Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

MakerSpace: April National Poetry Month Activities

In the Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH), we’re getting ready for National Poetry Month (April). We have a variety of activities that we will be hosting all month long in our makerspace using our materials to get teens thinking about and creating poetry. Some of our ideas include making our own chalkboards for teens to write poetry on, turning poetry into digital art and turning them into buttons, and creating visual poetry using methods like Black Out Poetry or Post It note art.

This will be our second year doing poetry in our Teen MakerSpace, so we tried to build on what worked for us successfully last year and provide even more options with more material choices.

Poetry Activities 2017  Poetry Activities 2017 part 2

If you have some other creative suggestions, we would love to hear from you. It’s never too late to add some fun, new ideas.

TPiB: MakerSpace Poetry

makerspacelogoI love poetry. In fact, I still have all my old high school notebooks full of my very bad angst filled poetry. Occasionally, I still even add a new poem. And since April is National Poetry Month, I wanted to find a way to combine some poetry activities with the new MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (Ohio). So I took some of my favorite poetry month activities and makerized them (yes, that’s probably not really a word).

Personalized Magnetic Poetry Kits


Create your own magnetic poetry kits using recycled materials. By storing your magnets inside your old Altoid (or other recycled) tin, you can also use the inside cover as a place to create your own mini-poems.

For Magnets:

  • Magnets sheets or strips (I find that using the big rolls of magnet strips is difficult because they don’t want to lay flat)
  • Old magazines/comic books
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Cut out your favorite words and glue them onto the magnet sheets. Cut the magnets to size. Tada – you have your own magnetic poetry kit. The tin works really well to hold them and you can use the tin as canvas to make your own poems on the go.

For Magnet Carrying Case:

  • Old tins (Altoid tins or old lunch boxes work great)
  • Your favorite picture printed on regular printer paper
  • Scissors
  • Mod Podge
  • A sponge brush

Create or print an image of your choice. Creating an original image using a variety of photo apps at the iPad bar really ups the MakerSpace factor here. Make sure it fits onto the front of your tin. Cut to size. Glue. Cover with Mod Podge. Allow it to dry completely.

Black Out Poetry

Tear out a page in a discarded book or magazine.

Have teens use a Sharpie pen to black out words. A majority of the page will be blacked out.

The remaining words make up your poem.

Supplies needed: discarded books/magazines, Sharpies

Chalkboard Poetry


Chalkboard made out of an old frame and chalkboard paint

Give teens a chalkboard (or a sidewalk) and chalk to write a poem. They can add flourishes and doodles if they would like. (Please note: the clean lid to a discarded pizza box also works well for chalk.) You can also make your own chalkboards using old picture frames or blank canvases, chalkboard paint and embellishments.

Supplies needed: chalk, small chalkboards

Original Poetry Buttons

Now, to Makerize these. Take a photo of the poem on a chalkboard/sidewalk or of the page of black out poetry. You can use your photo apps to add filters, effects and more. Size and print them. Then, we are using our button makers to make the personalized poems into buttons.


A sidewalk poem by The Teen made into a button

Poem in Your Pocket

Make a “pocket” – aka a cell phone carrier – out of Duct Tape. This then becomes a pocket that you can carry your cell phone and a poem in.


Duct Tape Cell Phone Case Instructions can be found here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Duct-Tape-Cell-Phone-Cover-1/. There are also good YouTube tutorials

Those are just a few of my ideas. What will you be doing this month to celebrate poetry?

Take 5: 5 Books Coming Soon That YOU MUST READ

So I read, a lot. Sometimes 3 to 5 books a week. These are some books that I have read recently that I think are so spectacularly good that everyone should read them. Yes, that means you. Some of these you have heard me mention frequently on Twitter. Others, I have been holding my bubbling excitement in with tremendous amount of effort. But I can hold it in no longer, because you definitely want to add these to your TBR piles.

Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

Publisher’s Description: Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else.

But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie.

Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know the truth about their past. A truth she’s kept hidden for years. A truth she’s not supposed to tell.

Trust nothing and no one as you race toward the explosive conclusion of this gripping psychological thriller from the William C. Morris Award-winning author of Charm & Strange.

