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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Poetry Made Easy -Black Out & Book Spine Poetry


Do you groan when a teacher tells you that you are going to have to write a poem?

 Does the idea make your stomach twist itself inside and out?

Do you want  to run screaming out of the classroom screaming,





Are you the poetry cheering section screaming,

“YES! I love Poetry and FINALLY I get to write something I LOVE?”

 I recently found two types of poetry that help both the lovers and haters of poetry!

 Book Spine Poetry and Black Out Poems







Book Spine Poems are made with book spines!  They are very easy to create!

1–Find some book titles that interest you.

2–Stack them on top of each other.

3– Mix and re-arrange until you have the combination that works for you.

4–Voila! You are a poet! 

I found out about this idea from another blogging librarian, Travis Jonker, who was inspired by the artist, Nina Katchadourian.  The rest is history!

Here are some Bulldog Readers Book Spine Poems!


Bulldog Reader Book Spine Poems
Bulldog Reader Book Spine Poems


The second kind of poem that we tried are called Blackout Poems. Austin Kleon is the inventor of the blackout poems. They started quite by accident.  Graduated from college and suffering from a bad case of writer’s block, Austin started playing with newsprint and crossing out words he didn’t like. The leftover words became a new style of poems!

To make a blackout poem all you need is a newspaper, a marker and you are ready.

 1–Find an articleIMG_0357


2–Outline the words you like

3–Cross out the ones you don’t likeIMG_0358

4–Admire your poem!






What kind of poems do you like to write?

Have you ever tried to make a Book Spine Poem?

What about a Blackout Poem?

Leave us a comment and let us know!




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