Make Magic in Class with Secret Homes for Special Poems

Make magic in class by helping kids create secret homes for special poems. What's inside this little black t-shirt?

Make magic in class by helping kids create secret homes for special poems. What’s inside this little black t-shirt?

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

In some parts of the world today, people are wishing for a magic wand to make miserable weather disappear. “Poof! Be gone, wicked weather,” we’d say if we had magical powers.

Nature’s fury, along with mid-term vacations this time of year, force teachers in communities worldwide to manage classes that are in, then out, then in again.

In these conditions, it can be tricky to catch and keep kids’ attention. What to do?

Make some eye-catching, ear-catching, imagination-grabbing magic in class by inviting students to create their own secret homes for special poems.

Kids LOVE this activity!

Draw them in with the opportunity to choose a focus for their poetry writing and create a secret home for a special poem.

Surprise! Pull on the pink ears poking up from a paper t-shirt and a little bunny poem appears!

Surprise! Pull on the pink ears poking up from a paper t-shirt and a little bunny poem appears!. Magic!

The magic…

…kids get to “hide” the special poems that they write in special places they create with paper folds, cuts and coloring.

Until someone unfolds or pulls on students’ paper designs, like t-shirts, homemade envelopes, paper airplanes or paper strips, their poems remain unknown.

Explain to your class that THIS poetry writing is a challenge with fun written all over it.

Imagine, for example, a little poem about a bunny, written by a third grade student, that pops out of a handmade black paper t-shirt adorned with the word, “Magic.”

Materials needed? Nothing more than paper, pencils, scissors, and markers or crayons. Colored construction paper is an asset, but not a requirement.

How can you guide students in making magic in class with secret homes for special poems?

Follow these steps to create a basic Secret Home for a Special Poem:

1) Hold up a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 inch white copy paper.

2) Fold the right vertical side of the paper to the left to make a 2-inch wide inside “poem strip.” The  paper will now measure 6 1/2 inches wide.

3) Draw (and color if you like) a picture that connects with your poem’s focus all over the folded paper, front and back. (Do not draw on the white section that remains when you re-open the paper to a full 8 1/2 inches wide.) Set the illustrated paper aside.

4) On a separate sheet of notebook paper write your poem in narrow lines that go all the way down the page.  This long, narrow format will fit in the white paper “poem strip” space of the illustrated paper.

5) After you draft your poem, handwritten or computer-typed, check grammar and spelling; then clearly rewrite or print out the poem (in a space no wider than 2 inches, no longer than 8 1/2 inches) on a new sheet of white paper.

6) Cut out the finished poem in a long narrow strip.

7) Glue the “poem strip” to the inside blank section of the white paper.  The right edge of “poem strip” should align with the right edge of the paper so that when you fold the paper again, the poem is hidden in its “secret home.”

8) Hold up the folded Secret Home with a Special Poem paper, show the front and back to the class, and announce that you have something special to share. Open the page and reveal the poem. Fun!!!

I’ve designed and written a special poem hidden in a secret home titled, After the Rain.

Both sides have leaves drawn and colored green with white drops of rain on them. When the “poem strip” at right is folded to the left, the poem is hidden.

When the "poem strip" at right is folded to the left, the poem becomes a secret!
Feel free to download the poem.

I’ve also printed the long, narrow lines below. Note that some lines have only a single word or letter (like the word f-a-l-l-s). That’s part of the magic of poetry writing.***

When I present this poem to students, I first say that After the Rain is a poem that asks a single question.

Listen,” I ask for attention with a single command; then I begin reading aloud.

*** To save post space, I’ve printed the word f-a-l-l-s all on one line here.

After

the rain

falls

from

an

angry sky,

how can

raindrop

clusters

on

freshly

washed

green 

leaves 

glisten

like

a big smile,

smell sweet

as a child

after

bath time,

form

tiny puddles

inviting

touch,

remind me

of tasty

melted ice

in summer,

smell like

spring,

and 

quiet me

with

their silence?

Leaves, ready to color, cover the back of a secret poem page.    Download leaves with raindrop clusters that cover this page. Both the front and back of the Secret Home page are ready to color.
When reluctant writers hear that they can hide a special poem that they write in a cool place like behind a car door, they're totally involved in learning!

When reluctant writers hear that they can hide a special poem that they write in a cool place like behind a car door, they’re totally involved in learning!

Reluctant writers, who may include boys in grades 2 – 5, find freedom of expression in making magic by writing special poems to

Learning becomes magical when it taps a child's interest, like the passion a young boy has for fast cars.

Learning becomes magical when it taps a child’s interest, like the passion a young boy has for fast cars.

hide in secret homes.

A boy in one of my classes presented me with a gift of a paper car, complete with a poem that he’d written and hidden behind the car door. He was so involved in making magic in class with secret homes for special poems that his acquisition of important writing and design skills in the process seemed to him like a party.
Please send comments about how you engage students in writing. 

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in any instructional setting!

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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  1. […] they’re ready, ask the kids to re-write the finished poems around the outside of the hat or inside below the […]

  2. […] Speaking of poetry, Angie Stafford was inspired to create the poetic form she used in her Philosophy of Education Creed by another teacher’s poetry lesson. […]

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Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Students continue to use lackluster verbs in their writing.

Solution: Show toy cars and pretend to make them zip across a page, telling the class that good writing includes action words (verbs) that have "zip." Ask the class for examples of "zippy" verbs like zoom, race, flash, rush, etc.

Related Posts: Start Students' Engines for Writing