Poetry and the Arts

Poetry and the Arts: Music, Art, Dance, Theater


Annotated Articles:


Feinberg, R. (1979). Poetry theater--Integrating drama and poetry. Retrieved from ERIC database.


The author explains a day-by day unit for teaching theater with poetry.  In this version, students work in small groups to choose a poem, usually with an assigned theme (which could relate to another content area topic!).  Then they delegate responsibilities for reading specific lines, or deciding which lines should be read together.  Most importantly, students decide how to convey the meaning of the poem through their movements and the expression of their voices.  This type of project could be extended with a final presentation and follow-up discussions.  If theater class is not a special subject area in your district, this lesson could easily be incorporated into an E.L.A class as well.   




Parks, M. (1994). Match poetry to painting. Instructor (Nov/Dec), 30. 


This is an idea for a lesson suitable for intermediate grade children and older who can write haiku style poetry.  It recommends integrating poetry with art, to have children write a haiku and paint a traditional Japanese sumi-e illustration to accompany the poem.  Both art forms traditionally capture a scene or idea as concisely as possible.  A description of both haiku and sumi-e artforms is included in the article.  Though not mentioned in the article, it could be wonderful to incorporate this project within a social studies unit on Japan. 


Another useful source for this lesson is the following website:

 Japanese Sumi-e/Haiku

Here, they show this example:



Reilly, M.. (2008). Finding the Right Words: Art Conversations and Poetry. Language Arts, 86(2), 99-107.

This article is intended for upper-level teachers, though I think the principles would work well in the intermediate grades. The author had
students "discuss" an important, complex issue (refugee children from Africa) in response to a presentation. The non-verbal discussions took
place through partners painting together. Next, students had the opportunity to discuss the paintings as a class before composing
individual poems. First, the teacher modeled the poem-writing process using a computer and projection screen along with a think-aloud and
discussion. Students used their paintings to start writing about the images, and the author felt that referring to the images helped students
choose a "just-right" word more so than during typical writing assignments. Overall, she concluded that this project led to an increased
quality of writing. Again, it would be great to team with the art teacher for an integrated lesson.

Recommended Resources:


imagine songs

This website has poetry and music for students created by a teacher. My favorite part are the animated poems, such as "Big Words". I think it would be a good way to model the idea for students to create their own animated poems. They are also enjoyable to read.



Rebus Rhymes

This website has many traditional rhymes and many of them are accompanied by printable or online coloring pages.  This would be appropriate as an independent activity for younger children to reinforce poems learned or introduce traditional rhymes.  It could also be done in an art or computer class to learn about computer art.  The image below illustrates the rhyme/song "Five Little Speckled Frogs"

Five Speckled Frogs

 These animations show the "Three Blind Mice"!       



Smithsonian Folkways: Poetry and Music

This website offers recources for teachers that links music and poetry, though I would recommend it for older students.  It shows how the meter (stressed and unstressed syllables) in certain poetic forms, lends itself as lyrics to certain types of music.  For example, ballads, often called "story songs" are written as poems and can be set to music.  Another form is the blues stanza, first recognized as poetry most famously by Langston Hughes.  The forms are described by their characteristics and history.  Examples of poems and music are provided.   

A really nice pdf file explaining how to teach the lessons and other information is found at this link: