Blackout poetry is SUCH AN EASY WIN. It gives kids a chance to pull poems right out of a text like magic. Along the way, they discover that poetry isn’t as intimidating as they thought.
Blackout poetry is a great activity with no particular guidance, but it can also be a fun way to hone in on themes, tone, mood, or characterization in a particular piece.
Today, let’s take a visual tour of how you might use blackout poetry with pages from Edgar Allan Poe’s works to explore his spooky choices.
First, kids can create the poems, then you can give them time in a gallery walk to view each other’s work, and then in small groups, pairs, or as a class, you can all discuss what they notice about Poe’s language after seeing it spotlighted through blackout poetry. Bring up tone, mood, imagery, and themes, and let students point to blackout poems that help to illuminate these devices.
I created my model in Canva, but you could also have students work on paper. All you need are screenshots or photocopies of pages of Poe’s work.
The guiding steps are simple (you can sign up for a free guiding handout below and save yourself the trouble of making one).
Students start by reading through the text and lightly underlining or circling words that intrigue them. At this point, they’ll probably start to think through a guiding theme of some kind for their poem.
On the next read, they’ll want to start adding connector words that can bind the key words together. Maybe an “and” here and an “I” there, a “you” here and a “the” there. As lines start to take shape, they’ll also eliminate some of the words they circled before that don’t quite fit.
At this point, they can create a quick version of their poem on another piece of paper (or doc) and see if they like how it flows. They can scratch any final words that don’t make the cut or add any final connectors.
Now it’s time to blackout the words they don’t want. If they’re using Canva, they’re about to get very friendly with the black rectangle shape.
On paper, it’s Sharpie time. But if they’re on paper, and you’d like for them to add some complementary sketches, they should add those in around their poem BEFORE blacking out all the text. Then they can be careful to avoid their sketches.
On Canva (or Slides), it’s easy to add the images on top of the black. Once their poem is complete, they can start to overlay graphics to complement their work.
Save a section of wall to display these! Kids can hang them up for you for the gallery walk before your discussion of mood, tone, characterization, setting, themes, etc. and then you can leave them up through the season.
You can sign up for my quick and easy instructions for blackout poetry below. When you use this form to subscribe to my weekly idea emails, the first thing to arrive in your inbox will be a guide to help your students create their own blackout poems!
Good luck with your spooky Halloween poems! I’d love to see them if you’re in the mood to tag me on Insta, @nowsparkcreativity.