Monday, August 4, 2014

Grammar of Poetry (Schoolhouse Review)


The Grammar of Poetry, published by Roman Roads Media defines poetry as “a language of pictures and music.” The entire course is derived from that definition. The music of poetry contains two parts: meter and rhyme. The “picture” of poetry refers  to the figures of speech (tropes) that paint visual pictures for the reader. While many poetry studies focus more on the meaning of poetry and the poet’s intent, The Grammar of Poetry focuses mainly on dissecting poems, analyzing their rhythm and rhyme, and identifying the particular word choices and techniques the poets used to paint mental pictures. After analyzing poems, the students then try to write their own poetry using particular rhyme schemes and meter.

The course is designed for 6th-9th graders. It can be used as a semester-long course, spread over a full year, or even finished in 6-10 weeks. We’ve been doing 4-5 lessons a week and finding it fairly easy to keep that pace.

We found that the lessons were fairly easy—I think they would be within the abilities of most 6th graders, but the program could also be easily used for a high school student, because many of the concepts may be unfamiliar to older students. (I learned a lot, myself!)

This 30 lesson course covers:

  • How to read poetry
  • Simile and Metaphor
  • Meter
  • Pun
  • Iambic Imitation
  • Personification
  • Synecdoche
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Alliteration
  • and much more

Grammar of Poetry  (bundle $100) includes 3 components:

  • Student Workbook ($22.00)
  • Teacher’s Edition  ($24.00)
  • DVD set ($85.00)

The Student Workbook includes 30 short lessons, each followed by one or more exercises that allow the student to practice the concepts. The Teacher’s Edition has several pages of instructions for teaching and usage, and includes the entire student text, with answers. The optional DVD teaches the concepts for each lesson. Matt Whitling, the teacher and author, is an entertaining speaker, and we enjoyed watching these short videos (10-15 minutes) each day. He gave more examples and even went through a few of the student exercises. This helps the student be sure he or she is on track with the concept before completing the workbook pages. The course could certainly be used independently by a student, especially with the help of the DVD’s.

What does a typical day look like?

Lesson 3: Simile:

  • 1 page lesson with definitions of trope and simile and some examples of simile. There was an emphasis that the two items being compared must NOT be alike. “That hog eats like an animal.” does not qualify as a simile because a hog is a type of animal.
  • Practice activity instructing the student to circle the two words being compared in a simile.
  • Activity: Write three of your own similes.
  • Activity: Labeling a rhyme scheme in a 22 line poem of similes.
  • Activity: Label sentences as “simile” or “other.”
  • Review: Define poetry, trope, epiphany, and simile.


Some lessons only had one activity, but even the lessons with multiple tasks usually took Emily less than 30 minutes to complete. Lesson 10 has the student begin to write some lines of poetry with particular meter and rhyme scheme. Emily found this more difficult and took longer on these lessons.

I appreciated that frequent review is built into the program. This ensures that concepts are really learned rather than skimmed over and forgotten. Emily thought she could get away with not memorizing the definitions, but soon found out that subsequent lessons would require her to know them!

Grammar of Poetry is certainly not the only poetry class you will want for your children, but it is a wonderful introductory course. It is easy to teach, easy to learn, and fun to do. I know that now, when we read poetry, either just for enjoyment, or as a literature assignment, Emily will better understand the technical aspects of each poem and will be sure to notice how the tropes and meter affect the message and sound of the poems.

Connect with Roman Roads Media:


Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed some other wonderful products from Roman Roads media. I’ve used some of these other curricula and they are wonderful! I’m hearing raving reviews from users of the new Old Western Culture program.

Old Western Culture: The Greeks
Old Western Culture: The Romans - The Aeneid
Dave Raymond's American History 1 or 2
Economics for Everybody Curriculum
Visual Latin I and II


Click to read Crew Reviews

I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

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