Are you a magnetic poetry person? I’ve got a kid-sized pizza pan on the wall of my office covered in little white word tiles. I like setting up a new bit of inspiration on there now and then, getting ideas from the random words scattered around the rim.
This week I set out to make a digital version of my pizza pan. With a cuter background.
Turns out, it takes a little time, but it’s not hard at all. And it’s actually soooo fun. Today I’m going to walk you through the three simple steps to creating your own digital magnetic poetry kit, which you can then adapt with new backgrounds and additional words for different times of the year. I’ll be showing you how I made my “Gratitude” themed kit with Thanksgiving in mind, but of course you could make yours based on any theme or idea you wish.
You can read on, or listen to the podcast episode on the player below or on your podcast player of choice.
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Step #1: Make your Words
This step is easy. It’s simplest to use Powerpoint or the free online design tool, Canva, because they both allow you to download a big set of images all at once.
In either tool, start by choosing a rectangular-sized canvas for your design. I set my page in Powerpoint at 5 inches by 2 inches for my long words, and opened another slide deck that was 3 inches by 2 inches for my short words. On each I dropped in a plain black-rimmed white rectangle with one word in black text filling the middle.
I then copied this slide over and over so I could just change the text on each slide.
Then I dropped in words relating to Thanksgiving and gratitude on the big rectangles (like “world,” “beautiful,” “grandpa”), and basic short words on the small rectangles (like “a,” “the,” “to”). This part takes a little while. It might be helpful to you to write a short poem about your theme and take a look at the words you used.
Once you have all your words in the rectangles, download the full set as image files – PNGs – for both the short and long words. Now you have two folders on your desktop filled with magnetic poetry!
Step #2: Make your Backgrounds
If you hang out here much, you know how I love using Canva to design lovely imagery
for curriculum. So you won’t be surprised that I designed the backgrounds for this poetry activity there. I knew I was eventually going to put the backgrounds and words together on a Google Slide that was 11 inches X 8.5 inches, so it would be printable. So I created a design in Canva with that size and started playing around with pretty fall-themed art on top of fall colors. I ended up with three pretty backgrounds in about five minutes.
Step #3: Put it all Together
Now you’ve got backgrounds and words, you just need to combine them. Open a Google slide and set up the slides to be the size you want
(matching the backgrounds you created in Canva). On the first slide, click on background and choose one of your images. Now comes the slightly tedious part of dropping in all the words you’ve created. You might want to listen to a podcast or have some fun Netflix on while you do it (The Queen’s Gambit is so good!).
Once you have all the words on your top slide, copy that slide so you have two. Then change the background on the second one to one of your other designs from Canva. Repeat until you’ve used up your backgrounds. You’ll need to drag your words around a little if your designs are quite different, so the words aren’t covering whatever graphic elements you’ve put on the slide.
Your activity is now ready!
This is a great activity for the day before a break, for early finishers, or to use as part of a poetry unit. All your students will need to do on their copies is choose their favorite slide and then start dragging and dropping. They can copy and paste any words they want to use more than once, and add their own text boxes if there are a couple of words they really want that aren’t there.
When they finish their poems, have them delete any words they didn’t use to help the poem pop out from the page. Then invite the kids to save their work as PNGs and drop them into a collaborative slideshow so everyone can see everyone else’s poetry. From here, you can also print some or all of the work for your classroom walls or a fun door display.
Sound like a plan? You’re ready to go!
If you’d like the gratitude digital poetry activity, I’m happy to send it your way. Sign up for my Friday emails below and I’ll send it along.