Playing with words: poetry projects for kids

The following is by contributor Amy Anderson of Let”s Explore.

Happy National Poetry Month! From rhyming lines to haiku to free verse, I love sharing poetry with my daughters. We think of poems as paintings made with words, and they are a wonderful way for kids to use their boundless imaginations.

While we love reading poetry, writing our own poems is one of our favorite ways to play and create with words. We try all different kinds of poetry forms, and for the most part, I take dictation at the computer while they compose their poetic masterpieces.

There is something satisfying about putting a few simple words together and creating an amazing poem. Have fun capturing a bit of your child”s creative thinking with two of our favorite poetry activities:

Random Word Poem

random word poem for kids
Photo by Amy Anderson

This is a free-form poem that encourages kids (and grown-ups, too) to play with words and be silly. My girls love doing this kind of poem on a regular basis, so we are always adding new and interesting word cards to our stash.

First, you will need to create your word cards. I cut index cards into small pieces and play the job of secretary. Everyone shares interesting, funny, unusual, or favorite words to write on the cards. We try to get a good mix of things, colors, sounds, places, names, and animals. You”ll want at least 20 words per poet.

Once you have a stack of words, toss them all into a hat or bag. Decide how many words you will use for your poem – we used 15 words. Pass the hat around, choosing one word at a time until you have enough.

Now it”s playtime! Move your words around into phrases and lines. We kept our lines short, with one to four words each. My girls love creating the craziest phrases possible, like spaghetti tulips or gardening pig reading rain.

random word poem for kids
Photo by Amy Anderson

When you are happy with your poems, take turns reading them aloud. Sometimes we add exclamation points or question marks for fun, too. If you want to save your poem, glue your words down to paper and illustrate. Words are fun!

When It Rains: A Weather Poem

weather poem for kids
Photo by Amy Anderson

Weather is a wonderful sensory experience that most kids have a lot to say about. This poetry activity uses a simple structure, where each line begins the same. It happened to be pouring down rain when we wrote ours, so our lines begin When it rains… You could easily write a poem with the starter When the sun shines… or When the wind blows…

To get the thoughts flowing, you can ask your child questions, such as:

  • What do you see/hear/feel/taste/smell when it rains?
  • What does the rain remind you of?
  • How do you feel when it rains?
  • What do you like to do when it rains?

Write as few or as many lines as you like – no rules!

We chose to publish our poems by typing and printing them out. The girls then decorated a piece of tracing paper with a rainy scene to create an overlay for their poems. So pretty!

rain poem and art for kids
Photo by Amy Anderson

For more poetry fun:

Carry a poem in your pocket for National Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 26.

Explore poet Jack Prelutksy”s super-fun website.

Read and write poems at from PBS Kids.

List poems are the perfect first poem to write with preschoolers.

Follow my Poetry for Kids Pinterest board for a growing collection of poetry activities to try with your kids.

Do you enjoy poetry or does it intimidate you? Have a favorite poetry book for kids to share?

About AmyA

At her blog, Let’s Explore, Amy shares her family’s experiences creating, imagining, and playing together. You can read about her homeschooling journey at Early Bird Homeschool.

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  1. I love the random word poems. How fun!
    Steph´s latest post: Raising Sexually Healthy Preschoolers

  2. Alyson Ford says:

    The technique of creating word cards to compose a random word poetry is a great way to improve our children’s’ word building skills. I am glad that your kids shows huge interests on poetry. On the other side, if a child doesn’t show interest on this kind of literary piece, how do move to encourage him/her? Thanks for sharing such a nice activity!

    Alyson Ford´s latest post: How To Pick Up Girls

  3. love this, Amy! Have you ever used words and phrases from magazines? It’s also really interesting to see the colors and fonts make their own beauty along with the beauty of the words.
    Melissa @imaginationsoup´s latest post: Becoming a Freelance Writer, Part II

  4. We love the word scramble one here! Poetry is a big thing in our house, in part because I was a poet before I had kids. Well, I suppose I’m still a poet, but I used to publish my writing and do readings and such. Now I just scribble in the middle of the night on occasion. 🙂

    Here’s a free 10-week poetry course for kids that I wrote up. There are lots of creative writing assignments for each week, plus focus on great poets and what makes good poetry.

    Happy Poetry Month!

    Alicia´s latest post: Today’s Assignment

  5. What fun! I am not great with poetry, so this is something I am going to have to work on to make sure my kids get experience with it. What a great idea!
    Johanna´s latest post: How Limiting Toys Helps Your Kids

  6. Shel Silverstein also has a great website, with some animated poems and activities to do

  7. Catherine says:

    I am going to try doing this with the Alzheimer Residents I work with. Choosing words relating to the era “they are living in” will be both challenging and rewarding.

  8. Great ideas! My son loves playing with words (and things like MadLibs) and I can see how this would really inspire him, especially by creating different word sets and putting them together.
    Kimberly´s latest post: The Sleep Training Selfishishness Checklist

  9. I bet this does allow for more freedom in creating poems. We’re reading from childrens poetry books each evening this month and I think I will add this project to our list. Thanks for sharing!
    Kelly at Little Wonders’ Days´s latest post: Dreaming of a Summer Bucket List Party 2012!

  10. sumit gupta says:

    shape poem about a butterfly using pretty, patterns, colours, gently, flying, nectar, happily, flowers, flutter

  11. I love this idea! Will be so fun to play this with my kindergartener who is just learning to read…and loves poetry. Thanks for sharing.


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    Playing with words – poetry projects for kids | Simple Kids