How to Write a "Lunch for Your Teacher" Poem

by Bruce Lansky

Here’s a fun idea to help your students write a funny poem: Let them write about you! I know all your students say you’re their favorite teacher, but this poetry exercise will tickle even the most die-hard teacher's pet. Here’s how to do it. Tell your students to pretend they’re going to make lunch for you or another teacher. Have them make a list of really funny, gross, yucky foods that they’ll be serving. Then, they can either turn these foods into a "list poem" or they can turn their list into a poem that rhymes.

Here’s an example:

What I’d Cook for My Teacher (nonrhyming list poem)

Rattlesnake stew
centipede salad
seaweed and jellyfish sandwich
milk mixed with glue
a-chooberry pie
I hope the old bat doesn’t die!

Comment: Nonrhyming list poems are easy and fun to write. But many people enjoy reading poems that are written with rhythm and rhyme. Below, I’ve taken the same ideas and added some connecting words.

What I’d Cook for My Teacher (rhyming poem)

If I cooked hot lunch for my teacher,(A)
I would start out with rattlesnake stew.(B)
Then I’d serve her a centipede salad(C)
And a tall glass of milk mixed with glue(B)
Next, a seaweed and jellyfish sandwich(D)
For dessert, an a-chooberry pie.(E)
When my teacher finds out what she’s eaten,(F)
I hope the old bat doesn’t die!(E)

© Bruce Lansky, reprinted from If Pigs Could Fly…and Other Deep Thoughts published by Meadowbrook Press.

Now, here’s what your students need to do to create their own funny poem:

1. Have them make a list of funny, gross, yucky foods. Be sure they have several ideas for each different meal segment so they can choose the best ones for their poem. Have them add a funny comment at the end.

Main Dishes:
Funny Comments:

2. Have your students pick their best entry for each meal segment and their best funny comment at the end. (One student suggested this funny comment: "hearty appetite.") Then let them turn these segments and comments into a list poem.

3. Have your students show their list poems to you. If they need more ideas, have them read the winning entries from our "Teacher's Lunch" poetry contest.

4) Then let your students turn their list poems into rhythmic, rhyming poems. Make sure they take a look at my example. Make them say it out loud. Be sure that they notice my rhythm pattern: ABCB, DEFE. In other words, every second line rhymes. (Feel free to borrow my rhyme pattern.)

5) Invite them to show their rhyming "Lunch for Your Teacher" poems to you. Be prepared for lots of belly laughs and giggles.

—Bruce Lansky

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