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Teaching 1st Grade Students to Write Poetry in 5 easy steps

Susan Jones January 2, 2022 Leave a Comment

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Wondering how to teach your students to write poetry in the classroom? In this post, I share 5 easy steps to get your students excited about writing both free form and form poetry!

Before I dive in, I wanted to let you know you can watch or listen to all this information in video format below:

In a recent video, I went over the reasons why we should be teaching poetry in our K-2 classrooms.

You can check it out here: Why we teach poetry in K-2

Once you know WHY we should teach poetry, you might be wondering HOW should we teach poetry! So in this post, I am going to walk you through some of the steps I take to teach my students how to write their own poems.

1. Explore Poetry!

This may seem obvious, but in order to write poetry, students need to first read poetry and explore all different types of poems on their own. Our students spend all year focused on structured writing, so it would be confusing to jump right into poetry where they might question the funky paragraph structure or lack of punctuation.

Some resources I love for helping students explore poetry include the following books:

writing poetry grade 1

One of my favorite books of poems for K-2 classrooms is “Shout! Little Poems that Roar” by Brod Bagert . The book includes all different types of poems along with a bunch of colorful designs and great illustrations.  

Another great poem book for kids is “Noisy Poems for a Busy Day” by Robert Heidbreder . This book is filled with sensory poems, so your students can get in touch with their emotions and talk about what they see, hear, and feel while reading.

I also love the poem book, “Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems” . This book is filled with short poems that are great for introducing your students to poetry. I also love this book because the poems don’t rhyme, which shows your students another form of poetry they may have not recognized before

And finally, one of my favorite poetry books for K-2 classrooms is “ The New Kid on the Block” by Jack Prelutsky . This book is filled with all kinds of cute, silly, and kid-friendly poems that your students will love!

I collected most of these over the years by looking in my Scholastic Book Club flyers for some fun, kid-friendly poems!

After introducing your students to these books, you can make copies of the poems for them to read on their own each week. When I was student teaching I made poetry pockets for my class like the one below, where students could share poems that they liked and thought their classmates would enjoy!

writing poetry grade 1

^^please note… a REALLY old picture, but I think you get the idea!

2. Focus on Our Senses!

Once students start to explore different types of poems, I like to start writing our own by focusing on our senses! Many K-2 students are familiar with their 5 senses and I find it to be an easy place to begin. Just like with any writing unit I teach, I like to explicitly teach and model how to write these types of poems too. To practice sensory poems with your class, you can give them a planning sheet like the ones below:

writing poetry grade 1

I like to start with one like the popcorn sheet and go through the worksheet with my class to brainstorm all the things they see, hear, smell, feel, and taste when making popcorn. Then, you can have your students move what they wrote on the planning sheet to a blank piece of paper to write a sensory poem of their own.

Here is an example of a first-grade student’s popcorn sensory poem:

writing poetry grade 1

As you can see above, we take each part of the brainstorming sheet and write a complete sentence onto our poetry page to make our poems! This student’s poem went onto a second page where he shared that spit was falling down his chin (from drooling over the delicious smell -haha!).

I have a bunch of different planning sheets for sensory poems in my Writing Poetry Unit !

3. Get in Touch with Our Emotions

After teaching sensory poems, I like to have students use poetry to get in touch with their emotions.

When teaching poetry to my class, I like to emphasize that poetry, just like any form of writing, is a great way to express your feelings. It can be difficult to jump right in and write a poem about our feelings, so I like to use a planning sheet like the ones below to pick an emotion they want to express.

writing poetry grade 1

The example above shows a planning sheet for feeling happy where your students can brainstorm different things that make them happy. Then, like in the sensory poem above, they can turn their planning sheet into a poem by listing out the things that make them happy. You can also challenge your students to turn it into a rhyming poem as I did in the modeled example below:

writing poetry grade 1

4. Introduce Students to Different Types of Form Poetry

When teaching poetry I like to start with feelings and sensory poems because they are free-verse it’s a relatively easy transition from the genre writing students are used to. They can simply take their brainstormed planning sheets and then write their sentences and phrases on the correct paper. After we’ve practiced those types of poems, I like to introduce all sorts of fun form poetry!

writing poetry grade 1

 Some of the form poems I like to cover in K-2 classes are:

Acrostic Poems

Color Poems

Cinquain Poems

Shape Poems

& Haiku!

