibration. The children took it in turns to calibrate their anemometers by holding them in front of a fan alongside the electronic anemometer.



States of Matter

Arrival Craft:

Make states of matter charts – quilling for older children, sticky dots for younger ones.

I encouraged the children to draw three bowls and write the words ‘Solid, Liquid, Gas’ next to them. Then the older children quilled round shapes and the younger children stuck round stickers, to represent molecules within the different states. Some of their efforts were more accurate than others, so this was a great starting point for discussion around states of matter. 




Today, we’re talking about states of matter. The four most common ones are solid, liquid, gas and plasma.

We’re going to start with a game to try and identify the state of matter of various objects that I’ve brought with me.

Show the children water, ice and air.

Then  show the children a plasma ball.


Plasma is an unusual state of matter. It is almost a gas, but it has been heated or electrically charged to change the number of electrons it has. This makes it behave in an unusual way. You can clearly see the filaments. Like a gas, plasma fills the container it is in and doesn’t keep a definite shape. Plasma – unlike most gases – is highly conductive of electricity, and reacts to magnetic fields.

Does the plasma remind you of anything in nature? Lightning is a plasma that you see quite often.

Give the children venn diagram pictures with solid, liquid and gas circles overlapping. Hand out little pictures for them to stick in the right circles. StatesofMatterSortingActivity

Solid – Red, Liquid – Blue, Gas – Yellow.

Show the items in the table below, talk about what they might be. As you name each one, hand out pictures for the children to add to the overlapping portions of their venn diagrams.

Substance Name Stuff mixed up Colour
Toothpaste Gel Liquid in a solid Purple
Styrofoam Solid foam Gas in a solid Orange
Ink Liquid sol Solid in a liquid Purple
Shaving Cream Liquid foam Gas in a liquid Green
Smoke Solid aerosol Solid in a gas Orange
Body Spray Liquid aerosol Liquid in a gas Green

As you have probably seen, it is possible to make substances change their state. Does anyone know what it’s called when a gas turns into a liquid? It’s condensation. It can happen when a gas cools down.

Does anyone know what it’s called when a liquid turns into a gas? It’s evaporation, it can happen when a liquid is heated up.

We can also make gases into liquids by putting them under lots of pressure – that means squeezing them very hard together. The gas in a bottle of fizzy drink remains in liquid form because it is under a lot of pressure, as soon as we release some of the pressure, by opening the bottle, it turns into a gas again.

Open a bottle of fizzy drink and put a balloon over the top, let the children watch the gas collect in the balloon.

Break for drink and snack.

Second part:
Show the children a wooden skewer and ask what would happen if I put it in boiling water. Stir the boiling water with the skewer to test their theory.
Then do the same with a rod of ice.
Finally, show the children the gallium rod and ask what will happen if I put it in boiling water.


(I wanted to make a spoon, but, my first attempt was very wonky, so, short of time, I went with a rod instead. I made this by melting the gallium in a bain marie and pouring it into a straw.)


Most metals do not do that. Does anyone know what it’s called when a solid turns into a liquid? It’s melting.

This metal has an unusually low melting point.

Do you know anything else with a similar melting point?

Beeswax 620C, Coconut oil 250C, Gallium 300C, Chocolate 300C.

We’re going to melt beeswax and coconut oil, so that we can mix them together to make lip salve.
Pass around coconut oil and beeswax. The children should put one tablespoon of beeswax pellets and two tablespoons of coconut oil in a plastic sandwich bag. They can then place the bag in a cup of boiling water and watch the wax and oil melt. Encourage the children to predict which will melt first, bearing in mind the different melting points. Once both are melted, they can be thoroughly mixed by squeezing the bag (be careful, it will be hot as it comes out of the water!). Then the lip salve can be squeezed into little pots to take home.





As children arrive get them to use the peak flow meter to test their lung capacity; fill in the results on a graph on the white board.



Arrival Craft:

Pin respiratory organs to polystyrene people. I found some little polystyrene people on Baker Ross, so I drew some tiny respiratory organs for the children to stick on, using plastic pins (Baker Ross sells these to stick sequins to their polystyrene figures). It was a fun craft and a bit different from colouring or labeling pictures.




Can you name the body parts that  you pinned to the polystyrene bodies?

Mouth, Nose, Trachea, Lungs, Diaphragm.

Show these to the children on the anatomy model.

Do you know how we get air into our bodies?

Our ribs move up and out and our diaphragm moves down. This makes our lungs expand, so there is less pressure inside them, which makes the air rush in.

We’re going to make some models to show how our diaphragm makes our lungs fill with air.

I made an instructional sheet to help the children with this craft. It’s not my idea, but I’m not sure where I first came across it. Possibly here.


Make models using balloons, tops of plastic bottles, cling film and rubber bands.


