What’s Black and White and Red All Over? Newspaper Poetry for Middle School

Finding programs that are exciting for middle school students can be very difficult.  But, in my library we have a solid group of middle schoolers (grades 5 – 8) who participate in our community service organization (Junior Friends), who act in reader’s theatre and participate in book discussions too.  Each holiday season we host a holiday party for the kids with games, crafts, and of course lots of food!

This year I decided to try something a little different; newspaper poetry.  Now I know what you’re thinking… are middle school kids really going to be interested in creating poetry for fun?  Well, I have found that this group of kids love to be creative, enjoy creating crafts, and have amazing imaginations, so poetry for them is not too much of a stretch.

I threw together all the supplies before they came for the party and then let them loose.  All I needed was a bunch of old newspapers (we recycle ours at the library so I grabbed a huge stack from the recycle bin), I also grabbed scissors, glue sticks, some crayons, and construction paper in a variety of colors.  This was a great project because I already had everything in the library I needed and it took very little explanation.

With 25 kids in attendance, craft supplies were everywhere, but once they settled down with their newspapers, they were all hard at work.  Some kids were working by themselves, some in pairs or groups and I could here them calling out words they were looking for in hopes someone would help them.  This program worked really well because the kids were able to chat with friends while they worked and if I’ve learned anything working with middle school kids, it’s that they are very social!

We had other things planned for our programs so the kids had only about 20 minutes to work on their newspaper poetry, which definitely wasn’t enough time.  If I were to do this program again, I would create a poetry program (maybe during National Poetry Month) and offer the kids an hour of time to create their masterpieces with a little time at the beginning to show them some books in the collection about poetry as well as offer time at the end for sharing.  Some of the kids really enjoy being center of attention and I like to encourage this confidence when the kids gain a boost of confidence by receiving positive attention from peers and from adults in the community.  These poems could also be used as a display on a bulletin board for the library as well!

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Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is Laura Arnhold. Laura is a Children’s Librarian at the Upper Merion Township Library in King of Prussia, PA.  She’s lucky enough to work with kids from birth to eighth grade and has fun everyday!  When she’s not working, she loves to be in the kitchen cooking for friends and of course reading as much children’s literature as she can!  Laura can be reached at larnhold@mclinc.org

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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2 Responses to What’s Black and White and Red All Over? Newspaper Poetry for Middle School

  1. Amanda says:

    Hi Laura,
    You’re post doesn’t explain what newspaper poetry is or how you did it with the kids. Is it like blackout newspaper poetry? Magnetic-poetry-style collage? I would love to hear about it.
    Thanks!

  2. This is a terrific idea! I’m going to use it for our Make & Take Art Club project for April. Do you have any photos of the finished pieces to share? Did the participants take them home or did you post any at the library? Oh, I can’t wait to try this!

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