Free Verse Poetry Activities

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

Free verse poetry is a great way for students to experience poetry with the least amount of rules and structure. Use these activities to help students recognize free verse poems and write their own free verse poetry.

The Freedom of Free Verse

Developmentally, most students begin to test their limits and society's expectations as they get older. In this spirit, free verse poetry provides an open and engaging opportunity for students to express themselves without the constraints of more structured poetry. When students read and write free verse poetry, it is an excellent chance for them to connect with the roots of poetry and the unbridled expression of ideas, emotions, and opinions.

Let's look at some activities that can help students connect with and create free verse poetry.

Free Verse or Not

Materials

  • Various poems (some free verse, some not)

Teacher Directions

  1. Review the characteristics of free verse poetry. Show the students examples of free verse poetry.
  2. Have the students line up in the middle of the classroom.
  3. Designate one side of the classroom as 'free verse' and the other side of the classroom as 'other poetry'.
  4. Show the students different poems, one at a time. Some of the poems should be free verse, while the remaining poems should represent other styles of poetry. Each poem should be displayed and read aloud for the students.
  5. If the poem is free verse, the students should move to the side of the room that is designated 'free verse'. If the poem is another type of poetry, the students should move to the side of the room that is designated 'other poetry'.
  6. After each poem, discuss why the poem was free verse or why it was another type of poetry.

Discussion Questions

  • How were you able to differentiate the free verse poems from other poetry?
  • Were there any poems that were more difficult to determine if they were free verse or another type of poetry?

Object Poem

Materials

  • Various objects
  • Chart paper
  • Markers

Teacher Directions

  1. Choose an object in the classroom and walk the students through the process of writing a simple free verse poem about the object.
  2. Divide the students into pairs.
  3. Give each pair an object, chart paper, and markers. The objects provided could be anything such as books, balloons, toys, stuffed animals, kitchen utensils, etc.
  4. Have the students work together to write a free verse poem on their chart paper.
  5. When all the pairs have finished writing, have them share their poems with the rest of the class.

Discussion Questions

  • What was difficult about writing the free verse poem?
  • How did you and your partner go about writing your poem?

'Selfie' Poem

Materials

  • Examples of free verse poetry about human emotions and experiences
  • Digital cameras or access to the camera feature on smartphones
  • Printer
  • Access to computer
  • Notebook paper (optional, if students are handwriting poems)

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