Dinosaur Poetry

Written by Bob Francis.

Originally posted on The Bob Files.  Recorded for In Print Radio.

Daniel came home with an assignment the other day: write a poem about dinosaurs. He was totally freaked out and explained to me for ten minutes why he couldn’t possibly write this poem.

“Daniel,” I said, “if you put as much effort into writing your poem as you did not writing it, you’d probably be done by now.” I sat down with him at the kitchen table and thought up a little exercise to get the creative juices going. In case your second grader comes home with a similar assignment, feel free to give this a shot.

First, I asked Daniel to think about what he knew about dinosaurs. He came up with the following list:

Dinosaurs are very old.
Dinosaurs come from eggs.
Some dinosaurs ate plants.
Some others ate meat.
They aren’t around anymore.
All that’s left are bones.

Second, I asked Daniel to come with rhyming words for each end-word in the above sentences. The way I do it is to go through the alphabet one letter at a time and figure out which letters make a real word. Meat: beat (yes), seat (yes), deat (no), feet (yes)… For “old” we ended up with quite a list: bold, cold, doled, fold, gold, hold, mold, rolled, sold, and told.

Third, I asked Daniel to come up with a sentence that would end in these words. Personally, I liked “Millions of years, so I’ve been told”, but Daniel preferred “They’re made of stone, not gold.” We went through – line by line – and put together the couplets. I changed a couple of things (‘bones’ to ‘bone’), but otherwise it’s all his.

Dinosaurs are very old.
They’re made of stone, not gold.

Dinosaurs came from eggs.
Most dinosaurs had legs.

Some ate plants.
They didn’t wear pants

This was Daniel’s favorite line by the way; he couldn’t stop laughing when he told me the rhyme.

Some ate meat.
They weren’t too neat.

There aren’t any more.
Not one, not two, not three, not four.

All that is left is bone.
At the museum, where it is shown.

I don’t think John Keats will be looking upon this mighty work and despairing, but it might have given Shel Silverstein a giggle. It rhymes and it’s all scientifically accurate, definitely deserving the “awesome poem” remark from Mrs. Carmichael, his teacher.