Some kids love poetry. Their eyes light up when they get the chance to compose their own verses. But for others, poems are met with groans and grumbles. That’s where these fun poetry games and activities come in. Kids will be surprised at how accessible and meaningful poetry can be, no matter their age or interests.
Before you start, check out our favorite poems for sharing with elementary students and middle and high school students! A lot of these activities can be adapted to work across a wide range of ages and skill levels, depending on the poems you choose.
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1. Build a Humpty Dumpty wall.
For most of us, nursery rhymes were the first poems we read, and they’re the perfect place to start with poetry games. Write words on building blocks (try this set of Giant Cardboard Blocks from Amazon), then stack them up to build a wall. Kids will get a kick out of knocking the wall down and then building it up again!
Learn more: Toddler Approved
2. Try paper bag poetry.
Introduce poetry to little ones with a paper bag filled with several items of different sizes, shapes, textures, etc. Kids reach into the bag without looking and describe what they feel in a few words. These words make their first poem.
Learn more: Bulldog Readers and Bobcats Blog
3. Go on a poetry speed date.
This is a cool way to introduce older readers to a poetry unit. Gather up all the poetry books you can find, and invite students to bring their favorites too. Students spend the class period “speed dating” the books—they simply browse and skim, looking for poems and authors that catch their eye. Encourage them to make notes of their favorites for further reading.
Teaching online right now? This activity can be adapted by providing students with a list of links to different poets and their work.
Learn more: Nouvelle ELA
4. Read poetry in different ways.
Poetry is all about the reader’s (or listener’s) experience. Experiment with that idea by having kids read poems out loud in a variety of ways. How does it change the experience when you read a sad poem in a silly voice or a funny poem in a scared voice?
Learn more: The Classroom Nook
5. Create colorful paint chip poetry.
This is easily one of the most popular poetry games, and for good reason. Colors are so easy to relate to, and evoke lots of feelings and memories. Paint chip poetry works for every age group, too, and makes for a neat classroom display.
Learn more: Fabulous in Fifth
6. Expand on paint chip poetry.
Feeling a little guilty about furtively stuffing paint chips in your pocket at the store? These printable paint chip poetry games are here to help. They include multiple ways to use paint chips for poetic inspiration too!
Learn more: Building Book Love
7. Have a”Hey, Diddle, Diddle” puppet show.
Nursery rhyme poems were just made to be acted out! Create stick puppets for “Hey Diddle, Diddle” using the instructions at the link, then expand to your other favorite rhymes to assemble a whole puppet show.
Learn more: All Kids Network
8. Compose acrostics.
Acrostics are simple enough for beginning poets, but even Edgar Allan Poe used this style to create beautiful works. Writing one is almost like putting together a puzzle!
Learn more: My Poetic Side
9. Match up DIY rhyming dominoes.
Rhyming poetry games are a lot of fun, and this one starts with some DIY dominoes made from sentence strips. This is a clever way to help kids find rhymes for writing their own poems.
Learn more: No Time for Flashcards
10. Scoop up some ice cream poetry.
Jack Prelutsky’s “ Bleezer’s Ice Cream” is a kid’s poetry classic, and sure to spark your students’ imaginations. Have them write and illustrate their own ice cream poems, with a focus on alliteration and other literary devices.
Learn more: Creative Curriculum
11. Give haiku a hand.
Haiku poems with their standard 5-7-5 syllable structure are fun to write. And let’s face it, most of us count the syllables on our fingers when we do! So this haiku helping hand is a perfect tool for kids. Have kids trace their own hand and write a haiku on it, too.
Source: The Techie Teacher
12. Fetch a doggie haiku.
Once you start with haikus, there’s just so much you can do! Elementary kids will love hearing the story of Doug, a dog looking for his forever home, in Dogku by Andrew Clements. As you might guess, the tale is told entirely in haikus. After you read the book, have kids create and illustrate their own “Dogku” poems.
Learn more: Teaching Fourth
13. Roll the haiku dice.
These are so cool! Haikubes are perfect for all sorts of poetry games. Roll the cubes and create a haiku, or draw a handful from a bag and use them to make your poem. You can use these for other poetry activities too.
Buy it: Haikubes on Amazon
14. Craft 3-D tunnel haiku books.
Haikus are fun to write, but a 3-D tunnel haiku book is next-level awesome. This project looks harder than it is; all you really need are index cards, basic school supplies, and a lot of creativity.
