April is National Poetry Month, when haiku and quatrain reign supreme! Free verse, cinquain, and acrostic are just a couple styles of poetry that your students can learn to write with ease. In this post, discover some amazing books and ideas that will get your students excited about the wonderful world of poetry.
Written by Arnold Adoff
Illustrated by Lisa Desimini
What a treat it will be for your students’ five senses to experience the poems in the book Touch the Poem. The poet’s vivid words will make your students imagine that they're tasting a delicious French pastry, seeing the beauty of fall leaves, and feeling the chill of a cold wind on their cheeks. The class will be enthralled by the unique illustrations and the way the reader needs to turn the book on its side in order to read some of the poems.
An activity to integrate with this book is to use the paraphrasing graphic organizer from Scholastic Printables "Say It Your Way." Have your students choose a line from one of the poems to write in the megaphone on the printable. Then the students are to rewrite the line using their own words. I enlarged the printable so they had the space to draw a picture as well.
Written by Jack Prelutsky
Illustrated by Doug Cushman
The acclaimed children’s poet laureate will have your students in stitches with these hysterical poems about the trials and tribulations students encounter in school on a daily basis. Your students will revel in these lively and energetic themes and comical characters. Because who hasn’t had their backpack weigh a thousand pounds or had to deal with the dreaded question, “What did you do today in school?”
After reading this book, have your students create a free verse poem. In keeping with the school theme, brainstorm with your students about what they like best about school. Choose one topic and make a list of descriptive words. In my class, for instance, many of the students wanted to write about P.E. Next have your students organize their thoughts and write down the words so the poem sounds pleasant to read. To finish the poem, the students can change any words or the word order so it sounds nice and can be read rhythmically. The top picture in this post shows one student’s final product.
Written by Nikki Grimes
Illustrated by Terry Widener
Shoe Magic tells the story of children's everyday lives but also encourages their dreams for the future. These heartwarming poems capture moments of what kids love to do most such as performing in a play, playing outside, or competing in sports. The title of the poem inspires a lesson on writing cinquain poems.
For this activity, bring in many different types of shoes. Have the students choose a shoe as the subject of their cinquain. A cinquain has five lines. Line one states the subject of the poem. Line two has two words that describe the subject. Line three includes an action word ending in ing that tells what the subject does. The fourth line is a phrase that describes something else about the subject. The fifth line is a synonym for the subject of the poem. Let the students use their imaginations and also draw a picture of the shoe they chose to write about.
Written and illustrated by James Proimos
If poems about belly button lint make your students giggle, then this is the book for your class! Get ready for some hysterical and yet sweet poems that will have your students roaring with laugher. They will be elated to share their own ideas about what the rules would be if they were in charge. All I can say is thank goodness they're not! You’ll see what I mean when you do this activity. Simply copy the title of the book, brainstorm, and write the students' responses on chart paper. Your students will have a blast with this activity!
Written by Joy Cowley
Illustrated by Elizabeth Fuller
Apple Banana Cherry is one of the best books to read when teaching your students how to write acrostic poems. The structure of these poems is simple, so your students can focus on thinking up good ideas for topics and descriptive words and phrases. Reflecting back on National Nutrition Month in March and on Michelle Obama’s “My Plate” initiative, have your students choose a food that is healthy to eat as their topic. Have them write the word vertically on a piece of paper. To create the poem, students will write one line describing the food beginning with each letter of the word. Begin by using one word for each letter, and then add more words and phrases to give the poem more life.
We would love for you to share the poems, books, and ideas you use to teach your students about poetry. Please comment below!