Poetry Activities and Websites
Word Storms (intermediate/senior) (Frank Serafini, Around the Reading Workshop in 180 Days, 2006)
Generate a list of 8-10 words as the poem is being read. Then share the lists and discuss similarities and differences. (This activity helps students remain open to new possibilities and the variety of interpretations there are to poetry)
Poetry-to-Music Connections (junior/intermediate)
Some people think of poetry as lyrics without musical accompaniment. Some people would say that song lyrics are poetry.
- Read lyrics as a poem
- Pair a picture book with a song on the same subject (Patricia Polacco’s Pink and Say and The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”
- Look at some poems that became songs (The Owl and the Pussycat by Lear)
- Write a new verse to a song
- Visit http://www.learningfromlyrics.org/
Have poetry anthologies and poetry books in the class so that students can choose them during independent reading time.
Celebrate Poetic Diversity
Throughout the year, share a wide variety of poems. Some of the poems we forget about are in the form of chants, jump-rope songs, clapping sons, nursery rhymes, jingles, and memory devices (30 days hath September…). Read funny poems as well as serious ones. Read poems that are easy to understand and ones that are ambiguous. Read poems that make you wonder.
Two Voices for ESL Students (intermediate/senior)
Use Paul Fleishman’s book Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices (1988) and have ESL students write a poem in their first language and then write a parallel poem in English. They then read the poems together, alternating voices.
Jigsaw Poem (primary-senior)
Cut a poem up into its component words and put them in a folder. Have students create new poems using the words. Discuss the poems created. Display the poems created.
Sound Opera (junior-senior)
Penn Kemp is a Canadian poet that loves to write poems that play with sound. “Poem for Peace in Two Voices” is a video poem that combines images, singing, and speaking. http://faculty.uoit.ca/hughes/Research/poetry.html
The repeated words on the right side of this page are spoken slowly so that they stretch over the whole of the stanza on the left hand side of the page that they accompany. Try getting your students to write a poem in this style.
Poem for Peace in Two Voices
Calm came clear
early one morning Calm come clear
before things started of cloud
Calm came at noon Calm come
A cardinal perched clear
on black bough of cloud
in blazing sun
Calm came at night Calm come clear
stretching as cats do, of cloud
constant stretch and change.
Spring flower brightened Calm come clear
as the house slept.
Now calm come Now calm come
in the face of clear of
Follow the Nouns (primary-senior)(Molly Peacock, 2002 ,Canadian poet)
Take a poem that you’re having difficulty understanding and highlight all the nouns. (every kid can do that!) Look at those words and essentially the interrelationship of those nouns is the essence of the poem.
Poem or Prose (primary-senior)(Molly Peacock, 2002, Canadian poet)
Take a poem that a student has written and write it out in prose. Get the student to talk about how the prose and poetry are different with respect to meaning.
Paint, Punch and Pause (junior/intermediate)(O’Connor, 2004)
When performing a poem you typically use three tools: paint, punch and pause. When you “paint” you perform a word to show its meaning. You might, for example, read the word “slow” as S-L-O-W to emphasize its meaning. When you “punch” a word you say it with emphasis. When you “pause” a word, you pause before or after a word for effect.
“Know it off by heart” Circle (primary/junior)
Students are asked to bring a memorized poem to a circle which they will read to the others. They can have the poem in front of them in case they forget a line. They are asked to say it. This, says Molly Peacock, Canadian poet, is a gift for the future because sometime in the future this poem will resurface in your life and it will bring you something you need because you chose it and you know it “by heart.”
Visual Thesaurus (junior-senior)(By Thinkmap Inc. 2007)
Download a free trial version of thinkmap to help with poetry writing. It’s a bit like the new Google web-making function but a bit more tailored to literacy. If you buy the online version you have a very interesting option of making and sharing lists of your favourite words.
List Swap Poetry (junior-senior)
Make a list of favourite words and then share them with other people. Use your own list to write a poem or let someone else’s words inspire you.
