24 Genius Writing Poetry Exercises to Boost Your Students’ Creativity

Not every student is creative or a writer.  We’ve all had students who loath writing.  I have found that students who hate writing hate it for two reasons; first, it’s hard work to write and second, they think they are bad at it. The sad part is often both are true.  Writing is hard work and often our students are bad at it because they don’t want to practice or put in the effort. 

But writing is like reading in a way.  Kids who hate reading haven’t found the right book yet.  Kids who hate writing haven’t found their style and voice yet.  Writing poetry exercises are a great way for students to find their style and voice, even if poetry isn’t their thing.

The Best Writing Poetry Exercises Can Help Any Student Like Writing

When I first started teaching in public schools I was a paraprofessional  I worked with a student who had sensory processing disorder.  He got so distracted by anything high interest that he couldn’t focus on his work. Let’s just say that writing was not on his list of high-interest activities.  But as fourth grade progressed he started to like writing poetry.  He wrote amazing poems and was able to focus long enough to finish the assignment.  


Why You Should Bring Writing Poetry Exercises into Your Classroom.

The truth of the matter is that the Common Core State Standards are focused on college and career readiness, which is important.  It’s hard for students to be successful writers if they hate writing, don’t find their voice, and are only writing academically.  It might help them in the short term, but not in the long term.   

If you’re lucky your state has added to your state standards.  Massachusetts has specified writing poetry as part of the standards. 

By introducing poetry and writing poetry exercises to your students you could help change their opinion of writing.  Imagine a room of students excited to write rather than groaning.

How Do Writing Poetry Exercises Work?

Are you ready for this sports metaphor?  Poetry writing exercises are a sport’s practice.  Students will work on different drills that challenge them and help them learn a skill.  It’s similar to how athletes practice big moments they might face in a game.  The coach breaks down the moment into manageable pieces and the athlete practices with repetition to prepare mentally and physically.  There is no final score or winners and losers.

Are you ready for this sports metaphor?  Poetry writing exercises are a sport’s practice.  Students will work on different drills that challenge them and help them learn a skill.  It’s similar to how athletes practice big moments they might face in a game.  The coach breaks down the moment into manageable pieces and the athlete practices with repetition to prepare mentally and physically.  There is no final score or winners and losers.

That’s exactly how writing poetry exercises work too.  Students will practice specific writing skills.  Sometimes those skills focus on poetry alone, but often the skills overlap with what they need for other genres.  There is no big grade they are working towards, like when they have been working on the same narrative for weeks.  I would grade generously on these writing activities if students are completing them and putting in their best effort.  The goal is growth, not a finished written work.

Best Blogs For More Writing Poetry Exercises

What are Assonance and Consonance? | Definition & Examples

Rhyming Dominoes and Speedracer Gamer – Learning After School

These Poetry Exercises Will Help Your Poetry Flow

24 Genius Writing Poetry Exercises that Will Teach How to Write a Poem for Beginners

These 11 writing poetry exercises are broken into categories to help you plan your writing block with ease.  You can easily decide if you want something fun, collaborative, language or writing skill-based, or extra challenging.  When you see one you love bookmark this page you so can go back to it anytime.

These exercises are great for beginners or those who already love writing poetry.  But the truth is most of our students are beginners.  Let’s get those writing reps in so they are stronger and ready for the big game…err, writing assignment.

The Best Fun Poetry Exercises 

1. Birth Year Poem

Have your students research some of the major events from the year they were born.  After they have a good list of events, they should pick their favorite.  It can be their favorite because it matches their personality or because they just found it amazing.  They are going to write from the perspective of someone at the event. They can be an observer or participant of the event if they want to get creative.  If your students are more literal, they might write about how the event has influenced their life. 

2. Blackout Poetry

Blackout Poetry is trending and there is a good reason for it.  Blackout poetry is fun and accessible to everyone.  Give your students a block of written text.  It can be text from anywhere like the book the class is reading, a news article, directions for a toy, or food packaging.  From there, students will circle or underline the words or phrases that they like or think are interesting.  When they are finished they just blackout with a sharpie or erase with whiteout any text they didn’t choose.  After they are finished they will see what they planned to keep.  If you have your students do this activity several times they can start to try to create a poem that makes sense. But for beginners, it’s about experimenting with interesting words and phrases.