My favorites to teach are probably acrostic, color, and shape in first grade!

Here are some cute examples of shape poems my students have done in the past:

writing poetry grade 1

Here the student chose to write in the shape of a fish and then color around it!

writing poetry grade 1

In this one a student is writing about the wind and chose to write where the kite would be flying! So creative!

writing poetry grade 1

And here this student chose to write in the stem of the flower! For all shape poems, I have students describe the shape they are drawing!

For each type of form poetry, I include examples and descriptions of how to write each one in my Poetry Writing Unit for K-2 !

5. Add Templates and Planning Sheets to a Writing Center

After your students have written all the different types of poems you wanted to teach them, my last step is to put the templates and brainstorming sheets in a writing center! These poems are so much fun to write and my students love having poetry as an option during writing time!

writing poetry grade 1

I also like to throw some easy topic cards and some poetry book covers in my writing center! This helps students with poetry prompt ideas and lets them make more than one poem so they can publish their own book!

Do you teach poetry writing in your classroom?? If so, what’s your favorite type of poem to teach?

All the sheets and examples of poetry included in this post can be found in this unit below:

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Welcome to Susan Jones Teaching. When it comes to the primary grades, learning *All Things* in the K-2 world has been my passion for many years! I just finished my M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction and love sharing all the latest and greatest strategies I learn with you through this blog and my YouTube channel! I hope you'll enjoy learning along with me :)

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Introduction to Poetry – Grade 1

With our Introduction to Poetry – Grade 1 lesson plan, students learn about the basics of poetry, including how to read simple poems and the difference between poetry and prose. They also learn about some common features of poems.

Included with this lesson are some adjustments or additions that you can make if you’d like, found in the “Options for Lesson” section of the Classroom Procedure page. One of the optional additions to this lesson is to have students choose their favorite poem and have them read it to the class or create a poster for it.


Additional information, what our introduction to poetry – grade 1 lesson plan includes.

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Introduction to Poetry – Grade 1 teaches students how to read basic poetry and how to differentiate between poetry and prose. They will also learn about some of the different parts of a poem, like sound, form, imagery, figurative language, and the speaker. This lesson is for students in 1st grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the orange box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. For this lesson, the supplies you will need are poster paper, colored pencils, glue, scissors, and the handouts. To prepare for this lesson ahead of time, you can gather the supplies and copy the handouts.

Options for Lesson

Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. Two optional additions to the activity are to use additional words or phrases and to have students use words or phrases from existing poems to match each of the senses. Another potential addition to the lesson is to have students choose their favorite poem and have them read it to the class or create a poster for it. You could also invite a poet to speak to your class about their experience. Finally, you could plan a “Poetry Week” with poetry-themed activities to go along with the lesson.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page includes a paragraph with additional guidelines and things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. This page also includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.


The Introduction to Poetry – Grade 1 lesson plan includes three content pages. The lesson begins with a few short poems that students can either read on their own or with the class. The lesson explains that all of them are poetry, which is a specific kind of writing. We also sometimes call this artistic writing. Poetry often aims to either evoke emotions or stir your imagination. Poets are people who write poetry. They choose the words in their poems carefully, making sure they reflect the meaning, sound, and rhythm that they want to.

The lesson then states that there are many different kinds of poetry. Nursery rhymes are one kind. They tend to be shorter and simpler, while other poetry might be longer or more serious. Poetry can tell stories, be in honor of a specific person, or even express something about life! Poems are different from stories and other forms of writing. Stories have a beginning, middle, and end, and include characters (either real or imaginary) who experience a series of events. Stories can be entertaining or teach people a lesson. Poems, however, are typically shorter than stories or novels. They almost never have the beginning, middle, and end that stories do. Poems are also usually up to the interpretation of the reader.

