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Found Poetry Activity

January 16, 2017 3 min read

If you haven’t heard of found poetry before, it is essentially what it sounds like! Students cut out words and phrases that they find and create a poem out of them! It’s an extremely easy and exciting way to begin a unit – students are engaged right from the get-go.

In this post, we’ll walk you through exactly how found poetry works and the materials you will need to make it happen.

Materials Needed:
  • You’ll need anywhere from 15-30 magazines (depending on how many students you have and if you don’t mind them sharing). We receive anywhere from 4-5 magazines a month, so we save them throughout the year. (We also make sure to go through each magazine omitting any inappropriate material and crossing off our home addresses.)
  • Glue sticks and scissors (however many you think your students might need depending on whether or not they can share)
  • Blank computer paper to glue their found poems to
Step One:
Before we even begin, we do not tell students precisely what we are doing (we’ve found that telling them that we are writing a poem stifles their creativity). We simply ask them to cut out about 40-50 words and phrases from magazines that are of interest to them. They can be anything of their choice – maybe they like the color or the font, or they find a phrase that “speaks” to them – it doesn’t matter. We also let students know that they will need articles and conjunctions to help make this project “work.” This activity is meant to be creative, so we really allow students a great deal of independence.
Allow students about 45-60 minutes for this portion of the activity. (Note: We like to put on some relaxing music during this time to hopefully inspire more creativity in the kiddos.)
 
Step Two:
Once students have “found” their words and phrases, we now tell them that we are writing a poem using JUST what they have found. They cannot add anything else to their poem; they may only use what they have cut out. It’s meant to be fun and challenging!
Have students arrange the words on their blank piece of paper. Students are not required to use all of the words that they have cut out, but we do request that our students use at least 30 words in their poems (otherwise, you might get poems that are only two words!).
We allow another 45 minutes or so for this step of the activity.
Arranging words and phrases to create the perfect found poem. Notice the brownie on the desk? We made them these as a little treat while they were working on this activity 🙂
You can see their brains working as they begin to arrange phrases and thoughts on their computer paper. We just love it!
Step Three: 
Once students have decided that they like the way their poem looks and sounds, they glue their words and phrases to the computer paper to create a final product! It is extremely interesting and darling to see what they come up with. You’ll find yourself quite impressed by some of your students at the end of this project!
And this was written by one of my quietest and most darling students. He, yes he, wrote about the “Sixteen trillion dollar woman.”

You’re not worthless.
Drift into love
Have an espresso
No problem
It’s your reward
You are the sixteen trillion dollar woman.

And that is precisely why we love teaching and why we love teaching poetry.
What are some of your favorite poetry activities? We’d love to hear about them!
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