Turn a Poem Into a Poetry Word Search!

poetry word search

For some, poetry provides beauty and insight to the world. For others, poetry is vague and confusing. English teachers hope to instill a love of words in all of their students, and writing their own poems can help students understand the art form better. Making a poetry word search for students will help, too.

You can go the extra mile by making word searches with poems written by your students, or even a crossword puzzle. Start making word searches now, or take these three steps with your class.

Pro Tip: Word searches aren’t just limited to poetry. You can also use puzzles to help students learn keywords and concepts in classic novels, such as Animal Farm or To Kill a Mockingbird.

How to Make Your Own Poetry Word Search

There are many ways to incorporate poetry into word searches. In the steps below, you’ll learn how to students can make word searches out of poems they write themselves.

Step 1: Students Write Their Own Poems

First, your students need material to work with. It can be in blank verse, haiku, villanelle, sonnet, or other form. However, if you want to teach your students about different forms of poetry, you can also use word searches.

Example: Poetry Terms Word Search

Before students write their poems, make sure students understand the concepts behind their poems first, and the different kinds of poems available to them. This “Poetry terms” word search will give them ideas.

Example: Understanding Key Concepts and Styles

Or give students a word search like this one, and tell them to incorporate certain elements into their poem. If you want, make a similar word search including concepts and styles they must include in their own poems.

Example: Inspiration from The Greats

Then, once they have an understanding of what their poems should include, help your students find inspiration from famous poets and poems. This “Poetry Word Search” lists some of the greats.

Now it’s time to have students write their poem according to the lesson plan. Keep in mind that shorter poems may work better for Step 2. Otherwise, any poem would work well to cover thematic ideas.

Step 2: Transform Student Work into Poetry Word Searches

With My Word Search, it’s incredibly easy to make your own word searches. You only need to put in the key words, then the builder magically arranges all of your words into the grid. However, first you just need to decide what approach you want to take.

Here are a few options:

  • You create word searches for ALL student poems. If you have the time, you can make a word search for every student’s poem. You can have the students provide you with a list of keywords or put all words of the poem in the buolder. However, if you have a large class, this can be very time consuming.
  • Highlight select student poems. Next, it may be more beneficial to make word searches out of select student poems to highlight those who followed the directions of the assignment best.

Customize the Word Search Shape

You can also change the design or size of the word search to represent the literal and metaphorical aspects of the poem. For example, a poem about love might be in the shape of heart. A rebirth poem might have a flower to symbolize growth and new beginnings.

No matter if you end up with many word searches or just a few, the next step is to solve them.

Step 3: Solve Your Poetry Word Searches

There are three ways you can distribute word searches for students to solve:

  1. Print a PDF and provide paper copies for students to solve in class or at home.
  2. Embed a word search directly on your teacher website.
  3. Provide the puzzle link to students for them to solve online.

Step 4: Review and Discuss

Once everyone has solved the puzzles, now you can discuss poetry word searches in class.

For example, if a student wrote a well-constructed haiku, you can turn it into a word search and have students solve it. Then, have students identify what makes the poem a haiku. In addition to solving the word search, they could divide the syllabic stress within the word list.

Example: Haiku Word Search

This “Haiku Word Search” provides an example.

Do a similar exercise with any poem that follows other structures, like those with iambic pentameter or with other rhyme schemes. Then have students circle related words, like parts of speech or rhyming words, in different colors.

Comparing Poems

You can also have students compare the poetry word searches. Do they follow similar structures or thematic ideas? Do they contain similar vocabulary? What kinds of poems work better (or worse) as word searches and why?

By deconstructing a poem in iambic pentameter, for example, students might realize what it takes to find words for their own poems that fit the structure. Furthermore, which word searches and poems contained rhyming words? Which did not? Do all poems need to rhyme?

You might also discuss elements like why the poetry word search had a certain shape or size. Did it accurately capture the essence of the poem? Presuming the word search was made from a student poem, the student can discuss if the word search accurately captured the essence of their meaning.

Poetry Word Searches: Final Thoughts

Whether or not students end this exercise with a newfound love for poetry, they’ll gain a new appreciation for words, rhyme, thematic meaning, and poetic structure. Plus, they’ll feel proud to see their work featured in such a unique way.

Take it a step further by hosting a poetry slam for all of your students to participate in! Their word searches can also be featured in a program to highlight the other activities featured in the unit.

Make word searches or crossword puzzles for your class now, or have them solve other poetry word searches made by teachers like you.

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