Poetry is also a more creative kind of writing than other types. They often use many words or phrases that are meant to evoke your senses, and don’t always follow normal sentence structure or punctuation. They are often misunderstood for these reasons. Stories have titles, chapters, characters, and a plot. Poems also have common structural features. One of these features is sound. This could related to the rhyming words used in a poem. Another feature is form, which relates to numbers of lines and stanzas.

Parts of a Poem

The next section of the lesson describes the five things that most poems have. Not all poems have all of these things, but many do! All of these elements are important to consider when reading or writing poetry. The first is sound. Poems often rhyme, and there is a rhythm to the way the author writes the words. Also, poems can include different words that have the same sound. The second element is form. The form of a poem is how it looks, the way it’s written, and how the lines and stanzas written or grouped together.

The third element is imagery, which are words that the poet uses that relate to the five senses. Using imagery allows a reader to better visualize and understand what the author is trying to say. The next element is figurative language. This is when people use words or phrases in a new way. One example of figurative language is comparing a person to an animal. The final element is the speaker, which is essentially the narrator and is the “voice” in the poem. All of these elements are very important to keep in mind when reading or writing a poem.


The Introduction to Poetry – Grade 1 lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.


For the activity worksheet, students will cut out phrases that might appear in poems. They must then glue them under the correct sense. They will also include drawings or pictures for each phrase.

Students may also work either in pairs or groups for the activity if you’d prefer.


The practice worksheets asks students to read two poems and answer questions about them. This allows students to practice doing close readings of poetry using what they learned during the lesson.


For the homework assignment, students will read an excerpt from a poem called Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley. They must then answer questions about the poem, with help from a parent or other adult if necessary.

Worksheet Answer Keys

This lesson plan includes answer keys for the activity worksheet, the practice worksheet, and the homework assignment. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

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Wonderful Lesson and Acitivities

I love the Poetry Lesson I utilized from Clarendon. It was truly helpful in assisting my instruction of poetry. Fantastic!

Introduction to Poetry

This lesson was very beneficial to my poetry class.

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Poetry Writing Lessons for Kids

Poetry Writing Lessons for Kids

There are many different ways to write poems as well as lots of techniques you can learn to help you improve your writing skill. Here are many of the poetry writing lessons for children that I have created to help you become a better poet, including how to write funny poetry, poetic rhythm, poetic forms and other styles of verse, as well as lesson plans for teachers and video lessons.

How to Write Funny Poetry

  • Chapter 1: Writing Poetry
  • Chapter 2: How to Rhyme
  • Chapter 3: Choosing a Topic
  • Chapter 4: Making it Funny
  • Chapter 5: Types of Funny Poems

Rhythm in Poetry

  • You Can Scan, Man
  • I Am the Iamb
  • Okie Dokie, Here’s the Trochee
  • More than Two Feet

Poetic Forms

A poetic “form” is a set of rules for writing a certain type of poem. These rules can include the number of lines or syllables the poem should have, the placement of rhymes, and so on. Here are lessons for writing several common poetic forms.

  • How to Write an Acrostic Poem
  • How to Create Book Spine Poetry
  • How to Write a Cinquain Poem
  • How to Write a Clerihew
  • How to Write a Concrete or “Shape” Poem
  • How to Write a Diamante Poem
  • How to Create a “Found Poem”
  • How to Write a Free Verse Poem
  • How to Write a Haiku
  • How to Write a Limerick
  • How to Write a Sonnet
  • How to Write a Tanka Poem
  • How to Write a Triolet

Other Poetic Styles

There are many different styles of poems. These are not “poetic forms” because they don’t usually have firm rules about length, syllable counts, etc., but they are common enough that many well-known children’s poets have written poems like these.

