Creating Found Poetry From Picture Books

Lesson Authors: Barbara Groome; Jo Peterson Gibbs

Subject: Language Arts; Writing

Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8

Overview: Student will identify poetic elements and strong word choice in a picture book to create "found poetry" based on the picture book.

Learning Objectives:

The learner will:

  • respond to various literary genres using interpretive and evaluative processes

  • apply conventions of grammar and language usage

  • recognize poetic elements

  • practice creating found poetry

Time Required: 5 hours (5 class periods)


  • an ample supply of picture books from your Media Center. This lesson uses My Great Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston as a sample

  • pencil, paper, solid colored paper, colored pencils

  • large sheets of paper  (the size of poster board)

  • Markers

Technology Resources: Internet sources could be used to locate a concise list of frequently used poetic elements if you do not have one readily available.



Knowledge of Poetic Elements: Students should have a base knowledge of locating poetic elements in poems and using poetic devices in their own writing.

Found Poetry: Tell students that "found poetry" is simply poetry that is found in any writing that inspires a reader to create his/her own thoughts in poetic verse.

It is acceptable to use the picture book author's language, images, and observations about life.

Although the writer may draw on the language of the author and rearrange it and add language of their own, they ultimately create new poetry (which is the students' own work).


Class Period #1

  1. Teacher introduces the concept of "found poetry" to the students. "Found" poetry helps students identify the author's style through word choice and poetic elements.

  2. Teacher walks students through their poetry-writing project by first reading for pure enjoyment the picture book, My Great Aunt Arizona, by Gloria Houston (or any favorite picture book of the teacher).

  3. Teacher places students into six groups and gives each group a large piece of paper and a marker. As he/she re-reads the picture story book, each group is to listen for and write down on their piece of paper the following information:

    • GROUP #1 - Setting - This group will take note of the setting and descriptive words (adjectives) the author uses to describe the setting of the story.

    • GROUP # 2 - Character(s) - This group listens for adjectives and phrases the author uses to describe the characters - both physically and personally.

    • GROUP # 3 - Plot - This group takes notes on the sequence of events and verbs used as the story is being re-read.

    • GROUP # 4 - Vocabulary/Word Choice - This group notes powerful words the author uses and writes them down on their paper.

    • GROUP # 5 - Repetition / Rhyming / Parallel Structures - This group listens for words, phrases or sentences the author repeats, as well as any rhyming the author uses throughout the story.

    • GROUP # 6 - Poetic Elements - This group listens for other poetic elements - such as similes, personification or hyperboles the author uses in the story.

    While the teacher is reading, it may be helpful for him/her to help the groups with their task as she reads the second time.

    After the second reading of the story, groups share their information and other students can help add to their notes. These large pieces of paper are then taped to the walls to refer to as the whole class creates a sample "found poem."

  4. On an overhead projector or white board, an eager student can write while the instructor orchestrates and students together create a "found poem" based on the story and notes from the groups. This may sound a bit unstructured, but students will "get into it" and you will be surprised by the poem you will create from the story and their notes!

Class Period #2

Now that the students have an understanding of a "found poem" and how to create one, students can be divided into pairs or small groups. Each pair will select a picture book to form the basis for their "found poetry." First, students should read the book for pleasure, and then next reread the book, taking notes on the story in each of the six categories, looking for words they want to be sure to include in their poem.

Class Period #3

  1. Students and teacher can create a rubric for the "found poem" before the poems are written. Here are some suggestions:

    "Found Poem" should:

    • reflect the picture book story
    • use some familiar language from the story
    • be concise
    • show student individuality and creativity
    • include at least four, well-developed stanzas of six to eight lines each

  2. Students begin writing their "found poem" in class. Once completed, poems are peer-edited.

Class Period #4

Students complete their peer editing, write their final poems on plain paper, and decorate their paper with images of the "found poem" they created.

Class Period #5

Students share their poems orally in class.


The teacher and students together create a rubric for assessing their "found poems." In addition, students in the audience may assess their peers both for the poem and the presentation. The instructor may use both the rubric and peer review in formulating a final assessment.

Supplemental Resources:

Wondrous Words: Writers and Writing in the Elementary Classroom by Katie Wood Ray, has good examples of picture books with strong word choice.

Teacher Comments: Students, even older student, love picture books. By giving them a chance to read them and creatively respond, students enjoy this opportunity to work together and share stories they love, yet at the same time, practice poetic writing.

This activity can also be used to study the word choice and poetic elements used by writers of prose fiction and non-fiction.

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©2004 Barbara Groome and Jo Peterson Gibbs
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