3.04.2013

Hands-On Poetry Activities

Hands-On Poetry Activities www.traceeorman.com

Do you have students who struggle writing poetry? I always have several each year. A few activities that have been extremely effective with both struggling writers and those who love creating original poems have been the more "hands-on" activities.

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When your students are struggling writing, have them:
1. Write "chance" poems. They choose pre-selected words and put them into any order they wish. I have had students who hate to write come up with some amazing poems this way. The retail kits for magnetic poetry (which is practicing chance poetry) are pretty expensive. You can create your own using a digital kit, or simply cut words from newspapers and magazines (see below). I had students make these years ago and store them in plastic bags.  ONLINE ACTIVITY: They can create their poems using an online program like the one found on MagneticPoetry.com.

Use Magazine or Newspaper Scraps for Creating Redacted Poems

2. Create a "Dada" poem. "Dada" poems stem from the Dadaism art movement of the early 20th century. The anti-establishment movement often parodied art, or perhaps "found" art in everyday objects and images. Whether you consider their works art or not, they certainly paved the way for modern movements.

One "Dada" poem your students can create is to draw words from a bag at random. As they draw them, they place the words in the poem in the same order as drawn. That's it. When they want the poem to end, they stop drawing words.

A second "Dada" poem is a "sound" poem. Your students can create a poem using only sounds and record it for the class. Most of the sound poems created during the Dada movement were nonsense, not really words at all. However, beat-box artists practice a form of this, and while it may be nonsense, it's still interesting and can be catchy. ONLINE ACTIVITY: Students can use the website Incredibox to mix different beat-box sounds.

3. Have your students create "redacted" poems. "Redacted" poems are similar to "chance" poems, except they cross-out (or redact) words on a page, rather than pick and place the words. I've seen many beautiful examples on Pinterest using book pages. However, articles from a newspaper or magazine work just as well. (See my examples below.)
Top 3 Hands-On Poetry Activities
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Students can either use markers or colors to cross-out the words they do not want to include, or use white-out/liquid paper.
Top 3 Hands-On Poetry Activities
 The samples shown here came from the following publications: Entertainment Weekly, Car and Driver, MacLife, and Helzberg Diamonds.
Top 3 Hands-On Poetry Activities

For reluctant boys, provide them with a short advertisement from one of their favorite magazines. Many of my male students like hunting/fishing, sports, and cars. When given a short grouping of words about something they like, they'll most likely enjoy it. The only problem I consistently face with them is keeping it school appropriate.

Top 3 Hands-On Poetry Activities

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Girls typically write more about love and heartbreak. I have found jewelry ads to be most effective for them because they will contain more words like "love," "sparkling," and "irresistible."

Jewelry ads work well for redacted "love" poems

All of these activities are featured in my "Poetry 9-1-1: First Aid for Writing Poetry" packet, which also contains over 40 formulas for writing original poems. I recently updated it with redacted poem page activities. And if you are looking for additional poetry resources, I have over 35 poetry downloads, including many freebies. Click on the links below to check out my teacherspayteachers store.
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