16 Words: NPM23 Day 24

I love short form poetry, especially when working with young children. Today we read 16 Words: William Carlos Williams and “The Red Wheelbarrow” by Lisa Rogers and learned about a poem made up of a mere 16 words. When my first grade students studied the text of the poem, they immediately noticed that there were four stanzas (awareness built of studying a poem each week). They also noticed that each stanza contained four words (how had I missed that detail?). They noticed the lack of capitalization and punctuation (“he broke the rules!”), something we have noticed with other poets and other poems.

Of course, we had to try our own 16-word poetry. And in a mere five minutes, students expressed their ideas following Williams’ text as their mentor. Here’s a few examples from 6 and 7 year old poets:


outside the stable


a field of grass

waits in the sun

for horses to run

by A

A Bee Poem

buzzing in the


is a little


sipping nectar from


to make yummy


by G


white blue and


sad and mad


calm purple and


pink exciting brown


by C

And one by a student who is my unexpected poet–if I say the word poem, his entire body lights up…and he can’t wait to hear the poems and write his own!

The Yellow Bee

i sing with trees

i flew with clouds

i feel the breeze

i saw the earth

by R

And mine, composed while writing with my class, inspired by looking out the window of my classroom.

Yellow Sunflowers

outside the classroom


yellow sunflowers sway


in the sea


children writing poems


2 thoughts on “16 Words: NPM23 Day 24

  1. margaretsmn

    WCW would be proud of your young poets, how they notice, how they want to write, how they are poets, too. I wonder why you nor they started with “so much depends upon.” That line is often used as a striking line. I like how you focused on word count and syllable count.

    1. kd0602 Post author

      Great point Margaret. I thought about using that line as I wrote, but decided to let my students find their own words by choosing different words. No one was stuck, so “borrowing” a line didn’t come up. It’s funny, in the past most of my student poems inspired by the The Red Wheelbarrow started with “so much depends upon.” Thanks so much for your comments!


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