April is National Poetry Month, but with state testing season closing in (or already arrived), it can be hard to find ways to incorporate this genre in fun and meaningful ways that engage students without sacrificing a lot of instructional time. Today I want to share a few suggestions for incorporating poetry into your already busy schedule and some resources to make it happen.
3 Ways to Celebrate Poetry Month in Upper Elementary
Incorporate Poetry into your read aloud.
Shel Silverstein is a guaranteed hit for this one, and unlike novels, you can bounce around and pick and choose the best poems (or most applicable) so that the experience is customized for your class. By using think-alouds while you read, you can key students into specific features you want them to notice. A few of my favorite poetry read aloud books are:
- Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
- It's Raining Pigs and Noodles by Jack Prelutsky
- National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry by J. Patrick Lewis
- For Laughing Out Loud by Jack Prelutsky
- Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka
Have a class poetry slam.
Okay, I’ll admit this one takes a little more effort, but it is SO fun and memorable for students. Plus it helps build reading fluency, speaking, and listening skills.
Early in the month assign each student the responsibility of memorizing a short poem – either one they've written (if you have done that…if not check out the idea below) or one selected from a set you provide.
One day (perhaps Poem in Your Pocket Day), take some time to set up your classroom like a cafe, leaving space for a stage. If you are really ambitious bring muffins and cocoa to create a coffee shop vibe. If possible grab a microphone (or make a fake one). Each student gets their chance to perform their poem on stage.
Bonus points if you get your students to snap for each reader after they finish.
Use the nice weather to write some spring poems.
One of my favorite projects each year is my Spring Poetry Pocket.
Spring is a great time to get students writing poems filled with sensory language because the weather is warming up and you can take them outside to engage their senses! There is something about sunshine and a warm breeze that is quite inspirational when it comes to writing poems…plus it is a great excuse for some extra time outside.
I loved having my students write several different types of poetry using spring themes for each. We used this as our Friday writing, and it is stored the final drafts in paper pockets on a bulletin board. This took the pressure off making a bulletin board change, and students could easily add to it without losing papers in their messy desks. The image below shows several of the poetry cards and the pocket students use to store their finished poems.
The display is an added bonus for this poetry project. Parents and administrators loved wandering by and reading the different poems students had in their poetry pocket. Plus, it was easy to take down, grade (I scored on following the poem format vs. content), and send home as a keepsake for parents.
I hope this article helped you think of some new ways to incorporate Poetry Month into your classroom. If you’d like more ideas, be sure to follow me on: