A sonnet is a formal poem with a fixed structure. It is 14 lines long and each line contains 10 syllables. Sonnet lines are in iambic pentameter which means the line has 10 syllables in 5 pairs. In each of these pairs the emphasis is on the second syllable like a heartbeat. You could play the sound of a heartbeat or ask the children to feel their pulses to understand this.
The rhyme scheme in an English sonnet is ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG.
Sonnets often pose a question which is answered in the final couplet.
In the example below Rachel Rooney has played with the form to create her poem. It is a 14 line poem with 10 syllable lines but Rachel has not followed the rhyming pattern rules:
Take an apple. Chop it into quarters.
Count out three. These represent the lakes
that nestle inside countries, all the snaking
rivers joined with seas – the blue that’s water.
Put them aside. This last remaining slice
stands for the land. Divide it into eight.
Discard the barren: the distant icy waste,
The thirsty desert, rocky unreached heights.
What’s left? Just one last sliver of a sphere.
Unpeel its skin. Hold up that patch of green
between your thumb and fingertip. It’s here
the soil is rich and seeds take root. The crops
we need to harvest, where our livestock feed
are all in this. Be careful now – don’t drop it.
From The Language of Cat.