7 Ways to Celebrate Poetry Month Outdoors With Your Students

Cover Image- Celebrate Poetry Month Outdoors/ A group of kids laying on the ground studying a book.

April is Poetry Month! Until recently, I didn’t even know that there was such a thing as “Poetry Month.” However now that I know I am excited to celebrate. And what better way to celebrate Poetry Month as well as the arrival of spring, than to take poetry outdoors? In this post you will find 7 ways to celebrate Poetry Month outside with your students.

Poetry is an amazing way for kids to have fun playing with language. Through poetry kids can be creative and use words in new and playful ways. Additionally, in writing a poem, students need to be precise and specific with their word choice. They need to be able to concisely convey an image or idea in a very small space. Additionally, poetry allows students to learn about parts of speech, such as adjectives, nouns, and verbs in a fun and meaningful way (with no grammar worksheets!)

By taking poetry outside, students are not only benefitting from building their language skills, but they are also experiencing the many benefits that come with learning outdoors. In this article, you will find some fun and slightly “outside of the box” ways to take poetry outdoors as well as some creative ways for you to share your student’s amazing work with the world.

A book of poetry laying in a field outdoors.

Why Take Poetry Outdoors…​

You might be wondering, “Why Nature Poetry?” Nature provides inspiration for our students but also helps them to grow and develop in a more holistic way.

Nature Poetry Allows Students to Connect with Nature ​

Writing nature poetry requires your students to spend time observing their desired subjects in nature. Additionally, students can bring their own understandings and feelings inspired by nature to their poetry in a way that non-fiction writing does not allow for. This time spent in observation and planning allows students to build a relationship with and connection to the topic that they choose to write about. Additionally, the concise form of some poems requires students to be careful and creative in their word choices that they use to describe the quality of their subject.

Nature Poetry Helps Students Learn Observation Skills​

Poetry requires students to carefully observe and form an understanding of the subject that they choose to write about. In order to create a full and detailed image with their poetry, students must spend time really getting to know their subject. The specific requirements of different types of form poetry also require students to really focus in on their senses and feelings. Students can then express their own understandings, discoveries, and revelations through their poetry.

Nature Poetry Provides Opportunities for Creativity and Expression​

Poems allow students to be creative and intentional with their word choice. As poetry frees students from the confines of more formal writing, students have the opportunity to be more expressive and playful in their choice of words. If students are using a specific form of poetry, such as Haiku, the number of syllables required for each line also requires students to be very specific and creative in their wording. Additionally, students may have to look for synonyms for words or be creative in how they organize their phrases.  

Poems are Short and Intentional​

For some students, the idea of writing a short story or longer essay can be daunting. Poetry allows students to express an idea in a short period of time. They can summarize their thoughts on the subject and present them in a concise and meaningful way without having to write multiple pages of work. The precise format of some poems, such as biography poems, also helps to alleviate some of the writer’s block that many students experience. 

A boy writing in a book sitting by a tree outdoors.

Ways to Celebrate Poetry Month Outdoors

Poetry is an amazing way to help students build a relationship with nature but also build their language and writing skills. Here are some fun ways to celebrate poetry month outdoors this April!

Animal Shape Poems

For many kids, the key to their heart and nature connection is animals. Even the most wiggly student will still their body for long enough to observe animals. This is why animals are a great way to engage students in writing poetry and developing their descriptive writing skills in a fun and creative way. Writing shape poems about animals that you might find in the learning space or each student’s favorite animal allows you to leverage this connection.

A Shape Poem is a poem written in the shape of the object/subject the poem is describing (or something that represents that subject.) In the case of an animal, the poem could be in written in the shape of the animal it is about, or in the shape of something that represents that animal. For example, a poem about a hawk might involve the words of the poem forming the silhouette of a hawk in the air.

