National Poetry Month Activities
Teachers share their best ideas.
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
My students have been memorizing poems and reciting them to other classes. They love it and are very good at it!
–Kim Klenk, Wichita Falls, TX, Second grade
We are starting a student Poetry Alive! troupe in which 13 students have been working hard performing poetry. We are planning a coffee house-style show in the evening at our school's cafeteria. After the show, there will be an Open Mic for the audience to share their favorite poems. We did this last year, for the first time, and it was great!
–Nan Barker, Claremont, NC, Seventh grade
My students prepared a Personal Poetry Book. This special book includes different poems written by students, with some special features. These features might be a character popping out of the book, a bookmark, or pictures about a particular image from a poem. Students are totally engaged in this wonderful project.
–Jeannette Freeman, Philadelphia, PA, Fifth grade
After studying and writing poetry all month, we invited parents to a Poetry Slam. Not only did we share original poems inspired by Van Gogh’s painting, “Starry Night,” we also read poems from Paul Fleischman's Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices. In the past, parents have told me this is the most impressive presentation they have seen all year!
–Mary Ann Springer, Princeton Junction, NJ, Third grade
We used The Random House Book of Poetry for Children by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Arnold Lobel. We discussed Keep a Poem in Your Pocket by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers. The students made pockets to tape on the edge of their desks. Each day, they chose a favorite poem to copy onto an index card and add to their pockets. At the end of the unit, they each chose one or more poems to memorize. We made individual booklets of the poems to take home.
–Sharon Ryman, San Diego, CA, Second grade
We have been writing poems and collecting them. The students have bound the poems into a book, which we will share at an Authors Tea. Parents, grandparents, and other community members will be invited.
–Jennifer H., Fifth grade
I teach a third- and fourth-grade class. We have been working on a unit about the Civil War. During a web quest, the children found photographs or paintings that brought the Civil War alive to them. As they completed a chart about their pictures, they also created poems. This project tied in with the poetry we have been studying for the past few weeks. We have written several types of poems about the Civil War. All of the poetry will be published in a booklet to be shared with the school and community.
–Karma Brown, Baldwyn, MS, Third and fourth grade
My class has been studying poetry from Pulitzer Prize winner Theodore Roethke. We plan to visit his home in Saginaw, Michigan. Since many of his poems contain images of the plants and animals native to Michigan, we will also visit the Saginaw Zoo. After our trip to the zoo, we will return to the Roethke home to write some poetry of our own.
–Connie Baird, Hemlock, MI, Fifth grade
We tried reading and figuring out the patterns of poems, but my class was not enjoying the poems. Then, we read "Beans, Beans, Beans" by Lucia and James Hymes, which gave me the idea to write other poems using that template. We brainstormed different kinds of pies. The next day, we thought of adjectives to describe them. On the third day, we wrote our own poems called "Pies, Pies, Pies." The students were interested in figuring out their favorite pie. (Answer: pumpkin) That led to a discussion about the school's favorite pie. The children went to every class in our school and took a poll. Later, we came back and estimated, tallied, and graphed our results. Instead of a spring-break party, we opted for a pie tasting. The students have been trying to write poems in different patterns, i.e. AABBCCBB or ABABABAB. The pie poem was a "real-world" poem experience. They are not afraid to write poetry any more.
–Kelli, Encinitas, CA, First and second grade
We discussed onomatopoeia and wrote several examples on the board. Each student contributed words like hiss, zoom, buzz, and splat. I read a poem about cars that I wrote, called "Listen to the Cars." Each student then wrote down the sound that his or her imaginary car would make. The sound could not have more than two syllables. (Of course, there were some very interesting sounds — whoom! whoom! ) Each student was told to draw a silhouette of that special car. (Students who didn't feel comfortable with drawing could use symmetry.) Lastly, the students wrote their sounds on their special cars and presented them to the class. We integrated the sounds into the poem and had a lot of fun.
–Chiquita M. Reaves, Perry, FL, Fifth grade
I am a poet and mom who is home schooling my son, 6, and my daughter, 15. We studied and created our own poems. My daughter is a published poet and artist. National Poetry Month is important to us!
–Lisa Cabello, Phoenix, AZ
I have added literary riddles which I found on www.teachervision.com to my website. This site is loaded with National Poetry Month activities. My students concluded a poetry unit about a week ago. We took literary terms, defined them, and wrote samples for each one. The students also created a table to display information regarding each type of literary term used. The book was spiral bound and displayed at our Educational Fair night.
–Peggy Ferguson, Gainesville, FL, Fourth grade