Poetry is my favorite genre. Whether it’s to read it, write it, or share it, poetry has a special role in many peoples’ lives. Poems often have a mystical effect on the reader; making the topic relevant, more important, and even universal. While poetry should be celebrated year-round, in 2008, April was designated by the Academy of American Poets, as National Poetry Month. To help you celebrate, I'm sharing Poetry Month activities teachers can use in the classroom.
Poetry Month Activities for the Classroom
There are a number of Poetry Month activities that are quick, fun, and appropriate that can bring poetry writing to life!
Poetry Activity #1: Facebook Poet Profile
In my classroom in April, I have students research a poet and bring in one poem which that person has written. This year I've modified this activity slightly to include a poet Facebook profile.
I created a modified Facebook template, and students will use the information about the poet they chose to fill in the template, making the poet seem very current, even if they no longer are alive. Students will fill in the following elements on the Facebook Poet Profile:
Poet profile image
Cover image, maybe depicting things about the poet or the selected poem
Add information about their favorite first lines of a poem the poet has written
Select a poem to post to the wall for all to read
Once students complete the Facebook Poet Profile Poetry Activity, the Facebook page and the chosen poem are presented to the class so everyone learns about the poet and the poem. Download the template now.
An extension or culminating activity to this lesson would be to have students keep a folder of all the poems that were presented in class. After everyone has presented, students can review all the poems and write their top 3–5 (depending on how large your class is) favorite first lines. Students should include the poem and author. They could either tell you or write about why those lines were their favorite. This reader-response approach engages students in a fun poetry lesson with the text and provides teachers an opportunity to discuss language and its uses.
Poetry Activity #2: Daily Poetry Read Alouds
Teacher modeling is a great way to introduce new poems and poets to your classes. Some fun, short poems to use in poetry lessons are “Dreams” by Langston Hughes; “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop; and “Sick” by Shel Silverstein. Teachers can perform/model a read aloud the first few days of April and then assign students with giving a poetry read aloud sometime throughout the month. Most likely you will have to have 2–3 students give a read aloud each day so everyone gets to participate.
Poetry Activity #3: Poetry Celebration Challenge
Challenge students to celebrate poetry throughout the month of April with the 10 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month & Poem in Your Pocket Day handout. This handout lists ten ways students can immerse themselves in poetry. Give each student a handout and then challenge them to complete all ten celebration tasks! Students may need an incentive to complete the celebration challenge so choose a reward or treat they will receive upon completion.
Poetry Activity #4: National Poem in Your Pocket Day
National Poem in Your Pocket Day – an initiative that originated in New York in 2002 – will be held on April 21, 2016. This day provides teachers a great opportunity for students to write and share poems with their peers and others.
If your teaching outcomes for National Poetry Month include students writing their own, original poetry, then students write an original poem on the scroll or book template I have available for download. They will carry and share their original poetry on National Poem in Your Pocket Day.
Sharing poems on National Poem in Your Pocket Day can take a number of different forms. If you teach multiple classes, you could have your first and second periods trade poems, and second and fourth periods trade (adjust this trade to fit your schedule). You could have students choose a teacher or someone in the building with which to share. You could randomly choose names in the same classroom and have students exchange poems. You could present a challenge to the students to share with anyone in the school as a surprise!