Didactic Cinquain: Tell Me About It

Contributor: Kristen Gardiner. Lesson ID: 10582

When was the last time you wrote a didactic cinquain? Never?! Learn how to write this clever, colorful type of poetry using fun games, a thesaurus, and a snowflake!



English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Timmy strikes again – and he doesn't even know what he did.

  • How would you present that information when asked to write to give information?
  • For example, what would you say if you were asked to give all the information you had in your head about snow?

Go ahead and write down all you know about snow now – you may know more than Timmy!

  • Do you have information in a list like this one?
  • Snow is white
  • Snow is cold
  • Snow comes from the clouds
  • Snow is frozen ice crystals

Or, maybe you gave the information in more of a story.

Snow falls from the clouds in the wintertime. It is freezing because it is made of ice crystals.

Many of us do not think of poetry as a way of giving factual information or informative writing.

We can tell by Timmy's face and the last block that his poetry was not written intentionally (on purpose), but Timmy wrote a type of poem called a didactic cinquain.

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A cinquain is a form of shape poetry with five lines.

The syllabic version has a certain number of syllables in each line, much like the Japanese Haiku. (To learn more about this type of cinquain, check out our lesson under Additional Resources in the right-hand sidebar.)

The didactic version is slightly different. First, it helps to know that the word didactic means informative. This is why it is considered a type of informative writing.

Take another look at Timmy's snow poem.

  • Do you notice any patterns?
  • Can you see the shape?

Here is a closer look.

Cold, white
Falling, blowing, drifting
We have no school

Look at the form in detail.

cinquain diagram

As you can see, the pattern of this cinquain is in the number and type or purpose of words. The number of words follows a 1, 2, 3, 4, 1 pattern.

Line one needs to state the title, and as in the syllabic cinquain, the topic must be a noun (a person, place, or thing).

Next, you need two adjectives. Adjectives describe nouns. For example, flowers can be pretty and red, and dogs can be fluffy and big.

In line three, you need three more words about the topic. These words must end in -ing. For example, a mother can be caring and loving; baseball can be tiring and exciting.

Line four is the best in the poem because it is your statement. You get to tell your audience your feelings about the topic in four words. Choose them wisely!

Finally, you need one more word. This last word needs to mean something the same as, or similar to, your topic.

In the example above, winter is a word closely related to snow. This works because it typically snows during the winter.

If you are having trouble, you can use a thesaurus for kids or look the word up in the dictionary to see a few synonyms.

A thesaurus is like a dictionary, but it will give you a long list of synonyms for many, many words or all different parts of speech. They are great to have when writing poetry.

Okay! Now that you know what a didactic cinquain is, see how you use this information! Here's an example to get your creativity flowing!

Five, informative
Brainstorming, Creating, Writing
Make art with words

Keep it going in the Got It? section!

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