Pantoum Poems: Give Your Language Arts Class an Astronomy Lesson!

Pantoum Poems: Give Your Language Arts Class an Astronomy Lesson!
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Pantoum, By Definition

A pantoum is a form of poetry that originates from Malaysia. There it was called the pantun berkait, which in English, became pantoum. It has four-lined stanzas. The last two words of lines two and four should rhyme. The last two lines of one and three should also rhyme. Lines two and four of the preceding stanza become lines one and three of the subsequent stanza. Basically your pattern will look like this:





The repeated lines do not always have to be exact, but should be very similar. Pantoums can vary in length, but always follow this pattern.

Student Level

Read the book Join Hands by Pat Mora, written in pantoum form. Explain the style and origins of a pantoum, which comes from Malaysia,

Join Hands by Pat Mora

giving basic background information from the region. Pat Mora’s book gives an example and explanation of the form in the back.

Gathering Information

Give the students a class period to research their topics and gather information. In this case, they’ll be collecting information about the solar system from kid-safe and kid-friendly search enginges such as Yahooligans, or district-provided databases, or pre-viewed websites such as:

Students should be looking for basic facts about the planets, such as distances from the sun, or order in the solar system, but also information they can use for imagery such as how the planet looks or what they imagine it to be like.

Planetary Pantoum Poems

Now the students must follow the pattern you have posted for them and put in their information. You can set your own additional requirements for the assignment as well. You might be surprised with the ideas they come up with. Here is a basic example of what a pantoum would look like based on the weight estimates for other planets.

What is my earth weight

I’m 19 pounds on the moon

It feels pretty great

I’m still only 129.3 on Neptune.


I’m like a feather on the Moon.

My pounds number 43.3 on Mars

On Neptune, I’d be at my ideal soon

Guess I can afford a few extra candy bars.


On Mars to be 43.3 pounds light

Makes me feel like I’ve won

Till I take sight

Of the 3,113.2 pounds I could shed on the sun.


Victory on Mars seems pretty near

To make my scale say what I need.

I will be happy with myself, and not shed a tear

If anyone dare ask, I am here as I am on Ganymede.

(Ganymede is one of Jupiter’s moons).