A Collection of Poetry Activities

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A Spring Festival of Poetry
Total Group. Have students memorize a poem together as a class. Work on it daily. When ready, say it aloud and record it on a cassette tape recording. Perhaps when the recitation is perfected, you can arrange to have this tape played for the entire school over the public address system during "Special Announcement" time.

Small Group. Have students work in groups of four or five to learn a poem. That means several different poems will be learned by classmates. Set time aside for memorizing the poem. Give each student a copy to take home and learn. When the small group is ready, have them say the poem aloud for the entire group. (Set proper conditions for listening as an audience.) Record it.

Next, send a message to other teachers in the building asking if they would like to have poems recited for their group. Give them the choice of two different days and two different times during the day.

Sometimes there are students who do not yet do well with this type of memorization and performance activity. In an effort to have them included, they can go along and announce the poem, or stand silently holding a large colorful prop, or provide sound effects. Their contribution is helping to set the scene, or the mood.

Poetry Display
Have students write their own poetry, either using a formula or something original they want to create. They can illustrate their poetry and make a border. Frame the work with a construction paper frame. To make a splashy display of this poetry, hang it in the hallway along with giant-sized construction paper spring flowers. That means three-foot stems on huge daffodils and tulips! The daffodils can have large cones that stick out from the wall; spray some cologne inside of them for a surprisingly sweet smell of spring in the air.

Poetry Shapes
Make construction paper shapes of trees, rabbits, birds, flowers, and so on. This may inspire students to write a poem about the subject. The poems can be printed directly on the shape or along the outline of the shape.

Another helpful activity is to have students print rhyming words on shapes.

Poetry Favorites
Encourage students to copy their favorite poems from poetry books that are in the classroom. They can make illustrations for them and keep them in their very own Poetry Folder. Perhaps the students can learn some.

Poetry-Work with Expanded Sentences
To enrich children's writing in general, they need to be aware of descriptive words. Put this phrase on the chalkboard:

a big dog

"If we think about a 'big dog,' what picture do we see? We need to know more. What color is it? What is the fur like? Is it friendly? Is it snarling? Is it in motion or standing still or crouching?" Little by little, have students contribute descriptive words that you print on the chalkboard. Before everyone's eyes, the phrase builds to tell more about this dog:

a big brown dog

a big, brown, shaggy dog

a pretty, big, brown, shaggy dog

a pretty, calm, big, brown, shaggy dog

Now everyone can get more of a picture of this dog, making the picture turn out entirely different by the words used. Try this next with "a small cat." Students can do this again and again – and just by the words they select – can turn the cat, dog, horse, rabbit, etc., into a sweet or sympathetic or monstrous animal. It's a good exercise for the use of descriptive words. Perhaps in the end, it can become a poetic phrase that a student wishes to illustrate, or turn into a poetry character, or even be honored as a poem.

a small cat

a small scrawny cat

a frightened, small, scrawny cat

a frightened, snarling, small, scrawny cat

a frightened, snarling, small, scrawny, tiger cat

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