Virtual Scavenger Hunt Poem: Word Bank Poetry Prompt

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”
-Steve Jobs

As a high school writing teacher, I am constantly looking for new ways to help my students find inspiration. While my creative writing students come to class prepared to create, sometimes encouraging my 9th grade English students to tap into their creativity is a challenge. This is especially true when I ask them to write poetry.

To help free up writer’s block and self-doubt, I tell my students that for their first draft I will not assign a letter grade for a poem but will give credit or no credit. If they turn it in, they get a certain number of points and if they do not turn in a poem they get a zero. The only stipulation is that the poem must be approximately twenty lines long.  Over the years I have found that this method helps immensely because my reluctant writers do not feel the pressure of completing the “perfect poem”. To my delight, by the end of our poetry unit, many of my students who did not see themselves as writers (or poets) become confident in their ability to experiment with language and record the world with a new genre.

In addition to taking away the pressure of letter grades until they turn in a revised poetry portfolio, I have fashioned a wide array of writing prompts to keep in my teacher toolbox. These prompts serve as a springboard to help generate creative and critical thinking. Many students dislike being assigned a specific subject to write about so I like to keep my poetry assignments wide open and full of potential. I tell my teenage writers that they have poetic license to alter the prompt in any way that they deem fit.

The following assignment is one that I have been employing for at least ten years and it is one that my students have found a lot of writing success. The concept is simple – I supply a word bank and the students use a computer as a tool to help draft a poem. I tell them to choose at least ten words from the provided word bank that they find intriguing (they can change their mind later).

Students who prefer to compose their poems on paper can simply use the computer to look up the words and use a notebook or journal to transcribe their verse.

I then instruct them to use their favorite search engine to look up the chosen words. They may decide to browse a number of sites and add in more search terms to narrow the results (for example: the word pearl may render up the term: cultured pearl.  They may then enter cultured pearl into a search engine to conduct some research).

I recommend that they also search images on the computer. This method words well for students who tend to be more visual learners.

The goal is to write a line or two of poetry from each word. As they continue to work their way down the list of words the poem may assemble naturally or they may have to rearrange the lines after. I usually give them two days to work on the poem in class. The first day I encourage them to focus on coming up with a line or two inspired from each word and on the second day to try to string together their lines.

The connections that they make between the words, research, and their experiences is compelling. It is exciting to have the students share their poems with each other and discover that while they were all given the same list of words, they each have their own unique piece of writing.

When I make my word banks I simply use words that I think sound poetic and have promise. An alternative would be to pluck words from a body of work that you are using in class (think Shakespeare, Greek mythology, a novel you are reading) and let the students research and create poetry at the same time. After all, don’t you agree that some of the most productive lessons are ones where we trick our students into learning? I love to hear the phrase, “I really had fun today!” as students trickle out into the hallway when the bell rings.

Since many of my creative writing students take my course multiple times throughout their high school career, I have four different versions of the word bank that I rotate between. Today I will share one of the word banks with you. I will post a printable version below.

Virtual Scavenger Hunt Poem: Word Bank Poetry Prompt

  1. umbrella
  2. lark
  3. cake
  4. mutiny
  5. moss
  6. phosphorescence
  7. carbon
  8. migrant
  9. hiss
  10. salt
  11. constitution
  12. torque
  13. prairie
  14. messenger
  15. ashes
  16. parlor
  17. propagation
  18. stem
  19. brocade
  20. forge
  21. pearl
  22. Hamlet
  23. lentil
  24. fennel
  25. calibrate
  26. cobalt
  27. grim
  28. velvet
  29. coniferous
  30. reel
  31. ore
  32. slug
  33. Circe
  34. current
  35. rural
  36. flora
  37. dogma
  38. Caesar
  39. pillar
  40. font
  41. amber
  42. turnip
  43. luxury
  44. dragonfly
  45. clutch
  46. plunder
  47. lotus
  48. squall
  49. ember
  50. ringlet
  51. Tiresias
  52. blanch
  53. cauldron
  54. grain
  55. Strait of Gibraltar
  56. pigeon
  57. reed
  58. imperialist
  59. calcium
  60. Michelangelo
  61. artifact
  62. lyric
  63. cargo
  64. landscape
  65. braid
  66. Ovid
  67. steel
  68. cashew
  69. gold
  70. lure
  71. root
  72. lake
  73. Venus
  74. Picasso
  75. April
  76. kingdom
  77. cuticle
  78. branch
  79. filter
  80. plastic
  81. vibrate
  82. crescendo
  83. valley
  84. tremulous
  85. charcoal
  86. frieze
  87. sculpture
  88. dash
  89. fracture
  90. teal

Printable version —> Virtual Scavenger Hunt via glitteranddoghair

I hope that this post helps inspire your students – or your own writing. I would love to hear back how this activity worked and if you made any modifications.

Thank you for stopping by and helping me create and appreciate a sometimes messy, but always beautiful life. ❤

 

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