30 Poetry Project Ideas for Any Time of Year!
Years ago, while sifting through paperwork, I happened upon my old "Poem Report," dated May 24, 1989! While the memories of working so hard to perfect my original poetry (not to mention my handwriting, since I didn't own a computer then) came flooding back, I was able to flip through the pages with different eyes at that time—the eyes of a new teacher. I was blessed to have so many great teachers who inspired me never to stop writing. Although I never could remember which teacher assigned the Poem Report, I was finally able to honor her by giving my students their own project to explore great poetry and discover their own inner poet. And now, I want to share some simple yet fun projects with you!
I also added some poetry unit ideas at the end!
There is no one way to do a Poetry Project. Try a few and see what you love! Many of these ideas can be done individually, with a partner, or even small group.
Here are some simple ideas for a Poetry Project:
1) Have students create a Bio Poem. Bio Poems would be a tremendous beginning-of-the-year activity to get to know your students better. It can work from others' perspectives, like a character in a book. Bio Poems would be a fun way for students to show their understanding of characters and their development throughout a story.
2) Have students create I Am Poems. This is another excellent activity for the beginning of the year or semester when you have new students. I Am Poems are a more engaging activity than the boring old "tell me one interesting fact about yourself" game or "write an adjective that starts with the same letter of your name" activity.
3) Have students create an "I Do Not Understand" poem, for simple directions and an example, go here.
4) Found Poems are a way of taking an original text and recreating it to be presented as a poem, similar to creating a collage. Found Poetry is made from various sources such as newspapers, posters, signs, letters, or even other poems. The author would create a Found Poem by compounding different textiles and words to create a new poem about an existing text.
5) Have students create their own Sonnet. Be sure to give the guidelines!
6) Have students free-write listening to music. Or have them rewrite the lyrics of their favorite song, change the story or ending, or choose better words by using a thesaurus to see what they come up with. Making the connection between songs and poetry for students may seem obvious to us, teachers, but students are mind-blown. So using songs to open their minds to poetry is truly a powerful experience.
8) Have students create a group poem, passing (or even better-tossing) the poem around and having each one create a new line as it moves around the room. To ensure students don't sit long without anything to do, have them work on several poems at once. However, one of the rules is that each line must be new and original and cannot be repeated within the same poem or in another poem!
9) Give students a list of 6-10 random words and have them create a poem based on your guidelines. The words can be a mixture of nouns, adjectives, and verbs— really any random words!
10) Have each student bring a photo to school. The photo can be a personal photo or a picture from a magazine or newspaper. Have students create a 15-line poem telling the story of the image or from the person's perspective in the photo. If the photo is of a place or thing, have students write a poem from the perspective of that place or thing.
11) Have students turn a short story, tall tale, children's story, etc., into a poem. Here are some short stories you could use!
12) Have students choose an article from the newspaper and create a poem based on the information. Support your local newspaper or find an online source!
13) Have students create a poem where every line of the poem must begin with a certain alphabet letter, i.e., all lines start with the letter "s."
14) Have students create an epitaph in limerick form (I always used this one at Halloween—the kids loved it!)
There once was a teacher, Mrs. Bowers
Who lies here pushing up flowers
Her students drove her to death
Until her last breath
And now she's out haunting for hours
15) Have students write a eulogy in poetry form for something they value, i.e., cell phone, room, car, and privacy. This is a light-hearted imaginative way to think about how little things could mean so much to us!
16) Have students create a poem from headlines in newspapers, magazines, etc.; be sure to indicate a number of lines and whether it should rhyme.
17) Have students create a Sestina (six-stanzas, unrhymed), challenging and fun!
18) Have students create an "All-Lies" poem. This is important because, to write lies, you must know the truth. These can be as many lines as you decide and are generally non-rhyming. To help students with this, you may have them write one poem all about themselves, then switch it upon them and tell them that the actual assignment is to create all lies—or non-truths—about themselves; for example, "I do not care about my friends, room, or iPod. In fact, I wish I could throw away all electronic devices forever."
19) Have students write poems in pairs—one person writes a line, then back and forth. My suggestion would be to give them a topic or a simple poem outline to follow.
20) Have students create an Up and Down Poem.
21) Have students create a Five Senses Poem First step is to choose a topic, typically describing with an emotion and color, then tell how it smells, tastes, sounds, and feels.
22) Have students create a synonym poem. See Colin McNaughton's "I'm Talking Big!" which begins, "I'm talking big! I'm talking huge! I'm talking enormous, immense, tremendous!" This is a fantastic way to introduce what a thesaurus is, how to find one and how it can be used!
23) Have students create a 5-6 line tongue-twister (this can be a good exercise in alliteration as well). Here are some fun examples!
24) Have students create Cinquains. Short and sweet!
25) Have students create a Pantoum, a Malayan poem invented in the 15th Century. Pantoums would be a perfect activity to do with a partner or small group, consisting of a rhyming scheme and multiple stanzas.
26) Have students create Acrostic Poems; I am sure they have done this for their name at one point in their lives, so have them create an acrostic using a more challenging word, such as their favorite sport, subject in school, or—even better—a character from literature!
27) Have students create an "ode" to one of their favorite things. This can be a tangible object, like their cell phone, or something intangible, like exhaustion or frustration.
28) Create poetry across the curriculum! Have students create a poem about a figure or event they are studying in history or social studies, or have students create a poem using at least ten math words or concepts. For science, have students write a poem based on the biology of a frog or other concepts they have been studying.
29) Have students research a poet and write a biography—or better yet, a poem—about the poet! Need some ideas for poets- check out these options at Simply Novel!
30) Have students choose a famous poem, then create a copy of the poem. They can make a copy by imitating the poem's style, rhythm, and rhyme.
Although in the "old days," I put my report together on a couple of pieces of construction paper and a few brads, times have clearly changed. Have students compile their poetry projects and display them on Slides, Prezzi, Canva, or even a blog! Blog hosting is free and gives a perfect opportunity for students to share their work. One of the best ways to have the students feel proud of their Poem Project— have them decide how to present it!
Be sure to outline the guidelines and expectations for their poems. At the very least, let them know when they can or cannot rhyme and how many lines minimum (or maximum) the poem should have. I cannot wait to see what your students create!
Still wanting more Poetry Ideas: Simply Novel has many famous Poem Units, including Oranges by Gary Soto, Jabberwock by Lewis Carroll, and many more! All the poetry units include a variety of comprehension check questions, quizzes and will lead the students on how to write a poem.
Which project are you most excited to try? We would love to hear from you!