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A stanza in poetry can be a variety of lengths and can have a set meter or rhyme pattern or no pattern at all. A quatrain is a four line stanza in poetry. The quartet stanza appears in many types of poetry.
Types of Quatrains
Most types of poetry or stanzas that employ the quatrain have a rhyme pattern. There are several types: Alternating Quatrain, Envelope Stanza, In Memoriam Stanza, Redondilla, Italian Quatrain, Sicilian Quatrain, Hymnal Stanza, and Pantoum. The pantoum is quite difficult to write and can give any upper level student a challenge.
When teaching the quatrain, it is fun to add spice to the student's writing by teaching the poetic devices of alliteration, hyperbole and onomatopoeia. Then, assign the students to use them in a poem that has two quatrains.
- Alliteration is when there are several words in a line or a stanza that start with the same consonant. An example is as follows: The big brown bear blew bubbles.
- Hyperbole is when exaggeration is used. An example is as follows: Martin ate a whole mountain of grapes.
- Onomatopoeia is when a word makes a sound, such as buzz, twange, bonk, or oink.
Steps to the Lesson
Step 1 -- Teach students what a quatrain is and the three poetic devices: alliteration, hyperbole and onomatopoeia.
Step 2 -- Students should choose a favorite activity or hobby. If students choose a topic or theme for their poem first, they usually don't struggle as much with writing poetry.
Step 3 -- They should write two quatrains and use two of the three poetic devices about the activity or hobby. To add another challenge, the teacher can assign a rhyme pattern as well. The Alternating Quatrain poem is an easy one: abab abab.
After students have written their quatrains, they should share them with the class. It is always interesting to learn about student hobbies and favorite activities.