September 26, 2022

Tips For Poetry Journals In The Classroom

Ever wanted some fresh new creative ideas of how to use Poetry Journals in your classroom? I remember when I first started teaching how I used to settle for just picking a poem at random, reading it to the class and then having students illustrate the poem inside their Poetry Journal. A common average poetry journal activity. Okay, if I am honest with myself maybe a little boring and undeniably tailored largely to lower level learning. At least, I justified to myself, my students were exposed to poetry. And to this day I would have continued on using that old method if I hadn’t discovered four nifty tricks that I found for me and my students that took poetry journals to the next level. That is, fun poetry journal activities optimized for student learning. Let me share with you these four tricks.

Why Use Poetry Journals In The Classroom

It’s best to start by reminding ourselves of some of the great things that poetry teaches children such as storytelling and sequencing of events. It also provides a great platform for students to work with letters, sounds and sight words to teach reading skills. Poetry builds language skills as students hear and feel the rhythms and beats in the poems and songs.

So now, how did I take poetry journals from plain Jane boring to a leveraged learning activity that allows me to teach multiple skill sets in my curriculum at the same time?

First I integrated music and poetry. Yes music. Anxiety rising? Feel like maybe you’ re not a singer or perhaps musically challenged particularly as a conductor? Not a problem. I’ve got you covered. Read on.

Trick #1: Poems and Music

Why? Because children LOVE to sing and move. So do I. Poems and music complement one another beautifully. Poems have a natural rhythm so does music. Poems set to music lead to movement and suddenly all the kinesthetic learners in your classroom have something that connects to them. Words of a poem that were once to the kinesthetic learners just mundane letters on a page are now leaping forth. Students can do motions, sing or even dance to the poem set to music. I can’t understate how much this helps students learn the theme or concept you are teaching. Still not quite sure how to marry poems and music together? Try this FREE sample (music, video, and activities):

FREE Poem, Song, Video with Activities – Leaf Pile.

Trick #2: Relate Academics To The Poetry Journals

I have my children pick out letters and sight words from the poem. The students respond to writing prompts and label pictures that go with the poem. I also love to have students retell the poem. Retelling a story or poem is an important skill for preschool, kindergarten and first grade children. Using poetry journals in the classroom allows for more in-depth learning opportunities to take place.

Trick #3: Add Poetry Journal Activities To Centers

I teach the activities in a whole group setting and then once my children are comfortable completing each activity, I add the poetry journal activities to the centers. There are two ways you can use these worksheets during centers: Use them as a center choice or rotation activity OR use them as a “Must Do” activity before they go off to centers. I have poetry journal activities for each day of the week. They are repetitive, which helps the children become independent during centers. They have a different activity to do each day.

  • Monday – Hunt for a specific letter in the poem
  • Tuesday – Hunt for a specific sight word in the poem
  • Wednesday – Label the beginning sound or word from the pictures in the poem
  • Thursday – Write a sentence answering a question about the poem
  • Friday – Retell the poem using a cut and paste worksheet

If you need ideas on how to set up routines for Centers take a look at this post:

Centers Need Routines

Many of these activities can also be completed in a whole group setting. Each day the children can do one of the activities after singing the song as part of your morning routine. Below are a few examples of the poem activities:

An example of a Letter Hunt page for poem Leaf Pile for Poetry Journals
Letter Hunt For Poetry Journals
Example of a Label the Picture page from the poem Leaf Pile for Poetry Journals
Picture Labeling For Poetry Journals
Example of Order the Poem page for the poem Leaf Pile for Poetry Journals
Retelling Page For Poetry Journals

Trick #4: Incorporate Poems For Your Poetry Journal Into Your Instructional Calendar

Over the summer I make an Instructional Calendar using different poems that fit each of my weekly themes. If you do a monthly theme you can still choose a different poem for each week. Here is an example of a weekly poem that I hang up in the classroom.

Remember: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater — still let your students illustrate the poem but also use the four tricks.

On Fridays I like to have the children glue the poem into their journal (or add the poem to a notebook) and illustrate it. This is a fun end of the week routine that the children look forward to doing.

Want to have your children engaged in learning and benefit from a full year of poems, songs, videos and activities as you use poetry journals in the classroom? This resource will give you some ready made songs, poems, and activities that will save you a ton of time. Click on the picture below: