Poetry Activities and NEW Books

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Children’s poetry is one of my favorite ways to hook writers. After all, there are no sentences in sight. No paragraphs, not even capital letters sometimes.

Read poetry for enjoyment and experience with the form.

Also, read poetry to learn how to write poetry.

BUT, reading poetry can be good and bad for young writers. Bad if it limits children to thinking all poems rhyme*. (They don’t.) Good if it gives children models for how language can create powerful images and feelings.

(*When kids write rhyming poems, they’re usually absolute rubbish because the child gives up making sense in favor of rhyming.)

I want you to know that there are so many amazing poetry books available. In fact, here are four newly published books I whole-heartily recommend.

New Poetry Books for Kids

World Rat Day: Poems About Real Holidays You’ve Never Heard Of

by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Anna Raff

You’d be right if you looked at the title and thought these would be witty delights. They are!

March 15 is Worm Day. (In case you didn’t know.)

What the Worm Knows

Take my advice:
For your own good,
Stay away from
The Robin ‘hood

Coming up on May 12 is Limerick Day and on May 13 is Frog Jumping Day!

The Forest has a Song 

by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, illustrated by Robbin Gourley

I’ve been a big fan of Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s blog, The Poem Farm, and am thrilled to share that her first book is out!! Download activities here.

First Flight (click to hear it read by Amy)

Mommy, I’m scared to be this high.
   All owls are scared on their first try.

My tail feathers feel so tingly with fear.
   You can do it. Calm down. Careful now. Steer.

I can’t see a thing through all this black.
   Just go to Spruce and come right back.


Look, Mom! I made it! Wow! I can fly!
  I knew you could. You were born for sky. 

Stardines Swim High Across the Sky and other Poems

by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Carin Berger

I adore illustrator, Carin Berger’s, fantastical wild collages, dioramas, and found objects! Her illustration and page design should win awards – it’s wonderful. They pair perfectly with Prelutsky’s original creatures–magpipes, tattlesnakes, braindeers, and stardines, to name a few. I love Stardines for a bedtime poem . . .


STARDINES swim high across the sky,
And brightly shine as they glide by.
In giant schools, their brilliant lights
Illuminate the darkest nights.

When other creatures are in bed,
STARDINES still twinkle overhead.
In silence, these nocturnal fish
Are set to grant the slightest wish.

You’ll find these poems to be unlike Prelutsky’s usual silliness. They’re whimsical yet evocative and haunting.

Follow Follow A Book of Reverso Poems

by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse

Remember Mirror Mirror, Marilyn Singer’s fairy tale reversos? Here are more fairy tale reversos, or poems meant to be read from top to bottom as well as from bottom to top. (Why they’re called “reversos”.) They’re fun, make you think, and surely will inspire many writers to try their own reversos.

Birthday Suit

Behold his glorious majesty:
Who dares say he drained the treasury
This emperor has
sublime taste in finery!
Only a fool could fail to see.

Poetry Activities for Kids

K – 2

Hang favorite poems on a potted plant or tree. Can be published by others or written by the child.

Found Poetry
Pre-cut out (if time is a factor) words from magazines. Pile them for children to view, sort, collect, and use. Encourage children to use the found words to arrange and rearrange to create a poem that makes sense.

Nature Poems
Take paper and pencils on a nature walk. Put on your imaginary “Poet Glasses”. Look for the poems in the grass, in the bark of trees, in the smallest petal of a flower.

List Poems
Go out in nature. Write a list of all the nouns you see. Then next to the nouns, write the action the noun is doing.

Riddle Poems
Use your five senses and write clues about your topic. See if your classmates or friends can guess!

3 – 6

Word Walk
Write delicious, poetic words on rocks and leaves. Leave outside for your children to find. Take a walk to find the words and use them to write poems.

It’s a Dog’s (Cat’s) Life
Learn point of view while writing poetry! Take the perspective of an animal – your pet is a great choice. Write about your daily interactions with humans. Read “I Could Pee on This” by Francesco Marciuliano for ideas.

Found Poetry
Have kids cut out phrases from magazines. Have them work together to arrange the phrases in several ways to create different poems – and recopy in their notebooks.

Riddle Poems
Use your five senses and write clues about your topic. See if your classmates or friends can guess!

Memorize a Poem
Pick a funny, serious, or beautiful poem to memorize and share with friends.

Illustrate a Poem

Off you go now– read and write poetry with your kids!


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