Plant power poetry

Activity

Use the shapes, colours, sounds and smells of plants and nature as inspiration for a poem.

  • Estimated time: 60 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): English

Learning objectives

  • Learn about different styles and rhythms of poetry
  • Take notice of plants and nature, observing features such as the shapes, colours, sounds, smells and textures
  • Write a poem inspired by these observations

Essential background information

Preparation

Find a suitable outdoor space where young people will find enough plants to give them inspiration.

You may wish to gather some examples of different poetry styles before you run the activity with your students or children, or you could ask each student/child to find one example to present to the group. If you're having a go at home as a family, you could do your research together. 

Equipment

  • Examples of different styles of poem
  • Access to a garden, woodland, park or other outside space
  • Pencils/pens
  • Notepad/paper
  • Optional: magnifying glass to look closely at flowers, leaves and insects

Useful links

  • Use our flower structure diagram so students/children can identify the different parts of a flower in their poems.
  • Find out how different flowers have been used in Shakespeare plays.
  • Discover the hidden meanings behind some flowers which could provide inspiration to budding poets.
  • Use our spotter guides to help students/children identify different seasonal flowers, wildlife, tree leaves and flower shapes.

Video inspiration

Our RHS Young Ambassador, George, is a huge fan of nature and poetry and shows us how he gets inspiration for his work from his garden. 

You could show this video to your students/children as inspiration before they try to create their own poem.

Step by step

  1. Take some time to explain and research different styles of poetry using books or the internet. Look at the different rhythms of sonnets, limericks or haikus, as well as other styles such as narrative, prose or acrostic poetry.
  2. Ask your students or children to decide which style of poetry they like best or would like to try creating.
  3. Take a pen and notebook out into a garden, woodland, park or other outside space.
  4. Ask your students or children to spend some time observing the plants around them. They could look closely at different shapes and colours, close their eyes and listen to the sounds and take in the smells around them, and find interesting textures on trees and plants.
  5. Ask them to note down their observations. This can be single words or phrases.
  6. Once they feel they've had enough time to observe the plants around them, ask them to have a go at fitting some of the words or phrases they've written into their chosen style of poem. They may want to focus on a particular theme such as the season, a particular plant or flower, or the way they felt while being outside. They could try playing around with alliteration (using words that have the same first letter e.g. 'the perfect purple poppies') or onomatopoeia (words that imitate the sound they are describing e.g. 'the squelching mud' or 'the rustling leaves').
  7. Ask them to write up a neat copy of their finished poem. They may wish to keep their poem to themself or you could ask them to perform their poem to the group.

Hints & tips

  • Finished poems could be written onto pieces of paper and decorated with sketches or paintings of the plants that feature or could be written into cards to be given as gifts.
  • If you have a whole class or group, you could publish their poems into a book to sell to friends, family and members of your community to raise money for your project or a charity.
  • Younger children could work in a group or with a teacher or adult who could write down the children's descriptions to help turn into a poem.
  • You could repeat this activity for each season of the year so that young people can observe the changes more closely.
  • If you don't have access to a garden, woodland or other outside space, you could use flower bouquets, houseplants or pictures from books and magazines as inspiration.
  • You can use this activity as part of our Flower Power class topic.

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