Karen’s Thoughts:
This is a masterful psychological thriller. The ending floored me, in fact after I finally picked my jaw up off the floor I stood and applauded Kuehn for making some very bold storytelling choices. I can not stress enough what an engaging read this is. You know from the description that things are not what they seem, and to be honest I thought some very different things were happening then what was happening. There are some epic twists and turn here, and the tension is superb.  Kuehn won the 2014 Morris Award for Charm & Stranger for a reason, girl can write and Complicit does not let the reader down. Pair this with Scowler by Daniel Kraus for some great psychological thriller action.

Publishes June 2014 from St. Martin’s. ISBN: 9781250044594

Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson


Publisher’s Description: A year ago Hurricane Josephine swept through Savannah, Georgia, leaving behind nothing but death and destruction — and taking the life of Dovey’s best friend, Carly. Since that night, Dovey has been in a medicated haze, numb to everything around her.

But recently she’s started to believe she’s seeing things that can’t be real … including Carly at their favorite cafe. Determined to learn the truth, Dovey stops taking her pills. And the world that opens up to her is unlike anything she could have imagined.

As Dovey slips deeper into the shadowy corners of Savannah — where the dark and horrifying secrets lurk — she learns that the storm that destroyed her city and stole her friend was much more than a force of nature. And now the sinister beings truly responsible are out to finish what they started.

Dovey’s running out of time and torn between two paths. Will she trust her childhood friend Baker, who can’t see the threatening darkness but promises to never give up on Dovey and Carly? Or will she plot with the sexy stranger, Isaac, who offers all the answers — for a price? Soon Dovey realizes that the danger closing in has little to do with Carly … and everything to do with Dovey herself.
Karen’s Thoughts:
I actually read this book sometime last year for no other reason than it had the most amazing cover ever. Yep, I too judge a book by it’s cover. This is some seriously creepy – and I mean that in the most amazing way – southern Gothic horror. The beginning part, where we learn about the poverty of the area, meet our main characters, and experience the storm: that is some amazing writing. And then you start learning about the way that demons kind of undulate under every part of this town – wicked cool. So descriptive, so haunting, so mesmerizing. The way that the author uses the lore of demons to undergird this entire world, an epically cool twist. And the way that the humans interact with the demons, which involves seriously gross things, will blow readers minds. There is an entire scene at a “amusement park” which will keep you awake at night and make you seriously reconsider your summer plans to visit your local carnivals.
Publishes in August 2014 from Simon Pulse. ISBN: 9781442483781
Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann

Publisher’s Description: Every little girl goes through her princess phase, whether she wants to be Snow White or Cinderella, Belle or Ariel. But then we grow up. And life is not a fairy tale.

Christine Heppermann’s collection of fifty poems puts the ideals of fairy tales right beside the life of the modern teenage girl. With piercing truths reminiscent of Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins, this is a powerful and provocative book for every young woman. E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars, calls it “a bloody poetic attack on the beauty myth that’s caustic, funny, and heartbreaking.”

Cruelties come not just from wicked stepmothers, but also from ourselves. There are expectations, pressures, judgment, and criticism. Self-doubt and self-confidence. But there are also friends, and sisters, and a whole hell of a lot of power there for the taking. In fifty poems, Christine Heppermann confronts society head on. Using fairy tale characters and tropes, Poisoned Apples explores how girls are taught to think about themselves, their bodies, and their friends. The poems range from contemporary retellings to first-person accounts set within the original tales, and from deadly funny to deadly serious. Complemented throughout with black-and-white photographs from up-and-coming artists, this is a stunning and sophisticated book to be treasured, shared, and paged through again and again.
Karen’s Thoughts:
I read this book for one simple reason: A. S. King said this book was so good she blurbed it. That speaks volumes to me. These poems are so amazing and the perfectly capture a lot of what teens think and feel about things like body image, cultural messaging, and more. They kind of take the tone and conceit of fairy tales, make them into poems, and use these poems to discuss things like periods and anorexia . . . The poems are haunting with their incisive look at what it means to be a girl in today’s world. For example, a poem entitled “Sweet Nothings” ends with the line:
How stupid that all I have to do
is grow two squishy lumps and
I’m man’s best friend
All I can say is, these poems are amazing. Read them.
Publishes in September 2014 from Greenwillow Books. ISBN: 9780062289599

Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir

Publisher’s Description: From the author of Fault Line comes an edgy and heartbreaking novel about two self-destructive teens in a Sid and Nancy-like romance full of passion, chaos, and dyed hair.

