Art and Poetry Through the Year: Notebooks and Keepsakes for Your Students

By Michelle Sullenberger on September 29, 2011
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2

Students in 1st grade need to have many experiences in language arts to become independent readers and writers. Shared reading is a great way for students to “play” with language to become fluent readers. Fluency is further developed when children have ample opportunities to read text that is familiar and easy for them. In my class, we love to use poetry to build our fluency. Read on to find out more about our poetry notebooks and our yearlong poetry keepsake project.



Shared Reading

Each week, I enlarge the text of the poem that we are currently reading on chart paper or sentence strips so that the entire class can read along together. We recite the poem throughout the day, in all subject areas and in all kinds of voices, to encourage memorization.

We have fun reciting the poem together, in groups, and by lines. We close our eyes and listen to the words. We use Wikki Stix, pointers, highlighter tape, and sticky notes to highlight features in the poem. We draw pictures that illustrate the feelings we get from it. Our poems can be found on the walls, in our heads, in our newsletters, as part of our homework, at the art station, and even in our math, science, and social studies lessons. Of course, we hold our favorite poems close to our hearts and save them in our poetry notebooks.

Poetry Notebooks

Poetry notebook Each student has a poetry notebook. I have found the marble composition notebook works best. (Some teachers prefer a standard 70-count spiral notebook or one-inch binder.) Each child receives a copy of a previously learned poem printed on a half sheet of paper, to save space in the notebook. Because the students know this poem, they can feel confident doing this assignment. We often do this fun activity as our morning work.

The students glue the poems into their poetry notebooks and illustrates the poem on the opposite page. The double page spread allows the poem and the illustration to be opposite each other, so students won't need to flip back and forth between the pages. During our poetry notebook mini lessons, students use a highlighter to find sight words and mark punctuation marks, spelling patterns, rhyming words, and other phonetic patterns. These poetry notebooks can be sent home each week so that children can read the poem to their parents, added to the students’ book baskets for rereading in the classroom, and utilized at a poetry station in your classroom. 



Check out our poetry notebooks!

Hello bus Expert glassesExpert glasses

We love to reread our poems with a buddy while wearing our “expert” reading glasses.

Art and Poetry Books Through the Year

Cover Several years ago, the poetry notebook expanded to include a wonderful end-of-year art and poetry scrapbook. For this keepsake, I used the students' artwork and poems from the shared reading experiences. This memory book, full of art projects, poems, photographs, and monthly writing samples, becomes a perfect end-of-year gift or even a valuable tool for communicating progress. It can be as elaborate or as simple as you wish.

To get started, create a blank book for each child at the beginning of the year. To make each book you will need the following materials:


  • 10 sheets of 11"x17" construction paper in a variety of colors
  • 2 sheets of 11"x17" white construction paper for the cover
  • A spiral binder

I used a plastic binding machine and spiral combs to bind the pages of the book. If you do not have a binding machine, punch holes in the pages and connect them with yarn, ribbon, or metal rings. One page of the book is for each month of the school year. The front side of the page features a monthly art project and a related poem. For the back of the page, students generate ideas and record their favorite memories from that month on decorative writing paper.

Parent volunteers can assemble these pages for each student throughout the year. Give the volunteers the supplies and the directions, along with one student’s book as an example. On the cover we put a title, a student photograph, and the student’s handprints. 

An example from a previous year:

  Art pageMemory page

Double page     October page

Monthly Memories

This year I’ve decided to take our monthly memories digital. I am planning to complete a brief slide show each month featuring our favorite poems, artwork, photos, and projects. By the end of the year, each child will have a collection of videos by which to remember their 1st grade year. Here’s a glimpse at what we’ve been up to this month:


Check out these Scholastic professional resources for additional art and poetry ideas:

Screen shot 2011-09-18 at 10.51.19 AMScreen shot 2011-09-18 at 10.50.05 AM   

Click on the images to visit the Scholastic Teacher Store for more information about these great books.

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I used this in my first grade classroom and it worked great!

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