  • How to Write an Alliteration Poem
  • How to Write an Apology Poem
  • How to Write a “Backward” Poem
  • How to Write an Exaggeration Poem
  • How to Write a “Favorite Things” List Poem
  • How to Write a Funny Epitaph Poem
  • How to Write a Funny List Poem
  • How to Write a Traditional “Mother Goose” Nursery Rhyme
  • How to Write a Fractured Nursery Rhyme
  • How to Write an “I Can’t Write a Poem” Poem
  • How to Write an Onomatopoeia Poem
  • How to Write an Opposite Day Poem
  • How to Write a “Playing With Your Food” Poem
  • How to Write a Repetition Poem
  • How to Write Riddle Rhymes
  • How to Write a “Roses are Red” Valentine’s Day Poem
  • How to Write a Silly Song Parody
  • How to Write a Tongue Twister

Reciting Poetry

  • How to Host an Open Mic Poetry Party
  • How to Host a Poetry Slam
  • How to Recite a Poem Like an Expert

Other Poetry Writing Lessons

  • Can You Make Up Words?
  • Describe the Sky – A Poetry Creativity Workout
  • Evoking the Senses in a Poem
  • Five Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block
  • How to Start a Poetry Journal
  • “Forced Rhymes” and How to Avoid Them
  • That Doesn’t Sound Right to Me
  • Twenty Fun Writing Prompts for Kids

Poetry Lesson Plans for Teachers

  • Alliteration and Assonance Lesson Plan
  • Onomatopoeia Poetry Lesson Plan
  • Personification Poetry Lesson Plan
  • Rhyme Schemes Lesson Plan
  • Simile and Metaphor Lesson Plan

Video Poetry Lessons

  • Awesome Acrostics – A video poetry writing lesson
  • How to Rhyme – A video poetry writing lesson

Poetry Dictionaries and Rhyming Words Lists

When reading these lessons, you may come across some unfamiliar words. If you see a poetic term and don’t know what it means, you can always look it up in the Poetic Terms Dictionary. Poetry4kids also has a rhyming dictionary and a list of rhyming words you can use to help you write poems.

  • Poetic Terms Dictionary for Kids

Rhyming Dictionary for Kids

  • Rhyming Words Lists

Other Useful Poetry-Writing Lessons

There are loads of websites on the Internet that offer helpful lessons for children on how to write poems. Here are a few you may find useful:

  • Writing Rhyme and Meter
  • How to Teach Poetry Writing in Four Easy Lessons
  • Poetry Worksheets and Printables

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Poetry Writing Unit for Primary Grades

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I love teaching poetry to kindergarten and first grade students!

Even though I have this labeled as Unit 8 in my Writing Series , I actually teach poetry throughout the entire year.

We follow the same routine and students look forward to our poetry week every month.

I am sharing a few fun FREE POEM activities on this post.

These are the anchor charts I refer to often on our classroom wall, and we love to practice the figurative language.

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Black and white versions of these posters are included as well, and I put them in my students’ poetry folders (see below.)

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I make my students Poetry Folders , and this makes it super easy to prep and plan for the entire year.

My kiddos love this, and so do I!

I start the year off by teaching my students these terms and we have fun practicing them.

There are some cute, free videos on YouTube I’ll add links to that practice figurative language.

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For my students’ first poem, we do an All About Me Poem which reminds them that poems do not have to rhyme.

You can keep these pages right in their folder too.

I put them at the front after the Poetry Anchor Charts.

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Next we make our color poems, which all the students always love.

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There is a cute rainbow song we like to sing about all the colors.

After we do the Color and All About Me activities, we get right into our monthly routine.

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Every month we follow a similar routine, and the activities are hands-on and engaging so my students look forward to our poetry days.

We practice the same poem throughout the month to help them gain fluency and confidence.

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There are also several extension activities that correlate with each monthly poem.

I explain how I use these activities below.

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All my monthly poems are in color and BW.

I display the color ones and put the BW versions in their folders.

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There are so many ways to implement these activities and be successful!

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Poetry can be fun and stress free in kindergarten and first grade!

