Activities for Poetry Workshop for 10-Year-Olds?
April 10, 2014 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Tomorrow I'll be leading a poetry workshop for around 15 4th-graders, which will take the form of two hours of workshop, a lunch break and then an (optional) reading by the students in front of their group and a couple of other similar groups. I have some ideas, but I thought I'd hit up the hivemind as well: what should I teach these kids in the short time allotted, and what should I have them do? Priorities are fun and inspiring them to think of poetry as something enjoyable they can do whenever they like. Individual, small group and whole group activities all welcome. Thanks in advance for any ideas!
posted by slappy_pinchbottom to Education (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not exactly sure how you'd tweak this to make it work specifically for poetry, but I did it last night with my Girl Scouts and it was a blast. Usually I have younger girls, but last night was a meeting with mostly brand new girls who were a bit older (so about 8 years old) and didn't know each other.

I gave everyone a bunch of slips of paper and had them all come up with a few characters, settings, and problems. Stuck them into separate bins, then each girl came and drew one from each and had to write a story about it. (So, kind of like reverse mad-libs.) They turned out really, really cute, and the girls all had a really good time. As a bonus, since it was all random draws, the stories were all pretty much guaranteed to be silly.

So hard to choose, but I think my favorite story might have been the one where the Queen of England bought a plane for me so I could fly to Mexico when I missed my flight.

I bet you could do something similar, have them pick a subject matter, perhaps a style of poetry to emulate, something like that?

p.s. If you do this, make sure you write "monkeys!" down on one of the slips. Monkeys are just endlessly hilarious. Even the word monkey is funny. Seriously, every time someone said monkey last night the room erupted in a fit of giggles.
posted by phunniemee at 3:00 PM on April 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Two hours is a long time to keep kids engaged. You are going to want 3 to 4 activities.

1. Imagery: Read a poem that uses "like". Put up 5 blank posters and on one write "A monkey is like a... and the next is "A football is like a... etc... The kids circulate and write one sentence on each poster. "A monkey is like an explosion of fur." Then read the 5 poems.

2. Rhyme: Read a poem with lots of rhyming. Get a big trackball and have them sit in a circle. Start with a word and toss the ball to the next person, who has to say a word that rhymes or they are out. Continue til one person is left.

3. Rhythm: Read a poem with great rhythm, like a ballad. Give them percussion stuff, to pound along. Try different meters. Which feel sad? Happy? Like a horse?

4. Presentation: Watch a poetry slam video. Take turns reading a poem out loud to another person, impressively. Let them ham it up a bit.

Thank you for doing this!
posted by SyraCarol at 3:32 PM on April 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have them perform by reading parts of a poem together - I like using Where the Wild things Are and having the performers wear masks (it makes them feel more comfortable, it seems).

I have them create a poem using "story stones". (I don't buy them, I make them). With older kids I have words instead of pictures on the stones. They like the feel of the stones, especially the kinetic learners.

I try to have a group recitation of a short poem (jabberwocky being a personal favourite) so they will always have a poem to recite to themselves.
posted by saucysault at 5:32 PM on April 10, 2014

Ideally, you want them to change activities every 10-15 minutes - anything where you have them working individually/silently needs to be followed by working collaboratively/loudly. Stuff like:

--hand out random words printed on strips of paper and have them write a poem that has all the words in it
--give half the kids an interesting noun and the other half interesting verbs and have them pair randomly and write a poem about that noun/verb
--act out a poem or recite together and focus on the way the way you say words changes the meaning (When I WALKED down the road vs. When I walked down THE road)

Also, found poems are really fun - you have them go for a walk and write down what they see, then choose something to focus on and write a poem about it.
posted by guster4lovers at 8:08 PM on April 10, 2014

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