The Syllabic Cinquain: Enjoy with a Plantain

Contributor: Kristen Gardiner. Lesson ID: 10583

What word rhymes with cantaloupe? OK, how about a word that rhymes with train? Yes, cinquain! Use video and online games to learn about syllables and a fun form of poetry and art you get to create!



English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Which of these is a Cinquain?

plantain, cinquain, and sphynx

Kevin and his sister are also faced with the same question. Let's see what Kevin has to say:

Hmmm... Do you think that Kevin is right? Which one did you pick? Well, Kevin isn't too far off – a plantain is a starchy, banana-like fruit that is eaten fried. It's easy to see how he may have gotten the two confused. Answer number 3 is just a regular cat, although he may look a little funny because he is from an area where it is very hot, so he does not grow hair.

Number 2, the five line poem,is a cinquain! So Penny was correct.

The word cinquain (pronounced SING-kane) means five-line verse or poem. This style of poetry was created in America in the early 20th Century by a poet named Adelaide Crapsey. Adelaide was inspired by (got her ideas from) Japanese Haiku poetry.

A cinquain is a very special type of poem. It falls into the category of shape poems because of the shape it makes when written correctly. There are a few different ways to write a cinquain (some styles count syllables per line, while other styles are based on the parts of speech present in each line), but each version always has five lines. In addition to the number of lines, the cinquain needs an exact number of words or syllables for each line in order to create its unique symmetrical shape.

In this lesson you will look at one of the most common ways of writing a cinquain. In the Related Lesson, found in the right-hand sidebar, you will learn a different way to write the same type of poem.

In this first version, you will practice counting syllables.

First, think of a topic. That will be your title. (In the Related Lesson version, the first line of the poem will serve as the title.)

Pick a topic that you enjoy, and that you like sharing information about with others. Some good ideas for topics are:

  • pets
  • hobbies and collections
  • sports
  • favorite foods
  • a person you admire
  • a favorite book or movie

Once you have selected a topic, you need to create a simple title. Usually a cinquain title is the one-word name of the topic. (For example, if you choose to write about your favorite fruit, you might title your poem "Cantaloupe.")

The rest of the poem is your chance to describe your topic. Earlier, we said we would start with the version of the cinquain that requires us to count the number of syllables per line.

Do you remember how to find and count syllables in a word?
Let's review with the clapping method. Clap once for each syllable you hear in a word.

Let's review syllables by watching this video below: Syllable Pattern Help


This will help you in case you get stuck in any of those tricky compound words, or words with two vowels in a row.

  • All words have syllables. A word might have one, two, or even more syllables.
  • Writing has two syllables: Write(clap)—ing (clap).
    • Usually when we see words with an "ing" ending, we can count that ending as one syllable. Here's another example: See(clap) -ing(clap).

Good job! Can you think of more "ing" words that have at least two syllables?

Great! Let's move on:

  • Red has one syllable: red (clap).
  • Purple has two syllables: pur (clap)—ple(clap).
  • Now you try. How many syllables are in the word "happy"? Right, there are two!

Here are a few more words for practice counting syllables. Remember to clap!

  • thanks
  • mumble
  • asleep
  • clothespin
  • item
  • open
  • tickle
  • school

(Answers: 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1)

Nice work! If you tackled that, you can handle anything! Now back to our poem. You need to count syllables to describe your topic. If you still need a little help, or you just want to see it work, you can use this Syllable Counter (

So we have our topic, or title: Cantaloupe.

Now we need to follow this syllable counting formula to write our poem:

  • Line one needs two syllables.
  • Line two needs four syllables.
  • Line three needs six syllables.
  • Line four needs eight syllables.
  • Line five needs two syllables.

Notice that, like the example, lines one and five are the same, creating symmetry or sameness on the top and bottom. So, let's get started. We need two syllables that describe cantaloupe. For the form of the poem, it looks best if we use two one-syllable words.

What are two one-syllable words that describe cantaloupe? Sometimes it is helpful to make a list of words that describe your topic.


Characteristics of Cantaloupe

• round

• sweet

• juicy

• grows on a vine

• light orange color inside

• rough and bumpy outside

• seeds in the middle

Read the list and clap out the syllables and see if you can find two one-syllable words you we can use for the first line of the poem.

Great. Let's start the poem with Round, Sweet.

Now we need four syllables for the second line. How about "Grows on a vine?" Does that have four syllables? Yes! Good job. We have our second line. Now we need two more lines. Can you find a line with six syllables? Don’t forget to clap!

Did you say, "Light orange color inside?" You did? Excellent! We have our third line! We just need two more lines. Let's see if we can find a line with eight syllables. Clap out the number of syllables in "Rough and bumpy outside."

How many did you count. That's right, it only has six syllables. Is there a way we can add two more syllables to that line?

Did you say that we can add the words "It is?" That is a fantastic idea! Now we have eight syllables! It's a good thing we had that list because it was simple to add a few words to make a complete line.

Now we only have one more line to go. Since we started the line with two one-syllable words, let's end it the same way.

Uh-oh. We don't have any more one-syllable words on our list. We'll have to brainstorm again.

What else do we know about cantaloupes? Well, cantaloupe is a fruit, and the word fruit is one syllable. It's also a melon, but does that have one syllable? No, it has two. If you've ever had one, you know they are soft inside. They taste good. They are best when they are fresh. Can you think of any other one-syllable words?

For this example, we'll use "fresh" and put it together to see how it looks. If you have a better one-syllable word that you would like to use, write your word instead.

Here's our Cinquain Syllable Poem:


Round, sweet

Grows on a vine.

Light orange color inside,

It is rough and bumpy outside.

Fresh fruit.

Notice that in poems, many of our grammar rules do not apply. For example, we can put periods after fragments or even single words for effect, although you know that one word cannot make a complete sentence. (You need a subject and a predicate to make a complete sentence.) This is because poetry is considered an art form, and often times there are drawings or pictures included with poetry. In the case of the cinquain, the words themselves make a shape. Can you see it? Different people see the shape differently. Some say it looks like a tree or a bush. Some say it looks like a flower pot or a vase. What do you think it looks like? The dotted lines show the different ways it can be viewed.

Poetry allows you to be creative! In the example below, the one-syllable words are colored blue, and the two syllable words are colored green. Think about what else you could do to decorate your poem. Could you draw something with the shape? Maybe the shape can help you think of a topic!

cantaloupe cinquain

From art to feelings

Aside from creating a piece of art, people use poetry to share their emotions (feelings). Writing about how something makes you feel is a great way of brainstorming poetry topics. Now that you know how to count syllables, you need to find your topic.

A cinquain can be simple and tell about something; like the cantaloupe example, it can tell a story, or it can tell how you feel about something. Here are a few more examples:

This one tells a story:

My Messy Room

My room

is a huge mess.

Junk all over the place.

Mom says, “Clean up!” But I like it

like this.

Here is one that tells how the writer feels about his or her new kitten:

Dr. Bombay


Soft and purring.

You are the one that I picked,

It was your black coat and green eyes,


All you need to remember is the 2, 4, 6, 8, 2 syllable pattern, and you can pretty much write about anything you'd like. Your poem will naturally take on a form of this shape.

Let's practice!

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