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just “Gannon” to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers-even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.

Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.

But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she’s standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She’s given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks-until he poses the ultimate test.

Bleed Like Me is a piercing, intimate portrayal of the danger of a love so obsessive it becomes its own biggest threat.

Karen’s Thoughts:
I know you are thinking to yourself, but Karen, you are biased because you are working with Christa on the #SVYALit Project. I have a personal rule that is very easy to follow: Because I want my site to be a reputable site, I have to be honest about my reviews. Here’s the deal, after finishing Bleed Like Me I emailed Christa and basically said, please don’t take this the wrong way but this book is soooo much better than Fault Line. And it is. Christa has created a well developed character study into the life of one girl and the very unhealthy relationship she gets involved in. This is a must read for Ellen Hopkins fans; all the gritty reality but in prose. It is very edgy and mature, make no mistake about that, but it is hands down a perfect look into the complexities of how and why people get into the most dysfunctional relationships. It is also a profound look at what are sometimes considered the murkier areas of sexual consent; namely, if a boy uses guilt and manipulation to get a girl to consent, how consensual is it really? This is also a very compelling look at family and identity and how changing family dynamics can impact how we see ourselves fitting into the universe.

Publishes in October 2014 from Simon Pulse. ISBN: 9781442498907

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A. S. King

Publisher’s Description:

Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities—but not for Glory, who has no plan for what’s next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she’s never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way…until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person’s infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions—and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying.

A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women’s rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she’ll do everything in her power to make sure this one doesn’t come to pass.

In this masterpiece about freedom, feminism, and destiny, Printz Honor author A.S. King tells the epic story of a girl coping with devastating loss at long last—a girl who has no idea that the future needs her, and that the present needs her even more.

Karen’s Thoughts:
My love for A. S. King is so deep and profound at this point that I go into each new book with a mixture of both anticipation and anxiety. My fear is that one day I won’t like one of her books and then I won’t know how to order my universe. But today is not that day! I freaking loved this book. In many ways, Glory O’Brien is reminiscent to me of Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. How you ask? It has an interesting “friendship” – in this case a female one – and it juxtaposes alternating contemporary fiction (King truly captures the teenage voice) with some very cool speculative fiction elements. Glory O’Brien is a fascinating character and she perfectly captures that moment of transition when teens are about to graduate high school and they think, holy crap what now? Her journey of self discovery is authentic, sincere, and resonates. This book was full of quotes that teens will latch onto as personal mantras. And I sincerely love that it is unabashedly feminist in the things O’Brien says to both herself and to the universe around her. This is a journey of self discovery and it was an enlightening joy to take it with this character. This may be my favorite King title yet.

Publishes in October 2014 from Little, Brown. ISBN: 9780316222723

I downloaded eArcs of all of these books on Edelweiss.

MG Book Review: Outside the Box: A Book of Poems by Karma Wilson

When you think outside the box . . .

Poems about Pigasus appear!
Not to mention
and all sorts of
monkey business.

You can snack on Greekwiches,
build a pet robot, then
dance with the Boogie Man.

Fly the largest kite,
sleight down the
steepest hill, and find
all those aliens
under your bed!

Anything can happen
outside the box.

Now won’t you join
us for a read?
– from the inside jacket copy

April is National Poetry Month and this book of poetry magically appeared at my door. I quickly read through it and gave it to the Tween to read and we both give it a thumbs up.  These are fun poems, much in the vein of Shel Silverstein. In fact, the cover and drawings inside are very reminiscent of Shel Silverstein.

There is a fun poem inside called My Pet Robot (page 18) which you could use to introduce a Robot Makerspace craft for either this year’s science themed summer reading program or even Earth Day. Simply gather together a wide variety of recyclables and have tweens create a robot. Or have a tech day where they take apart old, discarded technology and use the innards and pieces to make a robot. Not functional robots, just robot looking crafts.

There are some fun poems about songs and music, including Stuck in My Head (page 24), Garage Band (page 26), and Shower Songs (page 28) that would be fun to include in a music themed program.

There is a section of “scary” themed poems that would be great for Halloween time.

