Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Word Ladder

A word ladder is formed when you take a word like CAT, and transform it to another word, such as DOG, by changing one letter at a time: CAT- COT- DOT- DOG. You can use the word ladder to make a poem using each of the words, or rungs, of the ladder. Below is an example of a poem, made from the word ladder FOOL to WISE (fool-wool-wood-word-wore-wire-wise):

How a Fool Becomes Wise

The fool shears a sheep
of all its wool, carries it
to the wood, where a nymph
puts him under a spell
with a single word. All
the garments he wore
turn into barbs and wire,
and he cries for the time
before he became wise.

Exercise: Choose two words to be the ends of your word ladder. It is helpful for them to have the same number of letters, and to be words that have a relationship between them, such as opposites, synonyms, commonly linked words. Some examples: LOVE/HATE, STONE/HEART, WEEK/YEAR, CHAOS/ORDER, FLOUR/BREAD. Create your word list by changing one letter at a time, until all the rungs of the ladder are complete. Then use your word list to create a poem. The word-rungs don’t have to be end-words, or be in order. Experiment!


1 comment:

gina said...

Wow. Thanks. I have a few students who get together on the weekend and write collaborative poems from exercises for fun. They'll love the word ladder.