Different Ways to Make Shape Poems
  • For younger students:
    • provide a shape template, such as the outline of an animal or a paw/hoof print. (For very young students you may wish to provide the shape with horizontal writing lines inside to scaffold the experience for their developing fine motor skills.)
    • Have students brainstorm a list of words that describe that animal.
    • Students can then use the template to create their poem, selecting descriptive words to write following the lines of their template.
  • For older students (who are more independent in their writing and have more fine motor control):
    • Students can choose the subject of their poem. (If you wish, you may want to work on an example poem as a class before students write their own poems.)
    • Students will then create a rough draft of their poem. (You can have them follow a particular poem form or their can simply create a free-form poem.)
      • As students are writing their rough draft of their poem they can plan how they would like to shape the words of their poem.
    • Once the rough draft is completed, students can either draw the shape they would like their poem to take using light pencil or they may use a template placed under their paper to follow the shape. They then copy the words of their poem on to their shape.
    • Once the poem is completed students may choose to decorate it or add further illustrations to the poem.
a group of kids sitting on a grassy field writing poetry

Descriptive Poetry Walk

This is a great activity to integrate so many different parts of your curriculum. Through this activity, students are exploring their community, observing nature, and moving their bodies.

  1. Take your students on a walk in your community or outdoor learning space.
  2. As the students walk, have them stop every so often and describe what they are seeing. Start with a literal description and then prompt your students to build on to more interesting and nuanced adjectives.
  3. When you return from the walk, have the students share all of the things they noticed. Write these observations on chart paper or a shared document for everyone to see.
  4. Students will then choose a word from the list and begin developing descriptive phrases for their chosen word. Encourage your students to be creative in their descriptions.
  5. Once students are satisfied with the descriptive phrase they can then copy their phrases onto sentence strips. You can arrange the sentence strips to create a free-form class poem.
  6. Extension:
    • Students can create their own free-form poems using the strips others have created
    • Students can illustrate their poems or find a creative way to represent their poetry
a group of students walking outdoors

Try Out Different Poetry Styles

For ready-to-use templates check out our Poetry Kit in the Shop!

Scaffold your students as they create their own poetry through different styles of form poems. These poems allow students to create works that they are proud of while also practicing their descriptive writing skills, playing with language, and stretching their imaginations.

Different types of form poetry include 5 Senses Poems, List Poems, Diamante Poems, Cinquain Poems, Haiku, Alphabet Poems, Acrostic Poems and more. Examples of each type of poem can be found here!

Pass the Poem

Who says that poetry needs to be written down? Pass the poem is a fun way to allow students to simply play with words. This activity is an easy way to take poetry outdoors as you need an open field or clearing where kids can spread out and toss an object. You can also use this activity as a creative warm up for other writing activities.

  1. Have a ball for students to toss or an object for students to pass. Have students arrange themselves in a circle.
  2. Give the students a subject, item, or topic to begin their poem about (or students can take turns choosing a topic.)
  3. The student who has the ball/object begins first with either a word or a phrase that describes or represents the chosen topic.
  4. They then pass the ball/object to another person. This person then has the opportunity to build on with another word or phrase.
  5. Continue passing the object until students run out of ideas or the poem naturally comes to an end.
  6. Extensions:
    • Students can work in smaller groups or partners
a group of students sitting on a field with hands open to catch a ball

Interactive Poem Building

I think of this activity as a large scale interactive version of magnetic poetry. This is a fun way for students to play with language while also learning about different parts of speech (nouns, adjectives, and verbs.) Students will be moving, writing and building poems while they explore outside.

Part 1: Creating the Word Bank
  1. Take your students outside and provide them with index cards (or cards that are a similar size.)
  2. Have the students explore the outdoor space. As they explore, instruct them to first find all of the nouns they can find in their space. Each noun they think of they can write on an index card. Next have them think up verbs and write them on the cards. Finally have them think of as many adjectives as they can think of and write them on a card. (One word/card)
Part 2: Creating the Poems
  1. Have the students place their words throughout the learning space (in a way that the cards won’t blow away.)
  2. After all of the cards have been placed, the students can go word shopping. Instruct the students to collect a set of cards that they will use to create a poem. You may wish to give a minimum and maximum number of cards that each student must use.
  3. After students have found their cards they can begin assembling their poems using the cards they found.
  4. If students are unsatisified with one of their word choices they can exchange it for another in the learning space.
  5. Once all of the students have had time to build a poem, students can walk around and see what others have created.
  6. Keep the word cards so that you can try the activity again.
a group of 3 children outside in a forest looking at something on the ground

Find The Poem

This is a great way to celebrate fantastic poetry outdoors with your students and get them creatively exploring the environment. Instead of writing, students will be interpreting poems. In this activity students will read/hear a poem and find items that represent that poem for them. There is no right or wrong way to do this and you can adapt it to fit the needs of your students.