3. Play Pretend

Your students might claim they are too old to play pretend, but pretending is a great writing strategy.  Have your students pick a person that they will pretend to be.  They are going to write a poem about life from that person’s perspective.  Imagine your students want to write about getting coffee or a donut.  It’s so simple, but then you add to it that they are going to write from the perspective of a celebrity like Rhianna, Jennifer Aniston, The Rock.  Or maybe you have your students write about someone who lives in another country or a historical figure.    They may even have to do a little research.

4. Every Line Begins With the Same Word

When students plan to have every line begin with the same word it creates a rhythm to the poem.  They don’t have to keep it that, but they might end up loving it.  There is one poem I have my students write every year, as part of my culturally responsive teaching unit, that I love.   In the unit, students explore their uniqueness, family tree, and ethnic identity.  Their last assignment brings it all together in their I Am Poem.  Every line starts with “I am.”

5. Finger on a word

This is a great exercise because you can combine it with many of the others too.  Have students take out the book they are currently reading.  They should close their eyes then flip to a page and put their finger on a word.  That word is the title of their new poem.  You can provide them with a specific form of poetry if you want or let them write free verse.  Don’t forget you can combine it with other exercises like maybe every line starts with that word too.  

6. Long lines

I have many students who want to avoid writing at all costs.  And when they do write they keep it short.  And when they write poetry it’s even shorter.  Let your students write a poem that is free verse and relaxed, but requires longer lines.  Maybe you say every line should have at least 20 words or 15 syllables.  The goal isn’t that this poem is groundbreaking, but that they are challenged to write differently.

Collaborative Poetry Exercises Will Make Group Work Easy to Plan 

1. Write a Poem That has a Refrain

Do you remember what a refrain is?  It’s the repeating part of the poem or song.  I know my son’s rhyming books often have a short refrain, but somewhere along the way as writers we stop using them.  Your students could do this individually, but I think it would be a great challenge for them to write a refrain together and then write individual verses that are connected through the refrain.

2. Rhyming Dominos

I just learned about this game and I thought it was genius.  Dominos is a game I played a lot with my Nana.  She loved dominos and rummy.  In dominos, you match the same numbers together, but in rhyming dominos, you match words that rhyme.  I love building rhyming lists when I write poetry, but I thought this rhyming game put a fun twist on the exercise.  Here’s the link to the full article.

3. Observations

This is a bit of a classic, but have your students observe the world.  You can do this individually or just bring the whole class outside.   But to add an interesting twist to it put them in trustworthy partners and send them to different parts of the school.  You might even be able to plan to have a few kids observe another class.  When students are writing an observational poem it’s helpful to have them focus on their senses.  Whatever they observe have them account for every sense so they have enough notes to work with.

4. Flashcards Poetry

I’m sure there are many versions of flashcard poetry around.  But here is a simple one.  Again your students can do this in groups or by themselves.  Either give your students a topic or have them pick one.  Give your students 10 flashcards (or more or less).  On each flashcard, your students should write one line or sentence about their topic. This will allow students to rearrange their lines easily.  They can learn how rearranging their sentences can impact their poem without erasing like crazy.

5. Taboo

I love the game taboo.  Have you played?   It’s also a great game for alliteration because it gets your students thinking about words that begin with the same letter.  It’s an easy way to get your students practicing alliteration and it’s also easy to make a free teacher version if you don’t have it already.

Writing and Language Skills Writing Poetry Exercises

1. Metaphor List

A metaphor is when you compare two unlike things by saying one is the other.

There are two ways you can have your students create a metaphor list.  First, they can observe the world around them and write metaphors.  They don’t have to be brilliant or make complete sense either.  They just have to try to create something interesting.

The second way is to write three lists: adjectives, concrete nouns, and abstract nouns.  Then your students will combine the three to write a metaphor.

2. Alliteration List

Alliterations are when several words together in a sentence, or almost together, start with the same letter or letter sounds.

Give your students a topic and have them write alliteration phrases.  It can be a challenge and they don’t have to make sense.  But it will get your student to practice this literary device.