You just need simple, low prep activities for the entire year.

Here is what I find works well throughout the month.

Of course you can implement these activities as you see fit.

I prefer small groups for many of the activities, but some teachers are successful doing everything whole group.


Introduce the poem whole group . Project the color poem from your document camera or computer on to your front board and read it a few times.

Choral read the poem - my kids love doing monster voices, silly voices, witch voices, turkey voices, Santa’s voice, snowman voice… they think this is so funny! But it gets them engaged, reading and practicing rhythm, fluency, etc.

Practice finding their sight words in the poem.

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After reading the poem a few times in week 1 as a class, we read the poem together in their folders with the BW copies. I have them underline the rhyming words. This is the perfect activity to do in small groups (This is what I do on the days I am not doing my Read and Write like a Rock Star activities.)

Complete the comprehension questions that correlate - rhyming words, drawing conclusions and making an illustration. This also works best for me in small groups.


Looks like, Sounds like, Feels like, Tastes like, Smells like monthly activity.

Continue practice reading the poem.

Poetry Pocket Chart Activity (see more on this below)

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This is when I let them explore the poem in a pocket chart.

Sometimes I use this whole group in a morning warm up or if I need a five minute filler.

I just change out the poem each month!

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Writing their own monthly poem.

Continue with the pocket chart activity.

Practice fluency with the poem. By now they can usually buddy read it while I help students write their poems.

The monthly writing page comes with a vocabulary word bank to help kiddos who are stumped about what to write about.

This also helps with spelling key words.

Here is a peek at what a typical month’s work of activities looks like.

You can break these activities up throughout the entire month!

You can do the activities week by week (like I detailed above) or however you see fit.

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Each month gets progressively harder throughout the school year.

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August (Back to School) starts very basic, and by May, June and July the poems, comprehension questions and activities will be more challenging.

Ready to print some free poetry activities?

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The entire month of March is FREE to download and try .

Plus, CLICK HERE for a fun figurative language FREEBIE for you to try with your students!

Let’s get started teaching poetry!

free poetry printables kindergarten first grade

“Thanks for this awesome resources. It's very helpful.”

“I bought this when I desperately needed some poetry materials, and now I am sold. Not just on this unit, but I have my eye on the other units. Super accessible to the kids, and lets you implement poetry all year!”

“These poems are EXCELLENT! I love changing them up each month and my students love that the poem changes with our classroom calendar. I am using them in a first grade classroom.”

“Made teaching poetry in Kindergarten a breeze. Very structured for my K/1 self-contained class. Thanks! : )"


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Click each unit below to learn more!

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I’ll walk you through the entire scope and sequence, as well as all the standards we teach in kindergarten and first grade writing.


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The Brown Bag Teacher

Teach the Children. Love the Children. Change the World.

April 14, 2013

Poetry in 1st and 2nd Grade

From turning snakes into spaghetti and clouds into cotton balls, writing poetry is absolutely magical ! Students use their five senses and figurative language to create poems that break all the rules (punctuation, capitalization, directionality) they’ve been learning all year & make something is truly magical.

Our Poetry Promise

Exploring our senses.

After our initial kick-off day, we began a weekish exploring our senses to write awesome poetry. During this week, we smelled candles, listened to Duke Ellington (click here to read more about this), felt our room, tasted marshmallows, and observed Picasso’s Woman with a Flower. This week was all about incorporating the arts and we listened to must-know artists [as classified by ME] while we wrote. We listened to Mozart, Beethoven, Yo-Yo Ma, Chopin, and Duke Ellington via Teacher Tube . 🙂 On our first day of writing poetry, one my friends produced this treasure in response to Mozart – “When I hear the flute, it flows through my ears…” Wow!

As students explore their senses, we took five days to learn about adjectives associated with each sense. Having students explore concrete objects and then, write about them was a perfect way to start. Plus, our class anchor charts quickly became a fabulous resource while students were writing. I ended up taking pictures of each anchor chart and students glued copies into their writing journals as a reference!

