21st March is World Poetry Day. It is a celebration of poetry for everyone, everywhere. It's a day to promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry and to connect it with the other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting. It is a chance to use poetry to say things that can’t be said in prose.
How can we use poetry in the EFL classroom and have fun with our students on this day? Here are some ideas:
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- An easy way to start is by reading and writing haikus. They are short, easy to write and memorise and can be used with students of any age and level. They are made of three lines with five, seven, five syllables respectively and their themes are usually inspired by nature. For ideas on how to write haikus on paper or online you can visit an older post here.
- I am poems: students can talk about themselves and express the way they feel, what they hope, think, dream, enjoy and so on. The lines in each poem begin the same way: I am, I wonder, I feel, I hear and so forth. Some sentences in the poem describe imaginary sights, sounds and experiences. Other sentences express actual, literal feelings. The first line in the poem – the “I Am” line – is repeated at the end of each stanza. Here you can find a ready made lesson on how to write an 'I am poem'.
- Concrete or Visual poems: where the poem is arranged in a way that illustrates its theme; if it talks about the moon the words are arranged in the shape of the moon and so on. Concrete poetry can be playful and creative without having to be complicated or comforming to rules. More information on how to write a visual poem here.
- Bio-Poems are what their name suggests: biography poems. They can either be used to describe the life of a famous person for example a historigal figure or a character in a book (a great way to revise) or to describe ourselves. Follow the link to find out how to write bio poems.
- Write an Ode to something ordinary. Danielle Mahoney in Scholastic gives simple instructions on how to explore poetry and write an ode - a poem that celebrates and glorifies an event or something extraordinary - to the ordinary, like a pizza or blueberries! A fun activity for children or young teens!
Finally if you have no time for any of this you can always watch Dead Poets Society. The film is rich in poetry and lyricism and is ideal for the day. For a full list of the poems used in the film as well as worksheets to use with it visit my post about it.
Happy World Poetry Day!