For some, poetry provides beauty and insight to the world. For others, poetry is vague and confusing. English teachers hope to instill a love of words in all of their students, and writing their own poems can help students understand the art form better. Making a poetry word search for students will help, too. You can go the extra mile by making word searches with poems written by your students, or even a crossword puzzle. Start making word searches now, or take these three steps with your class.
Step 1: Have students write a poem.
Before students write their poems, make sure students understand the concepts behind their poems first, and the different kinds of poems available to them. This “Poetry terms” word search will give them ideas.
Or give students a word search like this one, and tell them to incorporate certain elements into their poem. If you want, make a similar word search including concepts and styles they must include in their own poems.
Once they have an understanding of what their poems should include, help your students find inspiration from famous poets and poems. This “Poetry Word Search” lists some of the greats.
Now it’s time to have students write their poem according to the lesson plan. Keep in mind that shorter poems may work better for Step 2. Otherwise, any poem would work well to cover thematic ideas.
Step 2: Make a poetry word search.
If you have the time, go ahead and make a word search for every student’s poem. However, it may be more beneficial to make word searches out of select student poems to highlight those who followed the directions of the assignment best. Then have the class solve them.
For example, if a student wrote a well-constructed haiku, turn it into a word search and have students solve it. Then have them identify what makes it a haiku. In addition to solving the word search, they could divide the syllabic stress within the word list. This “Haiku Word Search” provides an example.
Do a similar exercise with any poem that follows other structures, like those with iambic pentameter or with other rhyme schemes. Then have students circle related words, like parts of speech or rhyming words, in different colors.
You might also change the design or size of the word search to represent the literal and metaphorical aspects of the poem. A poem about love might have a heart. A rebirth poem might have a flower to symbolize growth and new beginnings. This will help lead to the final step.
Step 3: Discuss.
Have students discuss the results of the exercise. What poets or poems follow similar structures or thematic ideas? What kinds of poems work better (or worse) as word searches and why? By deconstructing a poem in iambic pentameter, for example, students might realize what it takes to find words for their own poems that fit the structure. Furthermore, which word searches and poems contained rhyming words? Which did not? Do all poems need to rhyme?
You might also discuss elements like why the poetry word search had a certain shape or size. Did it accurately capture the essence of the poem? Presuming the word search was made from a student poem, the student can discuss if the word search accurately captured the essence of their meaning.
Whether or not students end this exercise with a newfound love for poetry, they’ll gain a new appreciation for words, rhyme, thematic meaning, and poetic structure. Plus, they’ll feel proud to see their work featured in such a unique way. Take it a step further by hosting a poetry slam for all of your students to participate in! Their word searches can also be featured in a program to highlight the other activities featured in the unit. Make word searches or crossword puzzles for your class now, or have them solve other poetry word searches made by teachers like you.
Kristen Seikaly used her artistic background, research skills, and love for the internet to launch her first blog, Operaversity. Now she uses the skills to connect teachers, parents, and game enthusiasts with Crossword Hobbyist and My Word Search. She studied music at the University of Michigan, and now lives in Philadelphia.