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How to Keep a Poetry Notebook

Updated on July 14, 2015

Compile your Favorite Poems into a Poetry Notebook

Notebooking is a simple learning technique by which students narrate what they've learned and form an organized portfolio of work. Any subject can be "notebooked," including poetry. Even though poetry may not be a daily topic of study in your homeschool, keeping a poetry notebook fosters an appreciation of poetry and establishes an easy way to review the poems you've studied and loved.

Poetry notebooks can contain copied poems, composed poems, illustrations for poems, analysis of poetry, and biographies of poets. And any age student can keep a poetry notebook -- from pre-K children up to high school students.

Poetry Notebooks for Pre-Writers and Beginning Writers

Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grades

At this age, poetry is merely rhyming play. Expose your children to Mother Goose rhymes, silly limericks, and traditional prayers. A child's natural love of rhythm and rhyme will naturally incline him to these lighthearted poems. Right now your goal is to establish a sense of rhythm and rhyme.

Photocopy or type and print poems that your child can cut out and paste into a notebook. Let the child illustrate the poem above or below the poem. Or you might find a two page spread for each poem a nice way to organize your poetry notebook. On the left, affix the poem, on the right, add an illustration. See Nellie Edge for some great photo examples of poetry pages from the lower elementary grades.

Ways for young students to interact with the poem:

1. highlight new vocabulary words

2. mark words with common spelling rules

3. highlight punctuation that is being studied

4. color code rhyming words

5. order the lines in the poem by arranging pieces of the poem

For introducing copywork without overwhelming a new writer, give him a copy of the poem with a few words omitted and have him add in just those few words. Or have him copy only the title and author of the poem.

In time, he can begin copying lines of the poem in manuscript. Happy Hearts Homeschooling Library has some free printable poetry copywork with manuscript lines which you can use for young elementary students.

A Metaphor About Poetry

Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes. ~Carl Sandburg

Poetry Notebooks for Intermediate Writers - Third Through Fifth Grades

Intermediate students need to be protected from the myth that "poetry is boring." Never let them think that by exposing them with poems they can comprehend and relate to. Humorous poems are always delightful and lay the foundation of a love of poetry. Choose serious poems about nature, animals, family, or daily life are easy for them to interpret.

At this stage, students can begin to use poems as copywork. Choose a short poem or break up a longer poem over the course of two or more days.Use lined paper in three ring binders or use composition notebooks. You may also want to use preprinted notebooking pages suitable for copying and illustrating poems. For example, the following three photos show a long poem "Twickham Tweer" that my then fourth grade daughter copied into her poetry notebook. She took several days to work on this, copying a stanza each day and illustrating it with her own style of cartoons.

By the way, the notebooking pages shown here come from's Basic Lined Notebooking Set. It is a resource I turn to again and again because of its versatility.

If you need some free options, try the all-purpose printables from The Notebooking Fairy.

You certainly can still use photocopies or printed poems in the poetry notebook as well, but slowly transition to doing more and more copying of the poems.

Choose a frequency for adding to poetry notebooks. It could be a weekly assignment or a monthly one or something in between. Sticking to a routine will build up your poetry notebook over time into something that is enjoyable to read.

Begin to introduce the most basic poetic terms without over analyzing the poems you read. For example, in the poetry notebook, a child can highlight similes, metaphors, personification, alliteration, and consonance.

In the intermediate grades, a child may become interested in composing his own poems. Of course, you want to encourage such creativity! I wouldn't force children to write their own poems unless you are giving them very clear frameworks such as diamante or cinquin poem forms.

Here are more poetry notebooking pages from intermediate grades.

The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury

The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury
The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury
Edited by the Children's Poet Laureate, Jack Prelutsky, the 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury is jam packed with hundreds of poems, classic and modern, all suitable for children.

Poetry Notebooks for Middle School and High School Students - Sixth Through Twelfth Grades

By the middle school years, your children should be able to point out the various poetic elements in poetry and the forms of poetry. How to Read a Poem is a great PDF with helps for thinking about a poem and a glossary of poetic terms to be sure to cover.

We have a reference minibook to help my daughter remember the basics of figurative language. It stays on the homeschool table alongside the pens and pencils for easy reference when needed.

In the high school years, a child should go beyond identification into analysis by writing about poetry and the figurative language used to compose it.

Here are two excellent resources that guide your child into writing about poetry at this advanced level:

1. How to Write About a Poem

2. Exploring a Poem

(You may have to register with this site to access the files. It's free.)

Studies of poets are another way to enrich a poetry notebook. Include basic biographical sketches of the poets you study. Instead of a pell mell selection of poems, try focusing on one poet per term. The Poetry for Young People Series (linked below) is a great resource for this kind of study since each book gives several of the poet's best known poems.

Read practical examples of high school poetry lessons which incorporate notebooking at Harmony Art Mom's blog.

For poetry notebooks at this level, students can omit illustrations if they dislike art or they can make them more elaborate if they do like art. Some children may want to create fancy scrapbooking layouts or make multimedia collages like the page pictured below.

Poetry for Young People Series - Books for Poet Study

Poetry for Young People: Edward Lear (Volume 12)
Poetry for Young People: Edward Lear (Volume 12)
This poetry series includes themes such as animal poems, American poems, and seasons and poets such as Alfred Lord Tennyson Carl Sandburg, Edgar Allan Poe, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Emily Dickinson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow , Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Lewis Carroll, Robert Frost, Robert Browning, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, Wallace Stevens, Walt Whitman, William Blake, William Butler Yeats, William Carlos Williams, William Shakespeare, and William Wordsworth. Read a brief endorsement of this series at Canadian Home Learning. These colorful books make great spines for a term-long poetry study of a single poet.

What About You?

Do Your Children (Students) Keep Poetry Notebooks?

See results

Free Poetry Books - Ebooks in the Public Domain

Many excellent poetry anthologies are in the public domain and can be downloaded for free. Using a Kindle or other ebook reader makes accessing these books for homeschool lessons very easy.


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    • Mark Tulin profile image

      Mark Tulin 

      2 years ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Not a poetry teacher, but it resonated with my keeping a journal in high school.

    • blessedmomto7 profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for this resource!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Ooh- great idea! We love to read poetry out loud- silly and serious to each other!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lense Jimmie!

      I have not been diligent to introduce my elementary and preschool children to poetry. I feel somewhat out of my element with poetry. But teaching it in simple steps with notebooking seems like it is doable and I would love to give this a try with my kids. Thanks for putting this together.

    • Barb McCoy profile image

      Barb McCoy 

      9 years ago

      Wonderful lens on a subject I have come to enjoy with my boys. :)

    • ZenandChic profile image


      9 years ago

      Wonderful lens! I am blessing it and putting it on my poetry review angel lens!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Attractive lens, great project for children.


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