There is a great poem called A Lump of Clay that is all about how you can take this lump of clay and make it in to something. It would be a fun way to just have a Makerspace/Craft day using clay. You can buy air dry clay which eliminates the need for baking.

The poems are quick reads, fast and fun. The Tween laughed a lot while reading the book. She has a copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends which she keeps by her bed and I think this book is joining it. Definitely recommended.

Outside the Box: A Book of Poems. Poems by Karma Wilson. Drawings by Diane Goode.  Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014.  Ages 7-10. ISBN: 978-1-4169-8005-6.

Instagram Book Spine Poetry Mini Contest with The Library as Incubator Project

April is epically awesome for many things, but one of my favorites is the fact that it is National Poetry Month. I have journals full of my probably horrific and definitely embarrassing poems that I began writing in the early teen years but continue to write today. But there is a quick, easy and – most importantly – fun way you can do poetry using books! Grab a stack of books and use the titles on the spine to write some Book Spine Poetry.

In collaboration with The Library as Incubator Project, we’ll be running a contest on Instagram and Twitter for 10 days starting April 21.  We want to see your best Book Spine Poems!  But you have to use #bkspinepoem to be in the running for the fabulous book prize(s)!

What: Book Spine Poem Mini Contest
When: April 21 to the end of the month
Where: Instagram & Twitter
Why: Because ART
How: #bkspinepoem

For librarians: This is an easy program that you can throw together.  Just get your teens to gather in the library, explain the idea, and let them loose!  Get them to collaborate with one another in making their poems.  It’s easy to get stuck on how you think your poem should go, rather than working with the titles you have.  Talk about the parts of a sentence you might need (books that act as verbs are crucial!).  Have them Instagram or tweet their poems, then tell them to mix and match their poems!  What’s the longest poem they can create?  The most complete sentence?  The most haunting/beautiful/lyrical/etc?  Let them go wild!  And of course, you can always make it a drop-in passive program with just a simple sign for explanation.

Have fun and create some awesome poetry!

More Poetry Resources for National Poetry Month:
Take 5 Entries into Poetry
Poetically Speaking
National Poetry Month Crafts
Freeing Your Life with Words

This contest announcement was written by the awesome people at The Library as Incubator Project, which I highly recommend you check out. Also, if you are interested, I did post some of my poems here in a mini-collection called Life’s Bilest Moments; this is a collection of poems I wrote about my experience with a pregnancy disease called Hyperemesis Gravidarum.

Take 5: Entries into Poetry

Poetry is weird and hard. It’s confusing and vague and boring. Unless it’s not.  Here are five easy entries to poetry for teens, in honor of National Poetry Month.

1. After The Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy

It looks like realistic romantic teen fiction, it moves like realistic romantic teen fiction, it IS realistic romantic teen fiction, but GOTCHA! It’s a novel in verse.  The reason I picked this over the many many other novels in verse out there is that this one really works. The characters write poetry, poetry plays into the plotline, and each voice (and his or her poetic style) is distinctive and fits the character perfectly. Also, like some readers, the characters sometimes struggle with form, meter, and style, working hard to make their words work in a poetic structure.

2. Magnetic Poetry

It doesn’t even have to be magnetic – it could be single words printed on card stock with sticky tack on the back. Make a poetry wall in your teen area and encourage kids to combine words in awkward and funny and wonderful ways.

3. United States of Poetry

This miniseries and companion book reveal poetry in images and sound, bringing modern poetry to a whole new audience. Johnny Depp reads Kerouac, a drag queen performs Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and performances by the now late Alan Ginsberg, Czelaw Milosz, Amiri Baraka, Lou Reed, and Maggie Estep (among many other still living poets) can work to bring to life what is sometimes awkward, difficult and hard to access.

4. Record-A-Poem or other poetry on Soundcloud

The Poetry Foundation has an interactive project going on, inviting people to record their favorite poems. It began last year and there are well over two thousand pieces recorded for folks to browse or be inspired by. But don’t stop there, search Soundcloud for poetry and you’ll find all kinds of projects and new ways to connect with poems, like this version of a well known Emily Dickinson poem set to music.

5. Where I’m From poems

This is a simple, personal poetic structure that leads to some truly lovely results, and the best part is that it all comes from the writer’s own personal experience. If you’re looking to incorporate poetry writing into a teen program, consider working with a Where I’m From poem. Your teens will surprise themselves!

