Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Mix and Match Poetry

Leslie Dobbs


Students create and use mixed up one-word poetry cards to write short, vivid poems.


The student uses creative writing strategies appropriate to the format (for example, using appropriate voice; using descriptive language to clarify ideas and create vivid images; using elements of style, such as appropriate tone).


--Cut up colored paper cards (enough for each student to have 15 cards)
--Board and markers/chalk
--Reference materials (dictionaries, thesauruses)
---Poetry Assessment Rubric-


1. Cut out enough colored cards for each student to have a total of 15 cards.
2. Before class, count and sort out ten cards for each student.
3. Also count and sort out five cards for each student.
4. List the criteria for poems on the board.
5. Prepare some way to shuffle the cards (either shuffle in a box or shuffle by hand).


Day 1
1. Review poetry elements and discuss the use of vivid verbs, adverbs, and adjectives in poems. Remind students how important it is to use vivid, creative words to create images in poems because poems are usually so short.
2. Discuss some examples of vivid words with the students. Make two lists on the board: One list labeled “Vivid Words” and the other labeled “Boring Words.” Have students give examples of vivid and boring words.
3. Tell the students they will be writing some interesting poems using some vivid words. Then pass out 10 blank cards to each student.
4. Instruct the students that they will have five minutes (or ten minutes if you prefer) to write one word on each of their ten cards. Ask the students to use vivid words like the examples on the board. Allow the students to use any reference materials you have available. *Instruct the students to write three (3) vivid verbs, three (3) vivid adjectives or adverbs, and four (4) nouns.
5. After five minutes, collect the cards from the students and shuffle them so they are thoroughly mixed up. While you are doing this, have the students take out a sheet of paper and prepare to write a poem.
6. Pass out the shuffled cards to the students. Suggestion on how to do this quickly and with less student talking: Pass out the cards one by one until each student has ten. You may walk around the room and pass out the cards or you may pass them out by rows. In this way, the students will have cards to study while you are still passing out the rest of the cards.
7. Once all the students have ten cards with words on them, then pass out five blank cards to each student. Instruct the students to use these cards to write additional words they might need for their poem.
8. Ask the students to write a poem using only the words on their cards and any word they wish to add to their five blank cards. Tell them they must use all the cards to write this poem, even the five blank cards. They may fill out the blank cards at any point in their writing and with whatever words they need to complete a poem that makes as much sense as possible! Encourage the students to make changes to their word cards only if the word listed on a card is inappropriate or is not a vivid word. If students make changes, they are to cross through the word on the card and write the new word below.
9. Collect the poems and the cards (keep the poems and cards together) at the end of class.
10. End of class review: Review the use of vivid words in poetry. Discuss other ways the use of vivid words may be helpful (as in writing essays, letters, etc.). Discuss some reasons not to use “boring” words in writing and talking!

*This part can be optional if you wish. Having the students do this gives them some structure for their writing. However, you do not necessarily need to pass out the cards so that each student has a certain number of verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and nouns. If you would prefer to give the students this additional structure, then plan to have this activity take place during two class periods—one period to write the cards and the next class period to write the poem. This will allow you time to sort the cards.


Assessment of student poems will be based on the following rubric:

Full Accomplishment (3): Student’s poem is creative and uses the majority of the ten word cards provided plus the five extra cards given to student. The student used the word cards as creatively as possible and most of the words used are as vivid as possible.

Substantial Accomplishment (2): Student’s poem is creative but uses only a few (5 or less) of the ten word cards provided. The student attempted to use the word cards as creatively as possible, but there are some word cards not used or not used as creatively as possible. There may also be some inappropriate words or some words that could have been made more vivid included in the poems from the word cards.

Partial Accomplishment (1): Student’s poem is not very creative and includes very few (three or less) of the word cards provided. There are also several inappropriate words or words that could have been made more vivid included in the poems from the word cards.


This lesson allows students a hands-on opportunity for poetry writing. This lesson can easily be made into a group activity to help ESE/ESOL students develop poetry writing skills.
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