The “Looks Like” Game

Sultry spring breezes drifted through the open windows, swaying the blinds, teasing our noses with the perfume of honeysuckle and wild roses. It was hard to maintain concentration on American constitutional history. Competing for attention, the open textbooks on our desks lost to the wide-open world outside.

“Hey, Mrs. Wagner! Can we go outdoors and play the “Looks Like” game?” one student pleaded. He was joined by a chorus of “Please?”

“Sounds good to me!” I don’t know of any human being immune to the southern springtime scent of honeysuckle and wild roses.

Playing the “Looks Like” Game

The “Looks Like” game was a favorite metaphor exercise. Kids played the game everywhere: on the bus, in the classroom, and always outdoors. A quick method of jumping into creative images, it freed imaginations even within my most self-proclaimed “unimaginative’ kids.

We grabbed notebooks and pens, scattering into small groups.

Clouds drifted, veiling the sun, then rolled on again. “The sun looks like a puppy wrestling with the laundry,” a child wrote.

Leaves rustled against an azure sky. Another student jotted, “The trees look like feather dusters, cleaning the clouds.”

Dogwood petals and honey locust blossoms scattered across the fields. “The blossoms look like sprinkled soap powder,” penned a young lady.

Back inside our classroom, the kids’ metaphors birthed the images of a new group poem:

Spring Cleaning

The sun hides in a basket of clouds,
                 a puppy playing in the laundry.
Trees dust the sky,
                sprinkling soap powder blossoms
                over the earth’s green carpet.

As the kids demonstrated that day, we naturally see things metaphorically. We constantly compare the way one thing looks to another. Comparison is custom-built into our language. Writing a poem can be as simple as bringing images together through metaphor and simile.

Today with your children, grab pen and paper and play the “Looks Like” game.

What do you see around you? Focus on details and write down:

  • I see __________
  • It looks like __________
  • I see __________
  • It looks like __________

Keep going!

What shared poem will you and your kids write together today to mark a wonderful day of living? Post your poems here in our comment section!

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Janet Wagner is a contributor to In Our Write Minds. For over two decades, Janet was an elementary and middle school teacher in two Christian academies, a public district school, and a public charter school. She also had the honor of helping to homeschool her two nieces. Janet and her husband Dean live on the family farm in the Piedmont region of north central North Carolina. Currently, she enjoys a flexible life of homemaking, volunteering, reading, writing, tutoring students and training dogs, and learning how to build websites. You can view her web work-in-progress at


  • Posted April 11, 2011


    This is such a great idea, Janet. I love comparison poems!

  • Posted April 12, 2011


    The looks like game looks like fun!

  • Posted April 18, 2011


    Thanks, Chris! I’m always amazed at kids, insisting that they are NOT creative, who sit down and compose the most enchanting lines of poems, with a little encouragement through games such as this one.

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