Poetry Practice Through Play

Holly Bliss

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When my youngest daughter was in pre-kindergarten, I went to the prerequisite open house. As the children played, the parents gathered - either standing or perched precariously upon tiny chairs - waiting for the teacher to speak.

The teacher gestured to each section as she explained how the children spent their day. We got to know the art center. We saw the tricycles, swings and seesaws they used during outdoor play. We were introduced to the block building, kitchen, and music centers.

When she finished, she smiled while waiting for our questions. One parents question stuck out in my mind: Besides going over their ABC’s and 123’s, what do they actually learn?

My Answer: Playing, while being a fun way to pass the time, can also teach. This is as true for poets as it is for the pre-k crowd.



A fun tool in the poet’s toolbox is alliteration. My favorite way to sharpen this tool is to play the game Scattergories.

The way to get points is to come up with unique answers, because if someone else comes up with what you wrote down, neither one of you get a point. The way to pile up points is to come up with a single answer that had words beginning with the same letter. For example, if “P" was the letter rolled and “panther" fit one of the categories, then “pink panther" would get you two points instead of one – as long as it also fit the category. You could try “pink polka-dotted panther", but if the category is “type of cat" – you might have a problem defending your answer.

On the other hand, it’s loads of fun trying.


In case that was too much like playing for you, here is a fun way to practice poetry that I learned in my Creative Writing classes in college.

Try playing with word magnets – no refrigerator required.

The object isn’t to come up with anything serious, although sometimes you do by accident. Focus on finding a rhythm and the way words sound together. It’s okay to get silly.

You can find these word magnets at most bookstores.


The third way to play is as easy as closing your eyes.

Find a quiet place and use your imagination. Visualize a place in detail or become a different person. Immerse yourself in this imaginary place or imaginary life. Next, you write as much of this detail as you can. Bring it (or him/her) to life on paper.

Practice can be as boring as repeating the multiplication tables or it can be a fun experience. Boring gets old fast - personally, give me the fun.

© 2006 Holly Bliss. All Rights Reserved. This document may be freely redistributed in its unedited form and on the condition that all copyright references are kept intact along with the hyperlinked URLs.

About the Author: Using her writing as paint on the canvas of her life, Holly Bliss is an eclectic writer, newsletter editor and an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Poetry .


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