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  • Writer's pictureLeslie

Let's Play with Poetry, Prompt 1: Rhyme!

On March 1, 2018, LEAF LITTER CRITTERS will welcome readers to the hidden ecosystem at our feet: the busy recyclers in the brown food web! It’s a close-up romp with the shredders, decomposers, mixers, aerators, and slimers who improve soil texture and return nutrients and organic matter so green food web plants can grow. Hooray for recycling!

But LEAF LITTER CRITTERS couldn’t include every brown food webber—there are too many. For the next month I’ll be posting Poem Prompts for educator poets to share with young poets so everyone can play with poems about some LEAF LITTER CRITTERS who were left behind!

AND REMEMBER THE RULE: There are no rules!


Poetry Prompt 1: RHYME

Meet the PAUROPOD (PORE-oh-pod)

The capital letters mean that syllable is the STRONG one. You say this word with the same rhythm (STRONG soft soft) as another word you may have heard: HAmilton.

The first part of this short video is slowed down. The end is actual speed.

Let’s have some fun writing a two-line rhyme—the rhyming couplet.


Line 1: Pauropods are quick and small (you can tell that’s true from watching the video, right?)

Line 2: __________________________.

What will you end-rhyme with small? Say small out loud. Your rhyming word will swap out the “sm” sound in small and keep the all sounds at the end.

Here are words I think rhyme with small when I say them aloud: all, fall, haul or crawl.

Can you think of more rhymes? Make a list. For more ideas, check a rhyming dictionary, or online. Say your rhyme pairs aloud to be sure you hear the same sounds.

So…what will you write about in Line 2? That's where reading and observing comes in!

RESEARCH SHORTCUT: (my notes from readings and from observing pauropods)

Pauropods are in a group called myriapods (MIR-ee-uh-pods)—invertebrate animals with lots of feet.

Pauropod means “few feet” in Greek.

They look a bit like teeny millipedes or centipedes but have many fewer feet--only 9-11 pairs.

Pauropods are very small, usually shorter than an eyelash.

When they walk, they scamper then stop, scamper then stop. They seem to startle, back up, then hurry the other way. They wave their branched antennae around. Their antennae look like antlers.

Most pauropods have no eyes and are blind.

They have no wings.

They can feel vibrations.

They don’t have hearts.

Pauropods are usually white or brown.

Pauropods live in damp places in soil and leaf litter, under stones and under rotting wood all over the world except Antarctica

They chew fungi and rotting bits of animals and plants, so their ecosystem roles are: shredder and consumer.

For the Encyclopedia of Life entry on pauropods, click here .

Back to the PROMPT:

Line 1: Pauropods are quick and small

Line 2: ______________________crawl.

Or: choose a different end rhyme instead of crawl. How about all or even at all?

Or: make up your own Line 1.

Or: add more lines

Or: use this idea with your own science topic—no rules, remember?

Except this one:


I would LOVE to read pauropod poems in the comments!

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Sandra Featherly
Aug 12, 2020

Well, we just now discovered your fantabulous webpage since reading your Leaf Critter book a year ago, when we could still check out books from the library. You make us so happy! My daughter Veronica wanted to share with you a tardigrade song she and I made up today to the tune of "The Candyman Can". She will have to work on a poem for her favorite bug, the slug! And how great to meet the pauropod today!

"Who can live on icebergs,

And loves the lava, too?

Who can live in outerspace and thrive in ocean depths?

The Tardigrade can,

The Tardigrade can!

Who loves breathing sulfur,

And has nitrogen nurseries?

Who can make a rainbow in the Yellowstone…

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