Help kids create found poetry from the words and phrases you discover in magazines, advertisements, and other sources. Borrow (cut out, write down) those words and phrases, rearrange them, and make them into something new!
Found poetry takes kids on a treasure hunt for wonderful words and cool phrases. Then, they will use those words and phrases to find a poem, to write a found poem by collaging together something in a new, poetic way.
I recommend writing free verse poems — but you could also consider other poetic forms including rhyming, shape poetry, Reverso, or haiku.
How to Write Found Poetry with Kids
1. Collect old magazines, advertisements, newspapers, old books, junk mail, grocery lists, or anything with printed text.
2. Once you have an assortment of recycled materials, ask children or students to cut out juicy, favorite words and phrases with the intention to use them later in a poem.
Cutting is so essential for younger children still practicing fine motor skills. So, this in and of itself is an important task to increase fine motor skills.
Show kids how you look for words and phrases with cool colors, interesting lettering (fonts), and surprising combinations.
Once your kids have collected a pile of cool words and phrases, help them to start creating a found poem.
3. Ready to write found poetry? Play with words and phrases. Try different arrangements. When you find an arrangement you like, read it out loud. If you like it, you’ve found a poem!
See examples of the poem creation process below.
Show students and children how they can move around your words and phrases until you have a poem that works. Or several poems that work.
You will model that some combinations make zero sense, but with a little bit of creativity and thought, you can create a found poem about something meaningful. Young writers don’t need to necessarily plan what the meaning will be before. Tell them to let the poem surprise them. Then ask what it means when it’s done and why they like it.
Alternatively, you might try this “Word Mover” tool online.
Here is an example of one found poem I wrote today.
6. To save your found poems, ask children to glue their finished poems to a blank sheet of paper!
“Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.” – Edgar Allan Poe
ADAPTATION FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN: Ask young writers to start with a color sort of the words if your child is not yet a reader. Sort our words into the color of the text or background. Then, you can read the words for them.
You’ll have so much creative fun as you explore found poetry!
MORE Fun Word Activities:
“All writing is in fact, cut-ups. A collage of words read heard overhead. What else?”
— William Burroughs