How to Write an Advice Poem
by Bruce Lansky
One of my favorite poems that I’ve written is “Mind Your Manners,” which can find in my book, If Pigs Could Fly

One of my favorite poems that I’ve written is “Mind Your Manners,” which can find in my book, If Pigs Could Fly... and Other Deep Thoughts (Meadowbrook Press). The poem has a bouncy rhythm, provides very good advice, and has a delightfully humorous ending!


It starts like this:


Don’t drum on the table.

Don’t play with your food.

Don’t talk while you’re chewing,

it’s terribly rude.

It has two other stanzas chock full of rules. Then it ends like this:

Don’t pester your parents.

Don’t stick out your tongue.

Don’t do what your parents did

when they were young.

If you’re interested in writing an advice poem, it’s not a bad idea to use the same rhythm and rhyme pattern that I used in each stanza. Each line has two beats and each stanza has an ABCB rhyme pattern (which means that the last word in the fourth line rhymes with the last word in the second line).

Here’s what the rhythm for each stanza sounds like:


da DUM da da DUM da
da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM da
da DUM da da DUM

If you tap your feet or clap while you sound out the rhythm above, you’ll find that there are two taps or claps in each line. Let’s use this rhythm and rhyme pattern to write an advice poem for your dog.

Make a list of things your dog does that bug you and your family. Maybe he drinks from the toilet, chews on your shoes, barks at the mail carrier, licks your face, jumps on you, eats food off your plate, chases your dad’s car, messes up your carpet, and sheds fur on your bed. If so, you might start it like this:

Don’t drink from the toilet.

Don’t eat off my plate.

Don’t chew my new sneakers,
they don’t taste too great.


Here’s another stanza:


Don’t mess up the carpet.
Don’t shed on my bed.
Don’t chase my dad’s Chevy
or you won’t get fed.

You could end it like this:


I wrote down these rules and
I hoped they’d be followed.
Spot thought it was homework.
He chewed them and swallowed.

What I especially like about this poem is that it plays off the famous excuse “My dog ate my homework” (which is also the title of one of my poetry books).

Make a list of things your dog (or someone in your family) does that bug you. See if you can fit them to the rhythm, as I have. It’s okay with me if you want to write your own first stanza and then use my second stanza as an ending—as long as you share the credit.


© 2009 Bruce Lansky. Text reprinted by permission of the author. Permission is given for individual school classes to use this lesson and to make as many copies of the lesson as are needed for the students’ use. All other reproduction is prohibited under penalty of law. For use outside individual classes, please contact All rights reserved.


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