by Elizabeth Cossick, M.Ed.
Okay, so not every child is going to be Langston Hughes or Emily Dickinson out of the gate. But that’s alright. As teachers and parents, we need to remember that some of the most effective learning is not about a polished (or publishable) finished product, but rather about the process itself.
So it goes with this fun little poetry activity. Since poetry can be a big yawner for many kids, spice it up with magazines. Have the children each bring in a magazine* for cutting from home. Then, tell the students that they’re going to write a poem entirely out of the words they find in the magazine. They will cut out individual words and phrases and glue them onto a large sheet of white paper in the form of a poem.
Step One: Model
Pass out magazines, ensuring that each students has one at their desk. Then, show a model you made previously (or, if time, model in front of the class how to make one).
Step Two: Get Inspired
Encourage students to spend some time browsing a magazine or two, looking at ads and article titles. If they see anything they like, they should cut it out and put it in a pile on their desks. Tell them to swap magazines after a few minutes, to browse a new one.
Step Three: Piece it Together
Now, using a glue stick, students should glue their words and phrases to the paper so they make one cohesive poem. This is a great time to address the conventions of poetry in a mini-lesson. You can discuss usage of commas and periods, as well as the role of white space in a poem: most often, the words go down the center of the page with a lot of white space around them. If students need a word that they can’t find, they can build it out of individual letters.
While the students are working, circulate the room and hold up good examples to inspire the other students and give them a few concrete ideas.
Step Four: Share!
Give students a chance to share their clever poems with the class. Then hang them up! The principal will wonder why your classroom is filled with ransom notes. It can be your and the students’ little private joke. :0)
* It’s a good idea to browse the magazines that are brought in from home BEFORE this activity, to ensure that the content of articles and ads is appropriate for your classroom. Tear out inappropriate pages. Bring a stack of “safe” magazines from your house as a back-up.
Comment on this post to win a $20 School Box Gift Card! (One comment will win!) Have you been in The School Box lately? I went in today with my 3-year-old and could have spent hours in there! Summer reading books, birthday presents, ingenious games…so many inspiring opportunities for little minds to explore. So…comment to win your gift card!