I’m Erin Dealey, and I write books for kids. I’m a teacher, presenter, rhymer, blogger, and proud Drama Mama.

More About Erin

Browse By


Enter your email address to subscribe and receive updates of new posts by email.

Poetry for ALL–3 easy activities for #NationalPoetryMonth

April 4, 2016

Another lesson plan? Fear not! As a teacher, I know the


IMG_6823 sm natural light

Thus, dear fabulous teachers, I present to you 3 activities you can use TOMORROW–with minimal prep– for #NationalPoetryMonth or those days you need just a little something extra to GET KIDS EXCITED ABOUT WORDS!


  • Minimal prep: ZERO. Read these easy instructions and try one before you share with the class.
  • Begin with a motto, theme from your Literature unit, line from a play or book, (appropriate) song lyrics.*

*This becomes the First line of your poem. 

Your poem then uses the last word or words of each line.

Line by line, the poem grows.

Grows until you are finished.

Finish your poem with words from your First line.

First line / Last line poems write themselves !

Note: The poems can be a long as you want. I usually tell my students to try for 8-10 lines total, but really it’s up to you.


2. POETRY JAM:  Begin the morning with a poem. Seriously this takes five minutes–depending on the length of the poem you choose, and if your students beg for more…

  • Minimal prep: Pick a poem or a rhymed picture book to share with the class. I’m sure you have your own favorites. If not–check out poems by Jack Prelutsky or my friend Rebecca Kai Dotlitch. 
  • For older kids–read a poem a day of one of 2015 Newbery Medal recipient Kwame Alexander’s novels in verse:THE CROSSOVER or his newly released BOOKED. (Congrats Kwame!)

2p_THE CROSSOVER jacket.indd  Booked

Dust of Eden

  • What to do: No, this is not just a read-aloud by you. Line by line, you–the teacher– (or a selected student) reads the poem selection aloud with expression. *After each line, the class repeats whatever was just said.

Example using another variation: try a Tongue Twister: ; )

Whether the Weather is cold. Or whether the weather is hot. (class repeats)

We’ll be together whatever the weather (class repeats)

Whether we like it or not! (class repeats)

That’s it. Zero prep, once again, really. And why would you TAKE THE TIME to do this? It gets the words in the mouths of your students. Words they might not ordinarily use. They feel the rhythm. You’re sharing awesome poetry, but not in a way that students can easily tune out. They have to LISTEN

          3. POKER POEMS –(Tell the older kids this is Five Card Stud and they’ll get it right away!)

  • Materials needed: old business cards. *I have recycled my own, my mother-in-law’s, my husband’s–It doesn’t matter as long as one side is blank.
  • Minimal prep: Building your deck

poker poems part 1

  1. The next time your class reads a story or chapter together, have them pick out the words that zing. (Or email me and I’ll send you my Poker Poems starter list so you can make the deck(s) yourself…)
  2. Write each word on the blank side of the business cards. One per card.

Playing/writing Poker Poems: Groups of 5-6–one deck per group

  • Choose a dealer –one for each group.
  • Dealer deals 5 cards FACE DOWN to each player, as well as herself.
  • When you say “Go,” players turn their cards over.  The object is to make a “sentence” using all 5 cards. Note: Sentences do NOT have to make sense. 
  • Example: The five cards I got were moonlight, fragile, message, echo, and shattered.

poker poems part 2

  • You may add suffixes, prefixes, and as many extra words as you wish.
  • Write your sentence on your paper.

My sample “sentence” (Eventually you can have them write it as a poem.) =

The echo of the moonlight shattered the fragile message. OR–in poem format:

The echo of the moonlight


the fragile message.

  • For Round Two, players may get rid of any or all 5 words, and the Dealer will deal the same amount of new ones, so the players have five cards as before. Proceed as above, making a new sentence out of the words on your cards.  Write it down.
  • Repeat for Round Three,  and more if you have time!
  • Add to the decks any time your students find a cool word in a story. Builds #Fluency!

Happy writing–and teaching–my friends. I love sharing these activities and more at writing workshops and Teacher Inservices–and on Pinterest (Erin Dealey)– and they work with all ages. If you try any of them, I would love to hear from you. Send student writing via my Contact Erin info on my web site–or find me on Twitter or Instagram @erindealey.


Comments Off on Poetry for ALL–3 easy activities for #NationalPoetryMonth

No comments on this post yet.