Wiki Poetry (Junior-Intermediate students)
Set up a wiki environment to collaborate and share ideas, write print and digital poems, as well as to edit each other’s work.
“We had a lot of fun”
Pick a generic phrase that everyone uses and make that your poem’s title. The rest of the poem is using figurative language to make the idea sing! “It was a nice day” becomes, “The day smelled of freshly cut grass, as the newborn sun poked its head over the horizon, spreading its life-giving rays over the landscape.”
Facts are stranger than Fiction Basket (Junior/Intermediate)
Students bring in strange facts they find and put them in the basket. Students write poems based on the non-fiction facts.
Poetic Opposites (junior-senior)
Write poetry that explores life’s opposites (e.g. love/hate; up/down; sad/happy; life/death; young/old; day/night; black/white; hot/cold; yes/no; male/female; etc.)
Introduce the idea of using opposites in poetry by reading examples of such or by mentioning the poetry form of diamante (the diamond-shaped poem of 8 lines that begins with one idea and ends with its opposite). Discuss how life is full of opposites, then brainstorm and list examples. Choose a pair, then brainstorm possible images, ideas, or words for each word of the pair or the pair itself. After you’ve generated some possibilities, devise lines for a poem that will demonstrate the opposites chosen. Have student-poets now choose a pair, then brainstorm ideas, images, words, phrases for each word of the pair, or the pair itself. Ask them to then compose a poem (one that does not have to follow a form rhyme scheme, or rhythm pattern) utilizing opposites in some way with the ideas and images they’ve gathered.
Lincoln Middle School
Rumor Has It (intermediate and senior students)
Go to www.snopes.com
A personal and well-maintained website by Barbara and David Mikkelson dispelling urban legends. Students can read about legends that are proved factual and use them as inspiration for a poem.
Line Break Centre (primary-senior)
Rewrite short poems without the line breaks. Students must put in breaks where they think they belong, following the rule that a line break equals a pause.
Online Poetry Magazines (junior and intermediate students)
Foremost among poetry’s homes on the Web are the increasing numbers of high-quality online literary magazines that have sprung up in recent years. New editors not wanting or unable to finance expensive print journals have designed engaging Web sites featuring new poems, book reviews and links to other poetry-related sites. These magazines are publishing a wide range of poets, from Pulitzer Prize winners to up-and-coming poets still in M.F.A. programs. Unlike print journals, they are not hindered by the problem of distribution—anyone with access to the Internet can read them. Of course, poetry publishers count on their poets publishing individual poems to bring readers to their books, and the Internet opens a whole new avenue for getting readers’ attention.
These are not self-publishing ventures or scams. The editors of these magazines are often distinguished poets themselves, and they can be just as picky as their print counterparts. A few of these magazines, such as Jacket (www.jacketmagazine.com), founded by Australian poet John Tranter in 1997, have, by now, garnered an influential reputation and stand as models for newer publications. Jacket has had over 500,000 visits since 1997. A short list of well-respected online magazines that publish poetry might include Slate.com, Electronic Poetry Review (www.epoetry.org), La Petite Zine (www.lapetitezine.org), How2 (www.asu.edu/pipercwcenter/how2journal), and Octopus Magazine (www.octopusmagazine.com).
Poetry Blogs (junior and intermediate students)
Silliman, likely the most well-known poetry blogger, points out, “There’s nothing like having an idea, writing it up and posting it, then having feedback all within the same hour.” Young poets—some of whom have published books, and many who hope to—have seized on this medium to satisfy their cravings for constant dialogue about poetry, and as a way of making names for themselves. Beginning to capitalize on the phenomenon, even mainstream publishers are getting into the blogging game—HarperCollins recently launched its own blog (www.cruelestmonth.com), which features news about its poetry titles.
