Writing math poetry with teens
Math poetry—who would have thought?
I’ve always been a big fan of writing across the curriculum. After all, it just makes sense to tie writing into as many subjects as possible. Why separate the two when they’re so much happier married?
While it was’t hard to assign related writing when studying history, art, geography, or literature, I confess that dovetailing math and writing was a stretch for us. (Though I did sometimes have the kids write their own word problems. That counts, right?)
A number of years ago, my friend Jimmie at Jimmie’s Collage took up Math Mama’s challenge to write a poem that puts a positive spin on math. I thought it was a brilliant idea! Here a bit of math poetry written by her daughter. Isn’t it clever?
Untitled, by Emma
Dividing is divine,
And four plus five is nine.
Adding is just fine,
Four plus five is nine.
Negative and positive are always great.
But four plus six is is not eight.
Writing math poetry of your own
Why not plan a time to squeeze a math poetry activity into your teen’s homeschooling day? Because there are no prizes involved, and no deadline, it’s easy join Math Mama’s challenge any time! And if you’d like to share your poems here as well, you know I’d just love to see ’em!
Meanwhile, you can visit a page filled with fun number poems you’re sure to enjoy. Here’s the first one to whet your appetite!
Penny, penny, easy spent,
Copper brown and worth one cent.
Nickel, nickel, thick and fat,
You’re worth 5. I know that.
Dime, dime, little and thin,
I remember—you’re worth 10.
Quarter, quarter, big and bold,
You’re worth 25, I am told.
Half a dollar, half a dollar, giant size.
50 cents to buy some fries.
Dollar, dollar, green and long,
With 100 cents you can’t go wrong.
Edit: Jimmie duly chastised me, wondering why I wasn’t writing math poetry. So I too have risen to the challenge!
Of Sides and Angles
Geometry, ordered and tidy,
Pyramid, circle, and locus;
Precision of sides and of angles,
A midpoint that keeps me in focus.
Symmetry, area, compass,
Diameter bisects a chord;
Distance, dimension, and drawing,
You see why I never get bored.
Parallel planes and perspective,
The measure and tilt of a line;
Volume and ratio and surface,
Geometry suits me just fine.
Tips for writing math poetry
- Provide students with math word lists such as general math terminology, money vocabulary words, geometry vocabulary, and numbers and symbols. Instead of staring at a blank page, they’ll find all sorts of words and ideas to kickstart their math poem!
- Your teen’s math textbook is another great place to gather ideas.
- Make an acrostic poem. Start with a general category such as algebra, geometry, fractions, or even mathematics. Then, look for ways to work in appropriate math terms to fill in the acrostic.
- Try writing math poetry using other common poetry formats, such as haiku, Never poems, or cinquains.
- Their poems don’t have to rhyme! But if they’d like to take up the challenge, an online rhyming tool such as RhymeZone will be their new best friend!
Photo: Alexandre Hamada Possi, courtesy of Creative Commons.
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