April is National Poetry Month! Have you written a poem yet? There are Poetry Month activities that allow budding poets of all ages to exercise their creativity. Older students and bloggers might want to participate in NaPoWriMo.net’s write-a-poem-a-day challenge. Check the NaPoWriMo’s blog for prompts and examples throughout the month. Or try something simpler. One of my students recently was delighted with her success using Wordle to help her write poetry. She chose a familiar object and listed as many descriptive words as she could. She plugged the words into Wordle and tried several different arrangements, playing attention to the way the combinations of words brought new meaning. Pretty soon, poetry!
National Poetry Month began in 1996 with the Academy of American Poets, and their website is still a treasure of resources. I especially like the 30 Ways to Celebrate link, with ideas appropriate for young and old. I was intrigued by the ideas “Put poetry in an unexpected place” and “Take a poem out to lunch.” The suggestions intended that readers put poetry books in unusual places, or pack poems in a lunch bag, but the ideas sparked my imagination. Imagine filling a school with poems hung in unexpected places, perhaps challenging students to do something similar at home. Imagine a cafeteria poetry slam. I’ll bet your students could do it.
And, of course, teacher-focused websites are full of poetry-related resources. The ReadWriteThink website from the International Reading Association has dozens of ideas, including a “Word Mover” that allows students to create poems online by moving words from presented collection. My first attempt featured a quiet monkey, eating guava in the moonlight with his cat. Not exactly Shakespeare, but it made me want to write more poems, which is the point.
Scholastic has a National Poetry Month website featuring videos of authors, and separate idea sections for young poets (grades preK-3) and older students. Young children learn about alliteration writing “I Spy” poems, while older students can come to understand Haiku as the poetry of samurai warriors. Teacher View has daily poetry podcasts for the month. Imagine having your students listen, then having them create poetry podcasts (or vodcasts) of their own. Perhaps you’d like to explore found poetry, or bookspine poetry. There’s even a Cowboy Poetry Week April 21-27.
Picture the possibilities, and I’ve just barely scratched the surface. From the sublime to the really really silly there is room for all kinds of poetry this month. And so here’s one to inspire you, straight from the cowboy tradition.
OK, one more I couldn’t resist, though you won’t be able to share with your students unless they can handle cowboy outhouse humor. Still, it does give a sense of the range of possibilities, even within that genre. If your students create during this poetic month (outhouse humor or otherwise), we’d love to hear about it!