YouTube Poetry Explosion (intermediate)
There is a genre of poetry evolving on the internet. It uses multi-modal ways to explore poetry. Maybe the use of new digital media has helped poetry find its present voice. Some examples:
Compare Musical Lyrics (intermediate/senior)
Find two music videos at least twenty years apart. The oldest should be the original and the newer version, the cover. Print out the lyrics. Pick the version you like the best and defend it based on its poetic merits.
(Michel Jackson’s Thriller Video)
(Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, Philippines)
Write like Seuss (junior-senior)
Dr. Seuss wrote mostly in anapestic tetrameter which consists of four rhythmic units (anapests), each composed of two weak beats followed by one strong, schematized below:
x x X x x X x x X x x X
An excerpt from Oh, the Places You’ll Go:
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
Try writing a poem in anapestic tetrameter.
Some Primary/Junior Poetry Websites
Classic Children’s Stories
Read classic children’s stories and poems by authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson and Hans Christian Anderson with illustrations created especially for the stories by famous artists.
Dr. Seuss’s Seussville
Do you like green eggs and ham? You can find a recipe for them here. Visit Dr. Seuss, play games, and learn about Diffendoofer Day at Seussville.
Edward Lear’s Nonsense Works
Do you think poetry written long ago is boring? Then check out these poems with pictures – They’ll crack you up!
Enchanted Tulips and other Verses for Children
Children’s verses from 1914.
Favorite Poem Project
Robert Pinsky, a poet and one of the creators of this site says, “If a poem is written well, it was written with the poet’s voice and for a voice.” The purpose of this site is to give a voice–through video and audio–to poets of all ages. You are encouraged to participate in the project by adding your own poetry.
Do you like to laugh? Then check out these funny poems – You can read school poems, try out poetry theater, or enter your poems in a contest.
Grandpa Tucker’s Rhymes and Tales
Grandpa Tucker has written silly songs, poems, and stories. There’s even a Java JukeBox: you can choose songs and listen to them while you check out the rest of the site.
Listen to cool stories online, build a beast in the game section, read poems, and have lots of fun at this amazing website. Games, stories, poems, and music – Inkless Tales has it all. Check it out! Awarded an American Library Association “Great Web Sites” Recommendation.
Read funny or sad poems, written by famous poets and kids like you.
Try to unscramble these poems and rhymes by dragging the words around with your mouse. Or you can make up new poems from the words.
Mama Lisa’s World: Children’s Songs and Rhymes of All Nations
Find out what nursery rhymes and songs are sung by or to children in cultures around the world.
MamaLisa’s House of Nursery Rhymes
Visit MamaLisa to read (and listen to!) rhymes from around the world.
Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes
All your favorite nursery rhymes are here with illustrations. Read Humpty-Dumpty, Little Miss Moffat, The Cat and the Fiddle (Hey Diddle Diddle) and Three Blind Mice, plus tons more!
Mother Goose Rebus Rhymes
“Rebus Rhymes is designed for children who are learning how to read. Preschoolers and Kindergartners enjoy picking out the words they can read in their favorite nursery rhymes.” Children can read a nursery rhyme or tongue twister, make a nursery rhyme coloring book and color, paint rhymes online, participate in a nursery rhyme scavenger hunt, or make other arts and crafts with popular Mother Goose (and other) nursery rhymes.
If you can ignore all the advertising, this site has a HUGE collection of Nursery Rhymes.
A Pocketful of Rhymes
Read rhymes about baseballs, school lunches, and different kinds of jobs. You can play guessing games and finish off some of the poems yourself.
Poetry for Kids
Funny, original poems by Ken Nesbitt. Some poems are illustrated.
These are “poems for the young of all ages” by G. E. Farrell. There are many different poems here about all kinds of subjects, and they all have pictures to go with them. Read poems about the circus, puppies, counting and more!
Poetry Writing with Jack Prelutsky
Learn how to write a poem with popular children’s poet Jack Prelutsky and then publish it online!
The Real Mother Goose
The full text of “The Real Mother Goose” can be found here, including illustrations.
Please click on link below for Word Format: