Joe’s Tip

“If you don’t want to create a competitive environment, tables can compete against themselves, e.g. see how many points they get in one 15 minute stint then see if they can beat their own record.”


Once points have been worked out, students can be challenged to use the large sheets as poetry banks. Challenge them to create a poem using only the sentences available on their table’s sheet. Depending on their points groups can be given first, second, third and so on, and a choice of different exciting types of paper to write on and different implements to write with, for example, different coloured card, nice felt tips, giant pencils, specially designed paper such as the cheap pads you can buy in stationery shops that have illustrated edges, cool postcards, charcoal, disposable lab coats!


Because this is a group activity, it is key that abilities are mixed. Some groups may decide that there should be one scribe with everyone else feeding in ideas, other groups may want to pair up and write on the big sheet in pairs, one writing one making suggestions, other groups may want to all write independently at the same time. With mixed groups no one should feel left out.

Once first drafts are written poems can be shared with the class and constructive suggestions given to make the poems even stronger. Students can now be encouraged to redraft their work and to feel free to not make every sentence one of the M.O.R.E.R.A.P.S. but to rather get used to regularly thinking about how they can push their writing.

Thanks to Joseph Coelho, National Poetry Day, Hull UK City of Culture and the staff and pupils at Collingwood Primary School, Hull.

The M.O.R.E.R.A.P.S. competition

Tell the students that they are going to have a competition between their table groups (mixed table groups) to see who can get the most points by writing examples of each of the M.O.R.E.R.A.P.S. all on the theme of freedom.

With the classes help assign a point value between 1-10 to each of the M.O.R.E.R.A.P.S.

for example, Metaphor = 8 points Onomatopoeia = 4 points Rhyme = 2 points

and so on – it is important that points are decided by the class reflecting how hard or difficult a particular device is to do (this will be different for each class.)

Give each table group a huge piece of sugar paper and lots of pens/pencils to ensure everyone can write at the same time. The writing does not have to be in straight lines – the aim is to cover the paper in poetic lines. Some words will be big, some small, some upside down.

Tell students that each time they write a metaphor they will get 8 points and each time they write a sentence that uses onomatopoeia they will get 4 points and so on. The sentences can be serious, fun, silly or nonsensical. Just as long as they keep the theme of freedom in mind.

Tell the class that if they manage to use more than one device in a single sentence the points will be multiplied for instance...

The sun is an orange zooming across the sky, it flies so high.

This sentence uses metaphor, onomatopoeia and rhyme and so its points equal 8 x 4 x 2 = 64

Depending on the combination of devices and the points assigned it is very possible to get sentences worth tens of thousands of points (these sentences might be quite long).

Bonus points can be given for groups that manage to write examples of all of the M.O.R.E.R.A.P.S. or that write particularly strong sentences. Minus points can be assigned to a device (i.e. rhyme) if you have a class that is perhaps over using a certain device.

Joseph’s new book How to Write Poems is full of more useful tips and poetry starting points. It is published by Bloomsbury 978-1408889497, £9.99 pbk, take a look inside (link to PDF).

Books for Keeps No.226 September 2017 9

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