Looking for poetry activities that will hook even the most resistant kiddo? Find them right here. I’ve put together 30 ideas for reading poetry, writing poems, and incorporating poetry into your other subjects and lesson plans.
Poetry Activities for All Ages
Whether you’re introducing haiku to your kindergartner, reading limericks with your middle schooler, or writing sonnets with your high schooler, you’ll find engaging poetry activities on this list.
Poetry is for every age group from babies through grown-ups, and anyone can use these activities. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself enjoying poetry a little more – or are inspired to write your own!
Have fun with poetry! Read, write, and incorporate poetry into your lesson plans. There are so many lovely, fun, and engaging poems and poets. Find some poetry that inspires you, and run with it!
10 activities for reading poetry
1. Listen to poetry on audio book
Listen in the car, grab some headphones at home, or bring them along for a poetry walk! You’ll find lovely performances of poetry from famous actors and the author them self! It’s interesting to hear how another reader can change the inflection, tone, and rhythm of some poetry.
If you find yourself tired of reading poetry aloud (hey, it’s not everyone’s jam) and your kid just can’t get into reading it to themselves, try listening to poetry on audio book. You can find cds for the car at your library or check out the variety of poetry available on audible.
2. Act out a poem
Be the flower. Be the bird. Be the butterfly. Take on the characteristics of the people, animals, or objects in your poems and perform.
3. Dance a poem
Stomp your feet to the rhythm, move like a tree in the wind, or create an interpretive dance. Dance and poetry are both arts. Can you communicate the meaning, the feeling of the poetry with your body?
4. Sing a poem
Some poetry has its own rhythm. Make up a tune to go along with the words. How will your song sound? Sad and low? Upbeat? Loud? Quiet? How can you express the meaning of the poem through more than simply the words.
5. Create a book of selected works
Decide on a theme, author, or style of poetry and create a book of selected works. These can be illustrated pages, typed or hand-written. Find poetry at the library, online, or from your favorite books. Bind them together to create a new book of poetry. Related: Seasonal Haiku Worksheets
6. Compare and contrast poems
Choose two (or more) poems and compare them side-by-side. Choose poems that have one obvious thing in common – same author, same topic, same style, or were written in the same year. Then find all the similarities and differences that you can.
Superficial differences are easy to find – like punctuation or subject. Dig deep. Why were these poems written? What was the author trying to communicate. How were these poems reflective of the time and place they were written?
7. Poetry teatime
Make reading poetry special with a poetry teatime. Everyone brings their own books and reads aloud for a relaxing, sometimes hilarious, and always enjoyable break from a structured lesson.
We love our weekly poetry teatime. My kids don’t love tea, so we’ve turned it into “poetry lemonade.” For great ideas about adding poetry teatime to your weekly rhythm, check out the Brave Writer website and podcasts.
8. Have a poetry picnic
If a poetry teatime isn’t your jam, head outdoors and make it a poetry picnic. Enjoy reading poetry in a relaxed, social setting. Bring your favorite books and a few new ones, too.
9. Perform a poem
Some people are born performers! If your child is one of them, encourage them to memorize and perform a poem for you. Trouble with memorizing? Type it out in large print and stage a dramatic reading. They might remember more than they think after practicing a few times.
10. Create a work of art
Mix artistic mediums when you create a work of art inspired by a piece of poetry. Use the paint, chalk, or crayons to express the emotion of the poem and illustrate the imagery. Then hang it on your wall or create a gallery of poetry-inspired works!
10 Writing Poetry activities
1. Write a poem
Is this one too obvious? Maybe. But hear me out. If you have a child that is resistant to reading poetry or one that flat out doesn’t like it. Encourage them to write their own.
“I hate this poem, it’s so boring!” they say. Well, why don’t you write a poem that is better? More adventurous. More exciting. With more rhymes and sillies! Or as serious as a heart attack.
If they think poetry in general is boring, remind them that song lyrics are poetry, too.
2. Use poetry frames
Poetry frames are a simple introduction to writing poetry for elementary aged kids. A poetry frame is a poem with important parts or phrases left blank. Encourage your child to fill in the blanks and create their first poem. Related: Seasonal Poetry Frames – Printable
3. Create a poem with found words
Cut words out of a magazine, ad flyer, or newspaper (do people still get those?). Or be brave and cut up one of your old books from the donation pile. Find words, titles, parts of words, and rearrange letters to create your own poem.
*Travel tip: If you are schooling on the road, this is a great activity for travel! Keep a journal and a glue stick handy and create found poetry from the papers and postings you find along the way.
4. Follow a pattern
If you’re studying a particular type of poetry – sonnets, limericks, and haiku are the most well known examples – study the pattern of the poetry and create your own. This is particularly helpful with kiddos that struggle with the creative side of poetry. Get down and analyze the poem’s algorithm – what makes it unique? The rhyme, rhythm, stanzas, spacing, punctuation…
5. Write an acrostic
We usually think of using acrostic poetry with young children. You certainly can! However, acrostic poetry can be fun for older kids and even adults, too. The vertical line can be a single word with each line beginning with a single letter. Or it can be a word, spelling a sentence with a different meaning (perhaps a the hidden meaning, opposite of what the entire poem expresses?).
6. Create a poetry book
One of my most memorable elementary experiences was creating a poetry book for the 1992 Olympics. This was a 5th grade project (stop calculating my age!), and we created all sorts of poetry – concrete, haiku, acrostic, and limericks.
Create your own poetry book. Choose a current topic (like the Olympics) or any topic that interests your child. Poetry can be about anything!
7. Take on a different point of view
Write a poem from the perspective of a person, animal, or object other than yourself. Encourage children to think like something else. This could be as funny or serious as you’d like it to be.
What’s it like to be a squirrel in a tree? What’s it like to be a prince in a castle? What’s it like to be a chair – do they long to be sat on? For a warm body to come join them? Or are you smushing them each time you thump down on their laps?
8. Write a descriptive poem
This is another good one for kids who get stuck on the creative/artistic aspect of poetry. Choose an object – something special or something mundane, and use your senses to describe every little detail of it. Sound, smell, touch, taste, and how it looks. Look closely enough and you’ll find many details.
9. Blackout poetry
What is blackout poetry? It’s when you take an old book and blackout most of the words with a marker to create an entirely new story. Create your own poetry using the words in an old children’s book slated for the donation pile.
10. Poetry journal
Not all poetry needs to be a finished work of art. Grab a journal and start scribbling thoughts. Take what you’ve learned about poems and structure your writing or free write prose and black it out after. Anything goes in a poetry journal!
If you are looking for poetry journaling inspiration, don’t miss the book Jabberwalking by United States Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera. This whimsical guide to writing poetry is sure to inspire. Herrera focuses on the process of writing poetry in an engaging an humorous way. Jabberwalkers are poets in motion! This book is truly a work of art.
I hope these poetry activities inspire your poetry lesson plans!
More about poetry…