National Poetry Month: Math Poems

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With April winds come the sometimes

violent unleashing of Spring.

Buds emerge to salute the sun.

A dejected chin against a heavy palm,

students long to be outside in the trees

and not in the hard chair of the class.

The pencil tugs almost adamantly

to write what's upon the head or heart

to record the beating of National Poetry Month

Yes, you read correctly.  April is National Poetry Month

Most people do not intentionally place Math and Literature in the same hour.  I'd like to invite you to do just that this April.  Allow poetry into your math class, as an experiment, and stand back to see what transpires!  (OR...bring math into your Lit class!) Using poetry in the math class is unconventional, yes, but it absolutely valuable:

  1. It gives children an opportunity to study numbers and math vocabulary critically and with a different mindset.
  2. It also gives children a way to express their math questions, whether they be woes or celebration. 
  3. It brings variety and surprise to a normal class period.

With this lesson, you can choose to give students a math term, number, or vocabulary word to research thoroughly.  Or, you can assign a poem, such as haiku, cinquain, or diamante that requires a student to provide the correct number of words or syllables.  Just as teachers have to know something so thoroughly to explain it, so do students who want to write a poem about something.  They have to understand what they are writing about. 

This assignment will get children thinking about numbers differently than ever before! 

If your students are in PreK-1st, you can use this handy template to get creative thoughts and feelings about a certain number down on paper.  An adult helper can record for students who are not yet writing. 

If students are in Grades 2+, assign each child a number, a vocabulary word (such as integer, acute, or centimeter), a math term (such as add, subtract, multiply, divide) and print off this inviting brainstorm template for each student.   Students research, recording any interesting information they can find in regards to their assignment. 

We used Wikipedia and it gave more than enough information about the number 5.  We found out that 5 is a prime number, starfish have 5 appendages, a pentatonic scale has 5 notes, and The Olympic Games have 5 interlocking rings as their symbol, among other things

After children brainstorm, they can use their found information to write a poem.  You can invite children to create their own free-verse poem, or you can ask them to write a cinquain:

A Cinquain Poem Template (without an example)

A Cinquain Poem Template (with an example) to help students get their words on paper. 

Here is an example of an acrostic poem.  Students assign a phrase to each letter.  The student used the phrase "Almost ten" to write details about the number ten.   

A certain 5-year-old published her poetry genius using the number template noted above:

THE SMELLY FIVE

Number Five looks like a man with a great big belly

and sounds like alive and dive.

Number Five smells like rotten eggs

and tastes like the number ten, only saltier.

Number Five feels like glass when I push on his belly

and I like him because I am five, too.