Take 5 Gift-Making Programs (TPiB)

Whether it’s in conjunction with the winter holidays, Mother’s Day, or just for something fun, these simple activities are inexpensive, easy to put together, and provide each teen with a nice giftable item to take home.


1. Snack-in-a-Jar

Photo credit:
There are innumerable variations on the in-a-jar theme, but the very simplest is a snack mix.  Provide jars or ask teens to bring their own – a clean spaghetti sauce jar is a good option.  Having plastic gloves and a warning about food allergies and sensitivities is a must.  The set up is simple: a table with bowls of the various snack options and scoops.  Teens mix and match and layer their preferred snack – sweet, savory, or a mix!  

Suggested items:
cheese crackers, pretzels, or other small crackers
breakfast cereals like Os, Life, Chex
sweets like M&Ms, chocolate or butterscotch chips
raisins or other dried fruits
nuts or sunflower seeds

2. Decorated Soaps

Photo credit:
I just did this craft the hard way – with persnickety adults – but doing it with teens would be lots of fun too.  Ten bars of Ivory soap were $5 at Target this week, and you probably have the other supplies already: stickers, fabric scraps, scrapbook paper, and Mod Podge.  
Shape your soap with a table knife if you want – Ivory is very soft and easy to carve.  Then cover one side of your soap with a layer of Mod Podge, arrange your decoration, and then another layer of Mod Podge.  You can get fancy and use dried flowers or herbs, or dip the decorated side in melted paraffin, or you could make fancy paper wraps for the soap, or you could skip that and just have fun.  
Broaden the appeal by including decorations like local favorite sports teams, trendy motifs (mustaches, foxes, chevrons), or seasonal items (snowmen in the winter, hearts around Valentine’s, beachy stuff in the summer).

3. “Where I’m From” Poetry

Mitten shout-out. Photo credit:
This is an approachable poetry technique that encourages the writer to pull small but significant images, senses, emotions, and events from their past, weaving them into a poem with a simple structure.  This is a technique that enables even those who have never written a poem before to create a lovely piece, and it very regularly leads to beautiful, tear-jerking results, making it an ideal gift for family, close friends, and loved ones.  First, read the George Ella Lyon poem that originated the exercise, and share several teen examples as well.  Scholastic has a nice lesson plan.  For the super creative, encourage teens to illustrate their poems.  You could also adapt this into a word cloud, to different effect. 

4. Custom Hot Cocoa Mixes

Photo credit: http://www.vanillajoy.com/
Great for an easy winter program, I’ve done this as a part of my Valentine’s Day chocolate extravaganza.  Use this recipe to make your own cocoa mix, or buy pre-made Swiss Miss.  The fun is in customizing the cocoa with add-ins like:
Chocolate or white chocolate shavings
Crushed peppermints
Cayenne pepper
Mini marshmallows
Mini chocolate chips

5. Tub Teas

Photo credit: www.marthastweart.com
This could be a spa-night activity too, but it makes a great mom/auntie/grandma item, especially for younger teens who lack resources but want something sweet and nice to give as a gift.  Martha’s tutorial uses heat sealable tea bags and fancy herbs, which can add up fast, but there are some easy ways to make this more economical:
1. Instead of the heat sealable tea bags, buy the fold-over style, or layer a few squares of cheese cloth and tie with a pretty ribbon.
2. Include a healthy scoop of epsom salt.
3. Shop your local bulk store for the herbs. 
4. Purchase a few bottles of essential oil to scent the salt.  I little goes a looong way.


TPiB: 5 Things To Do With Post-Its In Your Library

With only a few minutes and a couple dollars, you can do some really creative and engaging things.  Check out these ideas, take a look around your space, grab some sticky notes and see what you can do!

Encourage teens to write poems to share on a wall or window, or encourage them to copy favorite lines and share them like the Durham County Library did.

Stick secret notes into favorite books for teens to discover, or add to.  Reading is social, even if it’s secretly social as this Post Secret submission reminds us.

Get some heart shaped notes and stick them on book covers for a Books We Love display, and add a line or two about why you love the book.  This could also work for star shaped notes to highlight Award Winners.
Nyan Cat!  Stacey at the Naperville Public Library explains how she did it, but you could use the technique for any other pixel art project you can think of.
Use them to write crib notes to yourself when you do booktalks.  It’s easier than note cards because it’s less to hold and allows you to pick up any book and instantly have your notes attached.  I can’t be the only one who can never remember how old characters are, or needs a few key words to jog my memory of the fabulous hook I want to leave for teens, right?
Got some more good ideas?  Share ’em in the comments!

