How to write poems by Joseph Coelho

National Poetry Day ran a week-long mini poetry festival in four Hull primary schools this year in association with Hull UK City of Culture 2017. All the participating children had the chance to write and perform their own poems and this is the exercise that Joseph Coelho devised to start them off.

Using the M.O.R.E.R.A.P.S. to explore Freedom, this year’s National Poetry Day theme

Focus - poetic devices, game play, competition, freeing up the idea of what poetry is.

Stimulus Read aloud to your class or display the video of M.O.R.E.R.A.P.S. page 56 in Werewolf Club Rules by Joseph Coelho. Video link via Youtube

Composition activity / Transcription Write M.O.R.E.R.A.P.S. vertically down a board.

Tell children that each letter stands for a tool that we can use to make writing more exciting, and these are called poetic devices.

Challenge them to listen out to what the different poetic devices are. Can anyone in the class remember all of them from the poem? If necessary read/watch M.O.R.E.R.A.P.S. a second time.

Ask the children what each letter stands for asking for examples from the class as you go along. Challenge them to make each example about freedom. There are examples given below but challenge the class to come up with their own, prompting where necessary. The aim is to create a class poem that the class has ownership over.

Metaphor Saying one thing is another thing to show what it is like. Freedom is an open window.

Onomatopoeia A word that sounds like what it means. Freedom tweets.

Rhyme A word that has the same sound as another.

Freedom is a light Shining ever so bright Emotion

Giving the poem a mood or feeling. Freedom fills the world with joy.

Repetition Repeating a line or a word to show that it is important. Free, free I feel free.

Alliteration Using several words in a row beginning with the same letter. The weight of the world wafted away as freedom waded in.

8 Books for Keeps No.226 September 2017 Personification

Making an inanimate object seem like a person. Freedom shimmies and flows across the dancefloor of the world.


Comparison of one thing with another using like or as. Freedom is like a deep breath.

Once all the examples are created and written on the board read out just the examples as a poem. For instance…

Freedom Freedom is an open window. Freedom tweets. Freedom is a light, shining ever so bright. Freedom fills the world with joy. Free, free I feel free. The weight of the world wafted away as freedom waded in. Freedom shimmies and flows across the dancefloor of the world. Freedom is like a deep breath.

Don’t worry if the poem feels a little random – it should be easy to create, organic and fun, and remember this is just a first draft.

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