4 Fun Poetry Activities Perfect for Any Age

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

- “Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate 2001-2003

April is National Poetry month! While there’s still time to jump on the poetry fun, we wanted to share this important reminder from poet Billy Collins. Although poetry can often be intimidating to students and parents alike, poetry can and should be about exploration, fun, and whimsey.

If you’re not sure how to approach poetry for yourself or your kids, try these 4 poetry activities that are perfect for any age. Remember, as Collins expresses in the poem above, the only wrong way to do poetry is one that robs you of fun!

1. Poetry charades!
Read a poem and act out the action words. Poets often play with objects or people doing things they normally wouldn’t to cause the reader to feel a specific feeling. In the poem above, Billie imagines the reader waterskiing on top of a poem. He wants the readers to feel as much excitement about going over the poem as they do when waterskiing!

2. Picture it!
Poetry is filled with vivid images of unusual things happening. Choose one image described in a poem and have your child draw it. For example, in the poem above, Collins has a mouse running through a maze that IS a poem. Imagine what that would look like!

3. Do you see what I see?
Have your child pick an object and describe it using metaphors only. A metaphor is when you say something IS something else. For example, if you were to write a metaphor for the sun, you might say, “It is a spotlight on the musical of the world.” See if you or your other children can guess the object being described.

4. Please, pal, play!
Poetry uses a lot of alliteration, the repetition of a letter or sound at the beginning of words close together. These sounds help our brains to connect ideas. The well-known tongue twister “Sally sold seashells at the seashore” is a great example. The S’s help you imagine the wind blowing and maybe even the waves crashing by the seashore. See how many alliterations your child can write! (Note: not all the words have to start with the same sound.)

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