TPiB: Poetry Crafts!

Like a lot of Middle and High School students, I started writing angsty teenage poetry with the best of them.  And I love doing National Poetry Month (April) activities with my tweens and teens.  Actually, you can read some of my poetry as I wrote a few poems as part of the awareness campaign for Hyperemesis Gravidarum, a pregnancy disease I suffered 3 times.  As someone who loves poetry, I love doing poetry related activities with my tweens and teens at the library.

 For my tweens and teens, all it takes is a canvas of open sidewalk and some sidewalk chalk to make some amazing poetry.  But I like to step it up a notch and give them something they can take home, as well. You can do simple things with the sidewalk chalk poetry, like take Instagram pics and do any number of Instagram crafts to create poetry keepsakes. (Links to the Instagram crafts appear at the end of this post.)

However, one of my favorite craft activities is to make your own Magnetic Poetry Kits.  Magnetic poetry kits were all the rage at one time, but I like to invite teens to create personalizes ones.  It’s an easy craft, great for sitting around and talking while you are working on it in a group setting.


  • An old tin of some sort.  Used Altoid and other types of mint tins work well for this.
  • Discarded magazines, especially teen ones (look, a great Earth Day craft as well!)
  • Blank magnets of various sizes.  These are quickly and easily purchased at any craft store.  I do, however, recommend that you don’t buy the rolls as they seem not to have quite as much sticking power and they are harder to flatten.
  • Scissors
  • Glue or, my favorite, one of those scrapbooking tools that you can feed things through that turns things into stickers. (Xyron, for example, makes a line of these in various sizes)
  • If you want to decorate your tin, you can use acrylic paints or scrapbooking paper to give it a unique look.

Have teens go through the magazines to find a variety – and I mean a lot – of words that mean something to them.  They can be short, long, creative, embellished, whatever.  As they find the words, have them cut them out and put them aside.

Once they have the words they want, you can begin putting them onto the magnets.  For a cleaner look, they will want to cut the magnets down to size.  You can use glue, which is messier, or the sticker machine to adhere the words to the magnets.

It really is that simple! You can decorate your tin if you would like.  But the best part about using a tin is that when you open it, the lid can become your portable poetry canvas. Tutorial: Altered Altoid Tin

Bookspine Poetry

Set up a Bookspine Poetry table in your room.  All you need is a wide variety of titles on a table and teens can go and create some bookspine poems at their leisure.  I recommend taking pictures as the poems are created so you can share them on your social media sites and, again, you could also do a variety of Instagram crafts of the poems or create these Instagram bookmarks. 

Blackout Poetry Canvas

A canvas (new or used)
Discarded newspaper
Black markers
Mod Podge
Black paint

Step 1: Prep your canvas

I think the picture looks better with a black edge, but this is debatable.  If you pre-purchase canvases, there are some black ones available.  If you don’t, you can easily spray paint your canvas before beginning.  Or, you can use a sponge brush and black paint to paint the exposed edges after you put your final project together.

Step 2: Write your poem

 Blackout Poetry is the practice of blacking out most of the words on a newspaper page while the remaining words that are visible become your poem.  Check out the Newspaper Blackout website and book for more information.  Cut a piece of newspaper the size of your canvas, and begin creating your poem using your black marker and newspaper page.

Here’s a fun alternative: You can use pages from discarded teen magazines.  So a fan of One Direction can use a page with a One Directon picture and use this technique and the words on the page to write their own orginal poem about 1D and create some awesome 1D fan art. Also, book pages work well too.

Step 3: Mod Podge away

Glue your page to the canvas and give t a little time to set and dry.  Then, use Mod Podge over the top of the entire page to seal it all in.  Now you have some awesome wall art for any teenage room, totally unique and original.

