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Poetry Activities for Kids

Instructor: Andrea Losa
Whatever the age group of your students, there are numerous ways to explore the art of poetry to build both comprehension and appreciation. Learn about different poetry activities for different age groups, and find poetry teaching/learning resources.

Poetry Activities for 1st-4th Grade

Listening, Discussion, and Art Activities

One of the first ways to teach poetry appreciation to young readers is to read poetry aloud with them. Listening activities will help younger students to understand the basics of poetic techniques, such as rhyme, and group discussion can help them grasp a poem's meaning. Read a visual poem with a simple structure like William Makepeace Thackeray's 'At the Zoo' or Carl Sandburg's 'The Fog' together with your students, discussing with them aloud their own experiences visiting the zoo or viewing a fog, and then ask your students to each copy and illustrate the poem.

Performance Activities

Some poems really lend themselves to the idea of performance. To help your students get an idea of the musicality and liveliness that poetry can contain, try reading together as a class a poem such as 'Cat-Rap' by Grace Nichols. After reading the poem, have your students decide how they would like to perform the poem together. This may include the use of musical instruments, designing the scenery, assigning roles, and even dancing. You may also break your students up into groups and allow them to perform the poem in their own way to demonstrate how readers may interpret poems differently.

Poetry Activities for 5th-8th Grade

Teaching Meaning

Many older poems contain sentence structure and phrasing that younger readers may find confusing, but reading these poems together can help students decipher their meaning. Read 'The Blind Boy' by Colley Cibber with your class, and ask your students to write a one-sentence summary of each stanza of the poem. Go over with your students any words from the poem that are unfamiliar to them, helping them to realize that many of these words are just older versions of words they know. Ask them to consider who the speaker of the poem is, what the speaker's feelings are, and how they feel about the speaker.

Learning About Types of Poetry

Work with your students to develop their own poetry collections. After reading through several examples of different types of poems such as haiku, acrostic, and cinquain with them as a class, providing each student with copies of the poems, they can then try their hands at some different styles. Allow your students to select three or more styles of poems from the types you have reviewed in class and have them create their own free verse poem to include in their collections.

Poetry Activities for High School Students

Integrating Knowledge of Poetry

High school age students are ready to begin to grasp the deeper meanings of poetry. With any poems you cover in class, try breaking the class up in groups and assigning a particular aspect of a poem for each group to analyze. One group may look at a poet's word choice, another may explore the form and meter, while another may look at a poem's context or analyze its meaning. As a class, review the findings of each group, and allow students to ask questions of each other.

Uncovering the Power of Words

Have your students select a favorite poem to present to the class. As part of the presentation, have each student conduct background research on the poet and the poem. Also, ask the student to share his or her own response to the poem, explaining why he or she chose it. Encourage students to recite the poem according to their understanding of it, and ask them why they chose to perform the poem as they did.

Learning More about Poetry

The Poetry Archive website features numerous resources for teachers, including lesson plans and links to poems and information on poets.

Additionally, Study.com has many user-friendly courses, lessons, and practice quizzes to help students grasp all aspects of poetry, such as poetic devices and rhyme schemes.

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