Learn more: Teach Kids Art
15. Be a copycat.
We’re normally opposed to copying in the classroom, but for this activity it’s a-okay! Kids write poems that mimic one they’ve been reading in class. This helps open their minds to the creativity they need to write their own unique verses later on down the line.
Learn more: One Sharp Bunch
16. Draw a concrete poem.
Concrete poems are art and poetry rolled into one! Kids write a poem on any subject they like, then craft it into a shape reflecting their topic. Tip: Use a light board to allow kids to trace shapes if they find drawing a bit too challenging.
Learn more: The Room Mom
17. Play Poetry Bingo.
Is there anything Bingo can’t do? Turns out it even works for poetry games! Get free printable sheets to use for this Poetry Bingo game that reviews literary devices and vocabulary terms.
Learn more: Teaching With Jennifer Findlay
18. Keep a poem in your pocket.
There are lots of poem-in-your-pocket activities out there, but we love this one for its sheer creativity! During independent reading time, kids explore and find their favorite poem to share with classmates. After they share, they tuck them in a pocket on this spectacular hallway bulletin board for others to find and read.
If you’re teaching online, you can recreate this “poem in your pocket” bulletin board using an online platform such as Padlet.
Learn more: Pleasures from the Page
19. Design your own poetry dice.
Learn about clauses when you make a set of dice to use for poetry games. Grab this set of Dry Erase Blocks from Amazon and write dependent clauses on one and independent clauses on the other. Roll the dice and enjoy the verses you create!
Learn more: Education.com
20. Learn limericks with a rhyming word bank.
Kids love limericks—and really, who doesn’t? Their biggest challenge is usually coming up with the rhymes they need. This cool poetry activity creates a bank of rhyming words students can pull from as they craft their own lovable limericks to share.
Learn more: STEAMsational
21. Color in blackout poetry.
Blackout poems are a unique way of looking at the written word. This activity is easily differentiated for students from elementary through high school, and the results are often stunning.
Learn more: Just Add Students
22. Post some pushpin poetry.
Remember when poetry magnets were all the rage? You can still buy them (find them here on Amazon), but you can also just create your own from paper scraps and push pins. This is a low-cost way to open the door to so many poetry games and activities.
Learn more: Residence Life Crafts
23. Make magnetic poetry online.
Speaking of poetry magnets, did you know you can play with them online? Really! This clever site gives you new words every time, so there are always fresh new ideas to explore.
Learn more: Magnetic Poetry Online
24. Say it with sticky notes.
We love using sticky notes in the classroom, and they’re fantastic for poetry games. Have kids write a selection of words of their choice and stick them to the wall or whiteboard. Then let each student select words to use for their own verses.
Learn more: Playfull Learning
25. Prove that opposites attract.
Even polar opposites can share similarities. For this poetry activity, students choose two opposite subjects, like the ocean and desert shown here. The middle line of the poem highlights the one similarity between the pair and acts as a transition (in this case: sand). Illustrations help tell the story.
Learn more: Joy in the Journey
26. Find poetry everywhere.
Found poetry is likely to become one of your students’ favorite poetry games. Give them a stack of magazines, newspapers, or books to look through, along with a pair of scissors. Have them cut out words and phrases they like and then arrange them into a brand-new poetic masterpiece!
Learn more: There’s Just One Mommy
27. Start with simple cinquains.
Cinquains are five-line poems with a specific structure. There are a variety of styles, but this poetry activity walks kids through the creation of a simple cinquain on any topic they like. This is a neat way to work on “-ing” words (also known as gerunds). Bonus: This free printable Character Cinquains worksheet can be used with any book or story.
Learn more: Teaching With Terhune
28. Learn metaphors and similes.
Similes and metaphors are two of the most common literary devices found in poems. Help kids learn to tell the difference with this free printable game.
Learn more: The Classroom Nook
29. Take inspiration from metaphor dice.
The right metaphor is the gateway to a unique and meaningful poem. Roll these dice to find a metaphor that will inspire and challenge your young poets.
Buy it: Metaphor Dice on Amazon
30. Host a poetry slam.
Round off your poetry unit with a poetry slam! These events are a combination of recitations and poetry games, like freestyle rhyme battles. This is the ultimate event for poetry lovers of any age.
Psst … you don’t need to be in person to host a poetry slam! This would be a fun activity to try using Zoom or another online communication platform.
Learn more: How to Host a Poetry Slam
Looking for more poetry to use in the classroom? Check out our list of the Best Poetry Books for Kids in Grades K-12.