It has been my experience that most secondary students don’t enjoy poetry. Sure, there are a select few of the artsy types that get into it, but most students are not fans. To be honest, I’ve not always been a big poetry fan either, so I can relate. But as I’ve grown to learn, poetry doesn’t have to be stuffy, boring, or traditional. Once you experience a few fun poetry activities, suddenly both reading and writing poetry becomes a lot more enjoyable for everyone!
This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog!
Fun poetry activities for high school and middle school students:
Turn a sonnet into a storybook:
When we do Shakespeare’s sonnets, I assign each group one sonnet, and they turn it into a simplified version for children using a set of illustrations provided by an online storybook generator. This results in my not having to teach each sonnet one by one and students actually enjoying the challenge of figuring it out on their own. #teacherwin
Here is an example from the funny Sonnet 130 “My Mistress’ Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun” :
Back when it was free, I used Storybird storybook maker for years in my high school English class. I was sad when they switched over to a paid subscription, but I can totally understand from a business standpoint because this program is AMAZING. The art and features are phenomenal and have helped students create so many fun ELA projects over the years. I think they still offer a free trial, but here’s a list of other picture book maker options:
- PPT or Google Slides
- Craft supplies
Turn a boring piece of text into a creative Blackout Poem.
No matter what novel or short story you are reading, there’s probably that one passage where the author seems to ramble on with a description or shows off with extra flowery language. While reading To Build a Fire, I found a full page of snowy, cold landscape description that I knew would be just perfect for a Blackout Poetry activity. The assignment was to black out words from the passage so that the remaining words would represent the mood of the story. You can read more about creating Blackout Poetry here: Blackout Poetry Ideas, Lesson Plans, and Examples
Turn an overused Venn Diagram into a fun poem:
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good thinking map. However, it’s also good to switch things up and challenge our brains. For example, instead of doing another Venn Diagram to compare and contrast, spice it up by having them write a Diamante poem instead! You can get this free worksheet here: FREE POETRY RESPONSE SAMPLE
Turn challenging poetry reading into creative poetry writing:
If you struggle with thinking of fun poetry activities to do after reading a challenging poem, then let me introduce you to Golden Shovel Poetry.
Invented by Terrance Hayes in 2010, Golden Shovel poetry is a contemporary poetic form that involves taking a line or lines from an existing poem and using each word of that line as the end word of each line of a new poem.
It’s easier to understand this type of poetry when you see it rather than read about it. Take a look:
We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks (original poem)
The Golden Shovel by Terrance Hayes (Golden Shovel)
The Bronze Legacy by Effie Lee Newsome (original poem)
Like an Eagle Pictured above by Nikki Grimes (Golden Shovel)
For more examples, I highly recommend the books Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance and/or One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes. Not only do these books feature original poetry of the Harlem Renaissance, but they also showcase exemplary Golden Shovel poems. You can also find my Golden Shovel worksheet in this poetry pack.
Turn a figurative language lecture into a fun poetry lesson:
Another fun poetry activity for high school or middle school students is to write hyperbolic odes to ordinary things. For example, my Keeping the Wonder: An Educator’s Guide to Magical, Engaging, and Joyful Learning coauthor Staci did a hilarious lesson using the “corn” trend. You can watch her reel here: Ode to Corn
However, you don’t have to hop on a trend to have fun with odes. Ode writing is a fantastic and lighthearted way to practice figurative language any time of the year! You can see my iced coffee ode and grab my ode worksheet in this poetry pack: Fun poetry activities
I hope this post has convinced you that with a little inspiration, teaching, reading, and writing poetry can be fun! If you are looking for even more fun poetry activities for high school and middle school students, keep reading here:
- Paint Chip Poetry Without the Guilt
- Blackout Poetry Ideas, Lesson Plans, and Examples
- Teaching Poetry in Curriculum Context
Remember to grab your poetry freebie here!