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Word for word

Do-it-yourself magnetic poetry kits make language come alive.

By Valle Dwight

Even kids who shy away from writing can’t resist composing poems, silly sentences, and short stories with magnetic poetry kits. When you make your own kit from scratch, you can up the fun factor by including phrases, names, and places that resonate with your children. They’ll learn about grammar and expand their vocabulary in no time!

The project: Creating a DIY magnetic poetry kit

Get ready: Practice your parts of speech

Sit down with the kids and come up with a list of words. This is an easy way to explain the parts of speech to them. Here’s a good starting point:

  • Nouns: Have them pick at least 25 to 30. This is a great way to personalize your set as they can include the kids’ school, street, town, pets, friends, etc.
  • Verbs: Encourage the kids to go beyond the mundane, though words like “is” and “was” will be important for the set. You should have as many verbs as nouns.
  • Adjectives: To be truly poetic, push them to think of descriptive words for their nouns. Don’t forget colors and numbers too.
  • Adverbs: These describe an action, such as “very” or “quickly.”
  • Conjunctions and articles: These little words (“and,” “or,” “the,” etc.) are the glue that holds sentences together, so make sure you include a bunch!

Make it happen: Get crafty with language

Now it’s time to create your literary magnets and unleash your kids’ inner Emily Dickinson — or Dr. Seuss.

  • Type the list of words on a computer and print them out or, for an even more personalized look, have the kids handwrite them. Make sure you leave space around each word so you can cut them out.
  • Stick the pieces of paper on magnetic tape (available at craft or office supply stores), trim them to fit, and you’re ready to start creating poems!
  • Keep a pad of paper close to your poetry set so the kids can jot down words they want to include. Every few weeks sit down with them and add to your word inventory.

Valle Dwight is a reporter, writer, and mother of two school-aged boys. She has written for many magazines, including FamilyFun, Wondertime, and Working Mother.

Comments from readers

"I love this Iam going to do this with my intervention students. It will become a favorite manipulative! Thanks, Stormey"