Today, March 21, is World Poetry Day. This is a great opportunity to get out some favorite poems and get the kids writing, but why stop at a day? Here’s enough poetry themed fun to keep you busy all week.
Poetry ideas for every subject…
Math: Give the kids some paper and pencils and tell them they’re going to write free verse dice poems. Get out the dice and have each child roll a die to determine how many words should be on each line. Read a couple of examples of free verse poetry to show them that there doesn’t have to be any rhyme or determined rhythm (try this one from PBS Kids’ Arthur show). Let them call the poems finished whenever they feel right.
Science: Challenge the kids to write a science poem. Here are examples of poems written by kids in all different formats about all different scientific subjects. There’s a shape poem about a tornado, a rhyme about the scientific method, an acrostic about snakes, a limerick about magnets, a cinquain about salt cubes through a microscope and more. This page also tells you how to write each kind of poem.
Art: Do watercolor poetry. Give your child a sharpie marker or other bold waterproof pen and put out watercolors and paper. Ask her to paint a picture, let it dry briefly and then take the pen and write a poem about it over the painting (along the side, at the bottom or all around it).
Social Studies: Find poems that were written during whatever time you’re studying right now, or having to do with the regions or themes you’re learning about. The best way to find matching poetry is to do a google search with your theme or time period, plus poetry. For example “Civil War poetry,” “17th century poets” or “gold rush poems.”
Foreign Language: If your child is learning a language, find a poem written in that language and ask him to translate it into English or vice versa. Be sure to read both versions out loud to see how rhythm and tone change with different words.
Language Arts: The sky is the limit here, but a few ideas are:
- Explain what alliteration is (the repetition of certain sounds in poetry) and challenge the kids to write some poems with alliteration in each line (for example, “I saw a silly snake come sliding…”).
- Ask kids to write haikus using new spelling or vocabulary words.
- Write a group poem. This is fun while driving or waiting in lines. Each person adds a line to the poem. If you like, ask someone to write the poem down as you go so you can keep it.
- Do free writing. Have the kids write for 5 minutes straight. Tell them it doesn’t matter what they write and nobody will see it, but they can’t stop writing even if they write lines like “I don’t know what to write, purple chicken eats my nose.” When they’re done, have them read over their writing and see if there’s anything they can use for a poem. This is a classic way that poets get past writer’s block and get fresh ideas!
Read Write Think has lots of suggestions for teachers and web sites to visit.
Be sure to also check out Poetry Out Loud, a national program that offers free lesson plans, poetry related materials and an annual performance/recitation contest for kids. This is a fantastic resource and they offer lots of absolutely free materials like books and CD’s of poetry read by past winners. Note that kids don’t write poetry in this contest, they memorize it and perform it. Winners at the state level win money and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. for the national competition. View the Minnesota details here.