3. Assonance/Consonance Lists

Some people don’t believe in assonance and consonance.  However, I plan on teaching my students anything that is going to get them to think about their writing and word choice more.  These lists are more challenging and I debated whether I should put them here or in the challenging section. 

Assonance is when a vowel sound repeats in a few words.  The words don’t have to be adjacent, but fairly close together in the sentence.  They also don’t need to be part of rhyming lines.  The sound can occur anywhere in the world.

Consonance is pretty much the same, but with constant sounds.  Consonance can occur in just a few words and anywhere within the word. 

These two overlap a bit with alliteration and rhyme too.  Do you see why I said it was tricky?  Because it is so complicated here is the full article to help you better understand it.

4. Synonyms

Give all your students different words and have them write a list of synonyms.  Once they have written all the words they can think of let them use a thesaurus.  They will practice using a thesaurus and expand their vocabulary.  If you do this exercise regularly throughout the year you can make the words harder each time.

5. Rhyming Dominos

This is an amazing group game, but since it is also a language and writing skill I wanted to be sure you didn’t overlook it.  Look above for the full explanation and link.

6.   Simile List

Similes compare two things using like or as.  Have your students build a funny list of similies.  You can have them share them in interesting ways or vote on their favorites. 

Challenging Writing Poetry Exercises

1. Free Write

I think free writing is one of the hardest exercises.  It’s so much easier to write when you have guidelines, a given poetry form, or a required topic.  Being given the freedom to write is a big challenge, especially for students.

2. 20 Things You Did Today

Have your students write out a list of 20 things they did today or yesterday.  It can be boring things like brushing teeth.  Then have your students pick one thing to use as the topic of their poem.   They are really going to have to think about this thing I detail in order to write a poem about it.

3. Look at a Finished Poem

Look back at a poem your students wrote earlier this year.  Then have them remove some words.  This should make their poem more mysterious.  It will leave the reader guessing about the poem.

4. Same Topic, Different Form

Have your students write about the same topic, but explore different forms of poetry.  So maybe they are writing about winter in all of their poems.  They will write a haiku, an ode, and an acrostic all about winter.  Writing about the same topic, but in different forms will help them grow as writers.

5. Use Rhythm From a Song

Have your students pick a favorite or familiar song that is school-appropriate.  Or even pick one song for the whole class.  Then talk about the rhyme of the song. Rhythm is the pace and tempo.  Some students will understand this immediately, and others will struggle.  Then have your students write a poem using this rhythm.  The topics do not have to be similar, just the rhythm.

6. Writing Using Words That Make You Laugh

This will help your students to appreciate the language more.  This is a more challenging exercise.  I would plan to do this later in the school year.  You know those words that are fun to say?  The ones that sound funny or are just interesting?   I would keep a running list in class.  When your class discussions elevate one of these words write it on the board. Later in the school year when you have a good list have your students write a poem with these words in it. 

Of course, your students can do this any time of the year on their own, but I think most of my students would struggle with this challenging activity, so I think this format will make it more accessible to everyone.

7. Recycle 

Pull out some old writing or poems.  Have your students look at their growth as a writer or find one moment in your writing that you like and write a new piece based on that.

Writing Poetry Exercises

I love these exercises that will help your students become better poets and writers.  I think these poetry activities help students develop writing skills without a huge writing project in front of them.  It is truly the practice before the big game.

I wanted to leave you with a few poetry-writing topics too.  These are easy to set up with your students, but I felt like they were more of a topic than an exercise.

Write a poem about:

1. Songs

2. Art (ekphrasis is the fancy word for writing poems about art)

3. Animals

4. Food

5. Color

6. Good-byes

7. Frustrations

8. Firsts

9. Sensory

More Poetry and Writing Articles.

What are the Best Rules to Writing Poetry that Teachers Need to Know?

Teachers’ Easy Guide on How to Teach Poems

5 Incredible Benefits of Teaching Poetry and Writing

Here is Your FREE Prompt for Writing Poetry

I know that you needed a prompt to help kickstart your students’ writing.  Here is an entire lesson for FREE.  My Our School Poem guides students through using sensory language to describe their school. The step-by-step directions guide your class through the writing process with all the necessary worksheets make this the perfect lesson for your classroom.

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