30 Great Ideas for Celebrating National Poetry Month in Your Homeschool

Day 1: Laugh it up

The National Poetry Foundation’s satiric send-up of what a world with plenty of everyday poetry might look like (Rachel Maddow hosts the MSNBC special “Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays” and ESPN2’s best memorizer competition hits the big time) is hilarious.

Day 2: Listen up

Log on to the Poetry Everywhere channel, where poets like Galway Kinnell and Adrienne Rich read their favorite and original poems.

Day 3: Find the fun

Funnybone-tickling poets like Bruce Lansky and Linda Knaus, silly activities like poetry theatre, and lots of creative wordplay make gigglepoetry.com an ideal introduction to the pleasures of poetry.

Day 4: Find a new favorite poem

A few we love: “Macavity the Mystery Cat” (T.S. Eliot), “April Rain Song” (Langston Hughes), “Sick” (Shel Silverstein), “About the Teeth of Sharks” (John Ciardi), “Rabbit” (Mary Ann Hoberman), “The Adventures of Isabel” (Ogden Nash), “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” (Robert Frost), “What Is Pink?” (Christina Rossetti)

Day 5: Organize an exhibition

Put together a homeschool Poetry Out Loud competition in your town. Whether you decide to choose a winner or not, this recitation exhibition brings poetry to vivid life.

Day 6: Be inspired

Listen to three teens from the Santa Fe Indian School practice their recitations for the National Youth Poetry Slam Festival in Washington D.C.

Day 7: Make a blackout poem

All you need is  a newspaper and a Sharpie to make poetry. Scribble out words and sentences on a newspaper page, leaving uncovered carefully chosen words to make a poem. (Tip: Arts pages often have better words to choose from than a newspaper’s front page.)

Day 8: Have a poetry tea

Make a Tuesday date around the table to share your favorite poems over a traditional afternoon tea.

Day 9: Say hi to haiku

Read classic haiku and master the skills you need to write your own seventeen-syllable poems (in lines of five, seven, five) with this worskshop from the University of Colorado at Boulder's Center for Asian Studies.

Day 10: Get nerdy with it

Write a Fib, a six-line poem that uses the Fibonacci sequence to dictate the number of syllables in each line.

Day 11: Go epic

What makes a poem epic? Dig into the details of the history and characteristics of this distinctive poetic form.

Day 12: Stage a recitation

Memorize a poem and perform it for an audience, just like the “Friday concerts” in one-room schoolhouses. 

Day 13: Start a commonplace book

Make your own perfect-for-you poetry collection by copying your favorite poems into a notebook. 

Day 14: Plan a birthday party for a poet

There are lots to choose from in April: Maya Angelou was born on April 4, William Wordsworth on the 7th, Charles-Pierre Baudelaire on the 10th, Seamus Heaney on the 13th, Shakespeare on the 23rd, Robert Penn Warren on the 24th, and John Crowe Ransom on the 30th.  

Day 15: Tanka you

When is a syllable not a syllable? When it’s an on, a Japanese sound unit used to set the strict metric tone for the Japanese tanka.

Day 16: Play poetry with Jack Prelutsky

Get a crash course in the fun of poetic creation with beloved U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky on the Scholastic website.

Day 17: Make a connection

The Academy of American Poets invites students to write their own poetry in response to
poems written by Academy members.
Submit them, and your work could end up on poets.org. 

Day 18: Nominate a poet for a stamp

You can nominate any American poet who has been dead for at least ten years to be featured
on a U.S. stamp. Send suggestions to: Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, c/o Stamp Development, U.S. Postal Service. 475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW, Room 5670, Washington, D.C. 20260-2437    

Day 19: Laugh at limericks

Make poetic sense of nonsense with an in-depth look at Edward Lear’s work and the limerick’s form and function.

Day 20: Read aloud

Former poet laureate Billy Collins gives his best poetry reading tips — and suggestions for 180 poems to practice with — on the Poetry 180 website.

Day 21: Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day

Our second-favorite holiday (right after Read in the Bathtub Day), Poem in Your Pocket Day encourages you to carry a scribbled version of your favorite poem in your pocket to share with other poetry lovers throughout the day.   

Day 22: Get published

Mail an original poem to the Poetry Wall at the Cathedral Church of St John the Divine in New York City. All submissions, from poets known and unknown, are hung in the Cathe- dral’s ambulatory.
Mail submissions to: Muriel Rukeyser Poetry Wall, The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10025.   

Day 23: Discover new poetry

Former poet laureate Ted Kooser introduces hundreds of hand-picked poems as part of his American Llife in Poetry project.

Day 24: Tell a story in poetry

Learn about narrative poetry and poetic persona using Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening”andother works as your starting point.

Day 25: Make every day a poetry day

Subscribe to the (free) Poem-a- Day newsletter from the Academy of American Poets, and you’ll get a poem in your inbox every morning. The selections are a nice mix of classic and modern.

Day 26: Get descriptive with Karla Kuskin

Take an online workshop with poet Karla Kuskin to learn how to use strong, descriptive imagery and language in your poems.

Day 27: Make a poetry collage 

Choose a favorite poem—your own or another writer’s—and illustrate it with a collage. Magazine pictures, flower petals, scrapbook letters, colorful paper, and yarn all make handy collage supplies.  

Day 28: Play Exquisite Corpse

In this surrealist take on MadLibs, players choose a syntax pattern (adjective, noun, verb, adverb, adjective, noun, perhaps) and take turns filling in the blanks to create a poem.

Day 29: Fall in love

Read the poems of poets whose romantic relationships influenced their work, such as Elizabeth Barrett􏰁 and Robert Browning, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, or Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell.   

Day 30: Play with Shel Silverstein

Head straight for where the sidewalk ends on this fun-filled site. You’ll make your own rhymes, solve cryptograms, test your knowledge of Silverstein’s work, and more.

This article was originally published in the spring 2014 issue of home | school | life, but we're re-running it on the blog to celebrate National Poetry Month.