This activity works well after a poetry unit has been introduced. Use the poetry folders to fill any excess time during class.
Create at least twice as many folders as there are students in your class. Number each folder and place within the folder a statement that explains the form of poem that will be written along with a prompt. Prompts can be a specific topic such as a season, place, event, or person. It can also be a picture or item provided by the teacher such as pressed leaves, a penny, or a magazine cutout. Some prompts can be "free prompts" that allow students to choose their own subject.
Examples of Prompts:
1) Find examples of two concrete poems and place them inside a folder with the definition of a concrete poem. Instruct students to write a concrete poem on the subject of their choice.
2) In the folder, include a statement reminding students of the importance of the five senses in the creation of poetry. Include a magazine cutout of an outdoor scene such as a serene lake, snowy forest, or sandy beach and instruct the students to write a poem about the scene that appeals to the five senses.
3)Paste a penny inside the folder and ask the students to write a poem in free verse describing the life of the penny. Remind the student what constitutes free verse poetry and require that their poem be at least fifteen lines.
4)Include a prompt that asks the student to write a poem that describes an object without naming the object. Have the student entitle the poem with the name of the object.
5)Include in the folder a piece of colored construction paper. Write a prompt that asks the student to write a poem about what comes to mind when they see that color. Entitle the poem with the name of the color.
You get the idea, be creative with your prompts and enjoy the variety of poems that are created by your students. Don't be afraid to use a prompt more than once but with a different item, picture, etc.
Place poetry prompt folders in a box in a central location in the room. Provide each student with a blank folder to hold each of their own poems that they create. Have those folders stored with the prompts. Ask students to periodically share some of their poems.
This activity is a great way to always have a constructive activity that occupies "free time" particularly when students work at a different pace. Set a due date for students to turn in a minimum number of completed prompts. Perhaps provide extra credit for those that complete extra prompts.