While children are doing this, ensure everyone who would like to has recorded their lung capacity.


Gather Together:

Can you remember what the balloons in your models represent? Lungs.

What does the cling film represent? Diaphragm.

Is there anything missing from your model that a real body has? Two lungs, moving ribs.

Earlier some of us tested our lung capacity and recorded the results on this graph. With data like this, it can be interesting to look at the shape of the graph. A normal distribution gives a shape called a ‘Bell Curve’.

Look at and describe the data we’ve collected.


Break for drink and snack.


Second Part:

Balloons are a good model for lungs, because they inflate.

But, they are not very similar in shape to lungs. Our lungs are more like lots and lots of tiny little balloons (alveoli) which are attached together like the branches of of a tree by bronchioles, all the way back to the bronchi which branch off from the trachea.

We’re going to have a look at some real lungs now. So, if you are very squeamish, or just don’t fancy it today, now would be the best time to head to the park and the rest of us will meet you there in 30mins.

Dissect lungs together.

I really love the dissection videos from Bristol Science Museum. I always encourage the children to watch them before we try our own dissection. I brought some syringes and the children were amazed when they inflated bits of lung tissue at the way it expanded and changed colour. I was able to inflate a set of lungs by blowing into a piece of hose pipe, which was also very effective, but I didn’t want the children to try this in case they inhaled!

As before, I got my lungs from Samples for Schools, who are great value and deliver very quickly.




Structures and Den Day

Arrival Craft

Making paper houses or tents (http://www.jesus-without-language.net/priscilla-aquila-acts-18-make/ or http://babbledabbledo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Paper-Houses-Template-BABBLE-DABBLE-DO.pdf)



We’re going to be talking about structures today and why things stand up.


Individual Task

Give out wooden skewers and polystyrene balls, each table needs to make one triangular based pyramid and one cuboid. The children can clearly see the vertices of the shapes.


If we make a triangle shape, it will be stiff even if the joints let the sides rotate. If we make a square shape, the joints have to be stiff for the square to keep its shape. If you push a corner of the triangle in any direction, you push and pull the sides, and they hold the corner still. In a square, they don’t unless the corners are stiff. It’s easier to make stiff sides, than stiff corners.


Using paper building blocks (https://babbledabbledo.com/science-for-kids-paper-building-blocks/), build a tower.




Break for Drink and Snack – in aid of Save the Children’s Den Day, we will be building a big den to eat our snack in and all donations will be going to Save the Children.



Gather Together

Buildings are made of lots of different materials, we’re going to do an experiment to look at some differences between different materials and how they react to stress.

I’ve got three rods which are all the same diameter (4mm knitting needles made of bamboo, plastic and stainless steel).  I am going to attach weights to them and mark on this paper how far they bend.

Set up the first rod, attach it firmly in place, measure 20cm along the rod and tie a string to hang the weight. Which rod bent the most? Which one bent the least? Which material would make the best hook?

Add greater weights and see how much weight must be added to take the material past its ‘plastic point’ where it will not spring back after the weight is removed.


Final Challenge

We’re going to try building with bricks now. I have some miniature bricks and mortar so that we can build some teeny brick walls.



Middly found some torch kits online and he wanted to have a go at making them, so I ran a session about electricity to give us a good excuse!

I wasn’t actually very pleased with the kits that arrived. I found them poor quality and we had to fix them before the children were able to make the torches, so I would rather not give a link to the site from which we bought the torches. We won’t be using them again.

After a bit of quick work at home to prepare simple kits, all the children were able to make little torches.

Once the children had made the torches, we talked briefly about the importance of completing electric circuits.

For our next activity, I wanted to do a quick experiment to identify good conductors of electricity. I gave each child this instruction sheet ElectricityExperiment and all the required supplies. The children tested a few common household items for conductivity.

We talked about what objects conducted electricity well.

I tried to demonstrate why metals are such good conductors of electricity. I showed the children a tray with tennis balls stuck to it, and explained that the tennis balls represented the nuclei of metal atoms. Then I tipped a bag of small polystyrene balls onto the tray and explained that in a metal the electrons are not bound strongly to their nuclei, but instead are free to move in a ‘sea of electrons’. I tipped the tray slightly and the polystyrene balls ran from one end of the tray to the other. I explained to the children that it is the relatively free movement of these electrons that allows electricity to flow so well through a metal.

I found this craft on Home Science Tools. And I thought it would be a perfect addition to our electricity session. The children taped an LED and a battery to the top of a sheet of card, they attached hanging wires: one to the LED and one to the battery. Then they wrote quiz questions on the sheet of card, with the answers laid out so that they were not directly opposite the questions. On the back of the card, they attached the questions to the correct answers with a piece of wire held between two paperclips.