Launched by the Academy of American Poets in April 1996, National Poetry Month is a special occasion that celebrates the art of poetry in all of its forms and poets’ integral role in our culture. Poetry gives students the opportunity to explore their creativity, expressiveness, and artistry through writing. This list contains exciting lessons and activities that allow students to dig into the importance of the writing style while also trying it out for themselves.
3-D Earth Day Haiku by Inspired Elementary
Haiku poetry is a form of traditional Japanese poetry that often uses sensory language to express a thought or feeling about nature. For this activity, students will take inspiration from the world around them to design and create their own 3-D Earth project. This is the perfect activity for incorporating both National Poetry Month and Earth Day into your lesson.
Paint Chip Poetry by Fabulous In Fifth
In this activity, students will explore how colors represent emotions and feelings and how that knowledge can be used to create a poem. After students pick the color of their paint chip, they will start brainstorming metaphors using their senses to describe their paint color. They will then write three similes that fit their metaphor to create a quatrain on their chosen paint chip.
Paperbag Poetry by Bulldog Readers
Introduce poetry to the classroom with the Bulldog Paperbag game! The object of the game is to become observers of their surroundings with their senses, but not their sight. These observations will be used to build a poem. For this game, teachers will select four objects and place them in the bag. Students will then be blindfolded before being asked to reach inside the bag and describe what they feel. After writing down the words students used to describe what they felt, students have the chance to guess what is inside the bag. The name of the item becomes the title of the poem.
Shel Silverstein Poet Tree Leaves by Harper Collins Publishers
Shel Silverstein is best known as the award-winning author of iconic books of prose and poetry for young readers. In this activity, students will explore Silverstein’s writing style and learn more about the different versions of poetry. Teachers can print out the full set of Poet Tree leaves using the link below. One side of the leaves feature some of Shel Silverstein’s poems, with the front side remaining blank for students to write their own. Once you have enough poems written down, you can start building your own tree!
Ice Cream Alliteration by Creative Curriculum
Introduce the concept of alliteration to your students with this simple and entertaining ice cream activity! After reading the poem “Bleezer’s Ice Cream” by Jack Prelutsky to the students (or showing them the read-aloud video on Youtube provided in the link below), students will brainstorm a list of 5 new Bleezer style ice cream flavors that are alliterations. Students will then design and draw their own ice cream cone, using colors based on their flavors, and then write out the alliterations of the flavor names by the scoops.
Rhyming Dominoes and Speedracer Game by No Time for Flash Cards
These two games are a great way to give your students a brain break while still practicing their ELA skills. On index cards (or whatever paper materials you typically use in your classroom), teachers will write two words on the card that do not rhyme with each other, making sure you have used all your rhyming words at least once. For the Rhyming Dominoes game, split the deck of card into two and hand each player half. The first player puts a card down and the other player sees if they put down a rhyming match. The first player with no cards left wins. For the speedracer game, leave two cards down to start and leave the pile as one. Students will flip the cards over and if it rhymes with your card, you grab it and add it to your line. If the card has a rhyme that works for both players it goes to whoever gets to it first. First person to reach the end of the finish line wins.
Poetry Spinner by The Classroom Game Nook
This poetry spinner is a great way to encourage student discussion as they read about poetry. This free printable spinner gives them simple conversation starters and helps them choose a topic for further exploration. Teachers can download the printable and use a paper clip held in the center with a pencil to use as the spinner. Students can take turns spinning to begin a deeper discussion into their poetry lessons.
Poetry Bingo by Teaching With Jennifer Findley
Poetry term Bingo is a great way to review upper elementary ELA vocabulary in a more engaging way. Teachers can download the free printable Bingo pages and call sheet with a list of terms, definitions, and examples of different poetry styles. Each sheet will have a definition or example. You can read off the term, and students will mark where they find the corresponding definition or example related to the word.
What are your favorite activities for teaching poetry to students? We hope you enjoyed this list of poetry activities for the classroom! For more National Poetry Month resources, project ideas, and lesson plan inspiration, check out our ProEd Poetry Pinterest board!