20+ Ideas, Web Tools & Resources to Help ELLs Compose Poetry

“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”

—Robert Frost

It is National Poetry Month, but year round students can enjoy learning from poetry. Different forms of poetry appeal to various age groups and literacy levels. All our students can discover poems that make them laugh, smile, or think. Additionally, teachers can find poems about any topic that help students make a deeper connection to the vocabulary and ideas related to the topic. Students can learn from the examples of poetry they consume to produce their own poems, which gives students the opportunity to experiment with language structures, rhythm, phrasing, figurative language, and literary devices.

General Poetry Resources

The following resources are filled with lesson ideas, activities, and generators to help students write various forms of poetry. You will also find websites with glossaries of poetic terms and devices so that students can try using these poetic devices in their writing. You will also find plenty of examples from various famous poets and examples of the different forms of poetry that are listed in this post.

The Poetry Machine is an awesome website with different poetry generators that walk students through the process of creating several different forms of poetry, including the ones listed below.

Storybird has a library of beautiful artwork created by professionals that students can choose from to create a poetry book. This is a great way to display all the poems they write in your class.

For additional free web tools for students to create and display their poetry check out the post, 5 Tools for Creating a Poetry Anthology with Your Class.

For lesson ideas, check out the ESL Library lessons How to Write a Poem and William Shakespeare.

The Academy of American Poets shares a database of thousands of poems, activities, videos, audio recordings, and other materials for teachers to browse and use!

Young Writers is a website with regular competitions for students and a poetry glossary with examples. Also find poetry collections and teaching materials.

Below find several poetry student interactives from Read Write Think, which is one of my favorite websites for helping students write in any genre.

Find printables, videos, and poems very young children will enjoy on the Shel Silverstein website.

Acrostic Poems

Acrostic poems are one of the simplest forms of poetry to write. Students choose a word and then write a poem with the first letter of each line spelling a word or phrase (ex. CATCurious Animal Tiny tiger). I usually have students begin with their names. Students simply find adjectives or create phrases to describe themselves. The poem does not have to rhyme and this is a great way for our students to get to know each other! For a challenge, students can also write acrostic poems where the last letters in the line spell out a word. Find a definition and examples here.

Read Write Think has an interactive that defines acrostic poetry, provides examples, and helps students create their own. Students can download their acrostic poems or email them.

Commaful is a very simple and free creative writing online tool that allows users to choose a background image from their library and easily type text on top of the image. Students will enjoy using Commaful to compose several different types of poetry, including acrostic poems. Students don’t have to register to create, publish, or share the link to their poems.

Buncee is a multimedia presentation tool students can use to animate all forms of poetry with stickers, images, audio clips, banners, and more. See this example of an Acrostic poem created with Buncee.

Blackout Poetry

This is one of the newest and most popular ways to get students to enjoy writing poetry. Give students newspapers, magazines, or other texts. Students scan the article and put brackets around anchor words or words that jump out at them. Then students take a black marker and blackout all the words in the text except those they earlier put brackets around. Blackout poetry was made popular by the famous author, Austin Kleon.

Introduce blackout poetry by showing students the video interview with Austin Kleon or How to Create a Newspaper Blackout Poem by Austin Kleon.

Check out several examples of Newspaper Blackout Poetry on Austin Kleon’s Tumblr. Students can pick out their favorites and then see if they can find these poems in their own newspapers.

K20 Learn has a great lesson plan creating blackout poems and lists more resources.

Here is another simple lesson plan to get students creating blackout poems.

Check out how to create blackout poems online with Google Docs in this resource by Eric Curts.

This video shows you how to create blackout poems online with Google Draw.

Magnetic Poetry

Magnetic poetry is easy and fun for learners! Students simply make poems from words they see on magnets. I have had students create magnet poems with cookie or pie pans and magnetic words. Students can also make their own set of magnetic words by writing them on a magnetic sheet and cutting them out. You can find magnetic sheets in the craft area of stores or at a craft store.

Students can also create magnetic poetry digitally using the Magnetic Poetry and Word Mover websites. Both are registration free. Another web tool where students choose words to create a poem is PicLits. Students pick a picture and then drag words onto the image from a list provided. Students can also create magnetic poems by using the free Google Drawing and Google Slide templates created by Shake Up Learning and Eric Curts.

Concrete Poetry

Concrete poems are shape poems. Students choose a shape and write phrases and adjectives to describe their feelings and thoughts about the shape. Check out any of these free shape cloud generators that make it much easier for students to create their shape poems:

Image Chef, Neoformix, and the Poem Generator are free shape generators where students can choose from a free library of shapes, type their words, and choose the shape. An image will be generated for them to download and print.

Word Art and Tagxedo are word cloud generators with several different types of fun shapes for students to choose. They can also color the fonts and styles of the words. A word cloud generator scatters the words inputted, but students can keep phrases together by adding a ~ between words. The words that are most repeated will also be much bigger than other words.

Diamante Poetry

Diamante poems are in the shape of a diamond and about two topics. It is a simple poem to write with only a few words, adjectives, and ing ending words. Read Write Think has an interactive that walks students through the process of writing this type of poem. Find a definition, the format, and examples here.


Haikus originate from Japan and are usually about nature. A haiku is a 3-line poem that follows a specific syllabic structure: line 1 is 5 syllables, line 2 is 7 syllables, and line 3 is 5 syllables. Find simple interactives for students to create their haikus on Read Write Think and the Poetry Machine.

What other resources do you recommend for teaching with poetry?

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