Black out poetry is my FAVORITE type of poetry. Students are really pushed to their creative limits and they LOVE it.
I think a huge reason why students love blackout poetry is because the words are already on the page. They don’t need to originate a thought or theme. They are required to work with what they’ve got, which can sometimes be more difficult than starting fresh, but it encourages a different level of creativity.
Materials for Teaching Black Out Poetry
- Old books, magazines, photocopied pages from a book or a screenshot of a book or article
- -Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
- A Pencil with an eraser
You really don’t need much to create a blackout poem. I don’t have many old books lying around that I feel comfortable ripping up, so I photocopied random pages from books or printed random articles and pages off the computer. It all works the same!
Steps for Teaching Black Out Poetry
Step 1: When I started the unit I really went on a whim and decided to just see what happened. I introduced black out poetry with a PowerPoint. In the PowerPoint I explained what a black out poem was and showed a ton of examples. You can find the powerpoint here. I suggest downloading KG Blank Space (a free font) so the PowerPoint looks extra cute.
I also pointed out two BIG things.
- The poem makes sense. (It’s not random words like cookie, the, yellow, okay).
- The poem went in one direction. Top to bottom, or bottom to top. The words can’t jump around (up, down, to the right and up, then back down). We just don’t read that way.
Step 2: Afterwards, I gave them random pages (you get what you get haha). I told them to circle words that stood out to them or words they liked. Don’t worry too much about flow yet.
Step 3: Go back and try to make your poem flow and make sense. Eraser words that don’t serve your poem and add words that you need. This make take kids time. Some kids got it immediately and some of them needed to have it modeled. It’s trial and error. (I thought it was interesting how many kids pushed through and created something and the ones that immediately wanted help – it was a great opportunity to encourage grit and pushing through difficulties).
Step 4: Once you’ve approved it – its time to black it out! Encourage them to be creative. They can create a drawing or just use a black marker. Totally up to them!
Additional Literacy Resources
If you’re interested in more resources and strategies for teaching reading in upper elementary, check out the following blog posts!