Ever since my kids were young, whenever I mentioned poetry, I was met with moans and groans. Whether it was writing a haiku, an acrostic, or limerick, nothing seemed to spark much interest. Sure, we read our share of Shel Silverstein that produced some giggles, but when it came to writing their own, I think they would choose a math assignment instead. I don’t know why, because I love things where there are really no wrong answers. Silly or sad, long or short, filled with utter nonsense or brimming with depth, poetry has it all!
I am not well versed in poetry, nor do I remember being exposed to it when I was young. Poetry is one of those things that a person either likes, or they just don’t. I also think appreciation for this type of writing also changes over time with maturity. Poetry Tea Time may not be their “cup of tea”, and I believe I’ve missed the window of opportunity for poetry picnics in the park. Instead, I’ve combed Pinterest and Amazon looking for a few new activities that I am eager to try!.
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Artsy Poetry Ideas
One common complaint about writing poetry is that it is too difficult to come up with the words. With Paint Chip Poetry, you don’t have to! Here’s how it works: grab a handful of paint chip cards from your local hardware store, and create poetry with the words on the card! It sounds simple, but could prove to be quite a challenge, depending on the “color”.
The goal is to try not to overthink it, and let whatever comes to mind from the words on the card just flow, incorporating the given color names. You could use one paint chip card, or cut them up to mix and match them. You will find the names of the paint chips are quite poetic in themselves: Pensive Skies, Laughing Taffy, and Windswept Cliff are just a few of the names that are on the cards I chose. This site is a great source for examples.
My Life, In Tree Rings is another fun idea! This one would take more time, and you will probably need to get out the photo albums, but it would be quite a treasure when complete! I couldn’t find instructions, only an image for this activity.
Black Out Poetry is another fantastic form of ‘artsy poetry’ when you can’t come up with the words. The words are already on the magazine, old book, or newspaper – you just have to find them. Find the words by skimming the page looking for words or phrases you like. Next, lightly circle those words, and write them down in order on a scrap piece of paper. Mark out the unwanted words, and go back to the original print for for connecting words like “a, and, if, etc.) Using a bold marker, box or circle in the words you chose to use. Last, ink out everything else on the page! This is where young poets can really show off their abstract art skills. You can find a great how to video here!
Rhyme Time is a fun game that involves nothing but a piece of paper, pen, and your family. After reviewing different rhyming patterns, start the first two lines of a poem with the rhyming pattern of your choosing. Pass the paper to the next person, and let them add their two lines, then the next person adds two lines, and so forth. If you have a whiteboard or chalkboard, it could be a fun activity to do throughout the day, and read it all together as a poem for dinner entertainment!
Paint Chip Poetry is similar to the above DIY paint chip activity mentioned above, but in the form of a board game.
Poetry for Neanderthals is a competitive word-guessing card game where you must speak good or get hit with a two foot long inflatable stick. How fun is that? Using only single syllable words, give clues to your team trying to guess your secret phrase. If you mess up and use a big word, you get bopped. So, instead of saying “broccoli,” you’d say something like “green thing you eat for live long and have good health.” I recently purchased this game, and let me tell you, we had so much fun playing it! My 15 year old son was great at giving clues without breaking the rules. This unique game is definitely a winner!
More poetry ideas
- For the techie student, check out this list of online sites for interactive poetry building and more!
- Have you ever heard of a Zip Ode? Me neither, until now! A zip ode is a five-line poem about your zip code. Write the numbers of your zip code down the left-hand side of the page. Each number determines the number of words in that line.
- Bible verses, hymns, and song lyrics are great places to become inspired by great poetry! To me, the best bible poetry can be found right in the middle. Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. For full poetic effect, as well as highest overall accuracy, you will want to use the King James Bible.
- Create you own small scale version of a “PoeTree”! Use it as a centerpiece, and have an Onomatopoeia luncheon! I saw something related to this idea in a children’s book I had. Make a menu of noisy foods such as potato chips, celery, bubble gum, fried chicken – and enjoy a noisy lunch!
Poetry Books & Resources
Before diving into poetry, something that has helped me is reading a short biography of a poet. I felt like I knew them in some kind of way, and could appreciate and understand their style much better. The book, Lives of the Writers, I cannot recommend enough! It contains short snippets full of facts, humor, sadness, with an added measure of what may sound like juicy gossip. These are perfect get-to-know the writer books!
Another great resource is this collection of 150 Most Famous Poems. As a newcomer to poetry, I recently purchased this to get a taste of “the greats”.
If you have kids inspiring to become poets themselves, Write Your Own Poems from Usborne will give them plenty of activities and tips to spark that creativity.
Last, if your teens are interested in something more modern, Leave This Song Behind is a collection of poems written by teens, for teens.
Hopefully, this will give you a good starting point to fill your month with some out-of-the-box poetry ideas that your teens may enjoy. Remember, it is not your job to make them like something, only to expose them to different things.