Paperbag Poetry in First Grade

April is National Poetry Month!

In first grade we are learning about poetry by playing the paper bag game. I don’t tell the students what we are going to be studying for the next few library lessons. Instead I  introduce poetry with a game – The Bulldog Paperbag Game!


When I was in Canada in February, I stayed at the Bulldog Hotel.

Of course, the Bulldog Readers Librarian would stay at the Bulldog Hotel, right?

It was actually a coincidence, but when I got this bag for something I purchased, I knew it would come in handy at some point! Our poetry game was the perfect use for my bag.

The object of the game is to become observers, by using their senses, but not their sight! Their observations would become a poem.


Then I selected four objects I had in the library and had them ready to place in the bag.

After I blindfolded a volunteer, I had the student reach inside the bag and describe what they felt.


As each student described what they felt, I wrote their words on a piece of chart paper. Then we took the blindfold off and the students had the chance to guess what was inside the bag. The name of the item became the title of the poem.




Pretty hard

Has bumps




Bottom part

Shaped like a square



Teddy Bear











Not Squishy

Stuck together

Two holes


After writing four of these descriptions, I asked the students what we were writing. We had several guesses, until someone said, “A Poem!” That was followed by, “No, that’s not a poem. Poems have to rhyme!”

It was the perfect transition to the idea that poems can be written about anything or in any style, rhyming or not! Stay tuned for next week’s lesson on writing group poems about an object.

The idea for this lesson came from the book, Joyful Ways to Teach Young Children to Write Poetry by Jodi Weisbart.

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14 thoughts on “Paperbag Poetry in First Grade

  1. Mrs. Hembree,

    You teach in such a creative way! I’m sure the kids learned a lot and I loved the poetry. I think we’ll try to write our own poetry at home this month using your idea.


    • Dear Judy,
      I try to find ways to teach my students that will excite them about learning. The third graders are also going to be doing something fun! You will have to ask Josa about it next week.
      I LOVED Home on the Brave! Thank you so much for letting me borrow your copy. I am going to buy one for myself and the library. Hopefully I will be able to get it signed on Monday!
      Have fun writing poetry!
      Mrs. Hembree

  2. Dear Mrs.Hembree,
    OK you were wondering why I didn’t enter because I did but I lost the paper. I forgot to ask my teacher to get a new one. But it was a cool idea.
    From Alex.

  3. Dear Mrs Hembree,

    I just think this is a wonderful way to write a poem. For when I was at primary school, to get us to write a peom my teacher would pick 5 to 6 words and we would have to write a peom with those words.

    It was always fun to hear what the other children wrote with the 5 to 6 words which the teacher had picked for our poem. Your Bulldog readers had some great describing words. Some how I feel that your Bulldog readers are going to write some awesome poems. I can’t wait to read some of them.

    Mrs Hembree I had a smile on face when I read that you stayed at the Bulldog Hotel. 🙂
    I just found out that you are going to be meeting Mrs Morris wow this is great somehow I know that your are going to have a wow of a time.

    From your pal down under,

    • Dear AA,
      I love the idea of giving students 5-6 words and writing a poem using them. What kind of words did your teacher give you? Do you remember? I might want to try that idea with one of my classes.
      When I was little, I wrote lots of poems. They are started with Roses are Red, Violets are Blue!
      I can’t wait to meet Mrs. Morris and Mrs. Yollis! It is going to be the best mini-vacation to San Diego!
      Mrs. Hembree

  4. @ Mrs Hembree,

    Good morning from down under! Unfortunately I don’t remember the words for the poem which my teacher gave us, as it was a long time ago but somehow any words would do.

    Yes I like poetry too as a matter of fact you reminded me of my little sister, for she would write poems all the time too. 🙂

    You are so right you are going to have a wonderful time when you meet up with Mrs Yollis and Mrs Morris. Here is hoping that one day BB and I will be able to meet you too.

    From your friend,

  5. Dear Mrs Hembree,
    I just love your new post it is awesome.

    That was an awesome idea Mrs Hembree of putting some things in the bag and the Grade One students had to describe some things about the thing they were touching.

    My cousin and I were playing teachers and my cousin thought of a poem and it was an excellent poem.

    But you will have to find more about poems in my new post.

    From your pal,

    • Dear BB,
      I used to play teacher when I was a girl too! We have something else in common! I will look forward to reading some new poems. I hope you have a fantastic birthday!
      We have had fun learning about poems in our classes!
      Mrs. Hembree

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