Nonsense poetry is a good way of understanding the difference between poetry and prose - the words seem to make sense but actually make none. A well-known nonsense poem, 'On the Ning-Nang-Nong', is recited by its writer, the famous comedian Spike Milligan.
Students could consider the Mother Goose nursery rhyme 'Hey Diddle Diddle'. How important is the sound of the poem compared to the accompanying words? This could extend to a deeper exploration of how nonsense poems are effective, in terms of their rhythm and how using the right number of syllables on each line helps the poet to get a message across even when the poem makes no sense. Challenge students to write their own nonsense poems, taking Mother Goose as the basis and changing the words. Students could write a sensible poem also based on the structure of Mother Goose and apply the same structural rules. Which version do students prefer? Why?