Exploring Figurative Language

Our second-thirdish weeks have been spent on learning about different types of figurative language and then, students applying them to their current poems. We specifically focused on alliteration, personification, onomatopoeia, simile, and metaphor. During this week we read some awesome poems. My favorite is The Cafeteria which was written by a group of elementary students. My friends loved the idea that the cafeteria was a jungle and they were the wild animals! 🙂 As we studied similes, we also read Quick as a Cricket and as we studied alliteration, we created our own very silly name poems!

Poetry is Crafting Words

Then, in our third week, we focused on fine tuning our poems noticing things such as line breaks, removing extra words, adding powerful –ing verbs, and poem vs. story. Poem vs. Story has definitely been our toughest battle. One morning, I handed each table group the same set of words and asked them to make a poem. Very simple instructions; a very cool task. Students worked for 20-30 minutes as groups deciding the just-right places for words and line breaks. It was so fun to hear my friends ask “What if I do want to use ‘a’?” To which I said “Throw it out!” They felt like real poets making important decisions about word choice and placement. After all the poems were finished, friends practiced chorus reading and then, at the end of the construction block students shared their poems with the class. It was really neat to hear 5 totally different poems and hit home the idea that word placement and line breaks matter! [My only caution to you when doing this activity would be to use few words. I choose to use 25 words and it was A LOT! Next time, I would definitely try 10-15].

Additional Resources

Throughout the week, we also kept some great books by our side. Here are some of my favorites and Amazon affiliate links to just a few of the mentors texts that we used: I Am the Book , I’m Still Here in the Bathtub , Super Silly School Poems , and A Stick is an Excellent Thing .

Of course, no unit of study would be complete without one of my favorite resources – Brain Pop Jr . We really gave it a workout and spent some quality time with Annie and Moby learning about Poems, Similes, and Our Senses. If you do not use Brain Pop or do not have a subscription, start lobbying now that your district or school buys a subscription for next year!

In the video realm, we listened to Shel Silverstien read his Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout and Spoiled Brat on YouTube. Plus, make sure to check out this cute onomatopoeia video that Katie King ( Queen of the First Grade Jungle ) shared on her Facebook Page !

Well, friends. I hope you have collected some ideas for teaching poetry. If you have already covered poetry, feel free to pin any of these resources so you can grab them next year. If you enjoyed the posters and organizers you saw, click here to grab your copy of Poetry is Magic ! 🙂

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Reader Interactions

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April 14, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Thank you so much for the video link and poetry book suggestions. Your unit looks like it has been loads of fun. I love the line break & word placement activity.

Looking From Third to Fourth

April 14, 2013 at 3:45 pm

This looks great! We do a poetry writing unit every year and end it with a Coffee House Poetry day. We usually do our in Jan-Feb. though. Here is a link to the post if you are interested in Coffee House Poetry day… Hilary Second Grade is Out of This World!

April 14, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Your poetry unit looks amazing!! We do it at the end of the year, so I am gearing up with some plans. I'm going to have to "borrow" some of your ideas. Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

Kelly First Grade Fairytales

April 15, 2013 at 8:40 am

Great ideas…already downloaded the videos to use at school! I love playing with language in poetry! Thank you for sharing.

April 16, 2013 at 10:44 pm

I found you on a TPT forum. I love your poetry unit! I'm hoping to do an exciting poetry unit very soon! I will have to use the line break activity with my students. Thanks for sharing. Andrea Bouncing through 3rd grade

April 17, 2013 at 3:38 am

This looks great Catherine! Thanks for the video link. I'll be using that this week.

✿ Shari Keeping It Fresh in 6th Grade

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March 28, 2022 at 1:38 am

HI Katherine this unit looks great, I would like to know if the words for the break up lines comes in your TPT poetry unit? Thanks so much for all your wonderful ideas!

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February 9, 2023 at 7:27 pm

Can you link the cafeteria poem again? Thanks so much! The link isn’t working.

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September 3, 2023 at 5:54 pm

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