  1. Choose a poem for your students to read or for you to read to your students. (This can be a famous poem, a poem about a topic you are studying, or even a poem that a student has written.) Ensure that the poem is written at a level that your students are able to understand.
  2. After your students have read the poem and have a good understanding of it, have them begin exploring their outdoor learning space with the objective to find an item or items in nature that represent the poem for them. These can be a literal representation of a more figurative representation.
    • Students may either collect the items, take photographs of the items, or sketch them (depending on their age and abilities.)
  3. Have your students return to your meeting space and share what they choose to represent the poem and why.
  4. Extensions:
    • Students can write about the items they chose and why they chose them.
    • You can keep the poem a mystery and not tell them the title of the poem. This means that the students need to be creative in their interpretations and understanding of the poem. Reveal the title/subject of the poem once everyone is done.

Integrate Art and Poetry

The creative nature of poetry can be naturally augmented by integrating art projects or activities. The ways that this can be done are endless, however here is a list of a few ideas to get you started.

  • Illustrate a Poem: Read a nature poem (it can be either from a published source or a poem written by a student.) Have your students illustrate the poem. You may choose to have them use sketching, watercolours, photography, mixed-media, or whatever you feel your students can benefit from.
  • Illustrate Your Own Poems: After writing their poems students can illustrate the poem using whatever media they feel best suits their poem. If you are brave, you might even have your students experiment with using natural materials to illustrate their poem (such as smudging dirt, grass, or leaves.)
  • Reverse Engineer Your Poems: Have students first create a piece of nature art (it could be a guided project or an open ended project.) After the piece is completed, students can then write a poem, such as a Haiku, to describe their piece.
  • Use sketching to Build Observation Skills: Sketching helps students see something in detail. Prior to writing their poetry, you can have students practice sketching different things in their outdoor learning space.
a child painting using water colour paints

Celebrate and Share Your Poetry

Your students have been working hard on writing beautiful poems and exploring language in different ways. Now it’s time to celebrate their poetry. Here are some great ways for you to share the poems that your students have created.

Outdoor Coffee House

A Coffee House is a fun way to get families engaged and share some of the amazing work their students have created. This event takes a bit more preparation and set up as refreshments are required and you will need to arrange a classroom/space like a cafe. During the coffee house, each student would read a poem of their choosing. Refreshments would be served and families would get to hear some fantastic poetry.

Nature Poem Anthology

Another way for students to share their work is to create a class poetry anthology. You can have students choose a poem (or two) to include and the teacher or a group of students can be in charge of compiling, organizing, and “publishing” the anthology.

Personal Poetry Books

If your students have chosen several different types of poems to write, they may choose some of their favourites to compile into a book. Students could also illustrate their works, include sketches from their observations, or even include photography or personal reflections in their book.

Poetry Display

As students complete their poems you can create a “publishing board,” a wall or bulletin board where students can display their work for others to read. This is a great idea if you are doing a larger poetry unit or if students are working on multiple types of poems. You can pair your poems with recent nature-themed art projects, photography, or student reflections.

Poem Shorts

A fun way for older students to share their poetry is through the creation of short videos. Students can use an app such as Canva to create short videos to illustrate their poems in creative ways. These apps allow students to use photos, illustrations, videos, and text to give meaning to their poetry.

a group of kids laying on the ground studying a book together

Now Lets Celebrate Poetry Month by Taking Poetry Outdoors!

Spring is here, and it’s time to get outside with your students and celebrate. Taking poetry outdoors can be as simple as using some ready-to-use poem templates, or as complicated as creating your own outdoor class coffee house. Poetry allows students to play with language while they also hone their observation and descriptive skills. Through poetry your students will begin to connect with nature and find new ways to share thie connection.

If you are looking for some easy ways to get started, why not check out our Nature Poetry Kit in the store. In this poetry kit you will find templates, instructions, and examples for different types of form poetry.

Looking for More Outdoor Writing Ideas:

Get Outside With Your Students All Year…

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