Some YA titles inspired by poetry

Variations on a “Poem in My Pocket”

The Cootie Catcher Poem
Cootie Catchers, or Fortune Tellers, are back in style thanks in no small part to our friend Origami Yoda.  This is also a fun way to have teens create poems with their friends.  Fold your cootie catcher, then have teens write words or lines of poetry into each fold.  As teens go through the motions of the game with their friends, they will be writing short, fun poems together.  This is a fun variation on the Poem in My Pocket activity.  Also, this is a fun variation on the Exquisite Corpse project, which you can learn more about at Poets.orghttp://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/5619.

The Duct Tape Pocket
You can use this cell phone duct tape case pattern to create a duct tape “pocket” for teens to carry their poems in.

More Poetry on TLT:
TPiB: Poetically Speaking
Freeing Your Life with Words

Instagram Crafts
Instagram Bookmarks

The One Word to Terrify Them All (a guest post by K. A. Holt)

On Sunday, March 10th, author K. A. Holt will be visiting my library as part of our Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels visit.  If you live in or around the Grand Prairie area, please consider stopping by and supporting libraries and authors. Today, author K. A. Holt shares a guest post with us to talk about the one thing that seems to terrify tweens and teens.
Sometimes I’m afraid that among pre-teen and teen readers there is One Word To Terrify Them All. Or maybe worse: One Word No One Thinks About Until They See It And Then They’re All OH MAN I Don’t Want To Read THAT.

The word?


Wait, wait – don’t run away.

I’m here to convince you that poetry is not boring. It’s not difficult to read. It’s not snobby or foofy or lame or whatever. I mean, it can be… but it doesn’t have to be.

I should probably come clean and tell you that I write books in verse. Not all of my books, but some of them. One of my books is about zombies and chupocabras and humans all trying to go to middle school together without eating each other. The whole book is written in haiku. Five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables. Three-lined poems tell the whole story – brain-eating, fights, crushes (both of the romantic kind and the bone-crunching kid) and more. It’s poetry, but it might not be the first thing that pops to mind when you have that “aaargh, a book in poetry, what?!” reaction.
A zombie novel written in Haiku? Yes please!

Another book I’ve written (that is tentatively scheduled for release in 2014) is about a bully who rips pages out of library books so he can scratch out words and make messages. You don’t usually think of defacing school property as poetry, and yet… That’s the cool thing about poems. They can be anything you want. It’s just a way to focus words on the most important details of a story.

You know those bouillon cubes you drop in hot water to make chicken broth? The cube dissolves in the water, leaving trails of salty silt that you stir to make a warm, filling soup. A poem is like a bouillon cube – all the salty goodness of a story is compacted into a tiny space. The hot water is like your brain. Those compacted words seep out of the poem, filling your brain and spreading out into worlds and characters that the author trusts you to help create. Weird analogy? Sure. But kind of true.

Reading a novel that’s written in verse gives you all the punch and excitement of a prose book (sometimes even more), but with fewer words, fewer pages, and arguably more imagination. You become an important part of the telling of the story because you take those few words and give them life.

Here are some ya titles written in verse, with a fun poetry activity to do w/teens

So please, for the sake of zombies and chupocabras and sonnets and free verse, and torn out pages everywhere, don’t freeze up when you see the word “poetry.” Don’t feel harrumphy when you see “novel in verse” on the cover of a book.

Poetry is beautiful. It’s ugly. It’s exhausting. It’s freeing. It’s simple. It’s complex. It can hold the whole world in just a handful of words.

Book Inspired by a Poem or Poetry . . .
Golden by Jessi Kirby comes out in 2013, based on Robert Frost, so very good
Coming in 2013, and so very brilliant. Great voice.

Yes, I’m biased, but I want you to be biased, too. Poetry can be anything you want it to be. Not everything can say that. Not everything can live up to that. So give it a whirl and see what you think.

Sharon Creech, Ron Koertge, Ellen Hopkins, Lisa Schroeder, Sarah Tregay, Sonya Sones, Virginia Euwer Wolff, Linda Oatman High, Caroline Rose, Walter Dean Myers and more, more, more. All of these authors write novels in verse. And so do I.

Why not pick up a book and give it a try?

[I totally did not rhyme that last part on purpose. I swear.]

And more poetry:
TPiB: Poetically speaking, poetry activities to do with tweens and teens 
TPiB: Freeing your life with words . . . more poetry activities

K. A. Holt  is the author of Brains for Lunch and Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel? You can find out more about her, and her books, by visiting her webpage. It is set up like a comic book and epically cool.