Spring into Poetry!
April is National Poetry Month. Dust off the poetry books and display these wondrous treasures prominently in your classroom. The dynamics of poetry help children learn how to write precisely and concisely, and provide a deep well of language to dip into. Here are five activities to make your poetry unit shine!
1. Poetry Theater
Bring poetry to life through performance. Begin by explaining to students that poetry is meant to be read aloud. Show them a clip from Poetry Alive so they can see how poetry is performed. Form groups of three to four students and assign each group a poem, or let each group find a poem with your approval. Students should decide how to break the poem up into parts, and choreograph movements for reciting their poems. In order to perform, students will need to memorize their parts. After they've had ample time to practice, hold your own poetry theater performances. You can invite parents or another class to watch!
2. Poetry Centers
Set up poetry centers around the classroom. You could have a center with poetry patterns,
a center with artwork and photos to use as writing inspiration, a center with poetry books to read and perform, a center with basic words to "crack open" and create mental images, a center with poems and blank paper so that students can illustrate poems, and a center with an audio library of poems. There are many possibilities to create centers for students to explore poetry and language in new ways.
3. Poetry Cafe
You can add spice to the end of your poetry unit by turning your classroom into a poetry cafe. Move your desks into tables, add a tablecloth and centerpiece (perhaps something with a small poem), and invite parents in for this special treat. Students act as waiters and waitresses, serving tea and cookies as they await their turn to perform their poetry theater and read aloud their original poems. Take plenty of pictures, and film the performances.
4. Poetry Portfolio Project
Set students on an independent journey to create their own poetry portfolios. Students will read a poetry book and write a response to a favorite poem, memorize and recite a classic poem, complete a visual poetry project, and write their own original poetry. Give each student a folder to keep all materials together. You want to give students different choices and opportunities to show off their best work. A poetry portfolio is a great way to bring your entire unit together in one cumulative folder.
Open Mic Poetry Night
Several years ago I started hosting an open mic poetry night at my local Barnes and Noble bookstore. This project began with my class and has turned into a school wide event. One evening each year we gather at Barnes and Noble. Students read aloud their original poetry over the open mic. This has turned into a standing room only event! Ask your PTA/PTO to help advertise the event by running off fliers to send home. Your student council can make posters to hang around the building, and make announcements each morning on the week of the event. Ask teachers to help support the event by making sure that each child has at least one original poem to take to poetry night. On the night of the event, ask students to form a line. Begin by letting them read one poem, and if there is time, they can read more than one. This is a fabulous event that grows each year. Contact your local bookstore to set up your open mic poetry night.
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