April is National Poetry Month!

This month is to celebrate and encourage the reading, writing, and teaching of poetry throughout the world. In celebration of this month, we have a few lesson ideas to combine the wonderful worlds of poetry and coding with your class.

First things first, you may be wondering, “why use coding to teach poetry?” Poetry and code surprisingly have a lot in common, and they both allow students to be creative! Students often find poetry confusing, and even scary, but it doesn’t need to be that way! Combining coding and poetry can make poetry approachable and even less overwhelming, and also make poetry fun and engaging. Using more visual forms of coding such as Scratch can also provide students an opportunity to bring their poems to life through the power of code.

Below you will find several lesson ideas to allow your class to explore the worlds of poetry and coding together. All of the ideas below can be done in just one literacy block, however, feel free to try out more than one option throughout a poetry unit. After all, you have the entire month of April to celebrate the art of poetry as a class!

Explore LoveBits

This is a great introductory tool to introduce students to coding and poetry without requiring the students to do any coding yet, making it perfect for complete beginners. LoveBits works to demonstrate that coding is just like any other language, and it can even be
used poetically!

What is so interesting about using code poetically is that this code is actually designed for humans to understand more than it is for the computer to understand, which is really flipping programming on its head! Each LoveBits poem has a small snippet of code that is written in such a way that it is supposed to be understood by people who are not familiar with programming; the only requirement is the English language.

The small snippet of code provides the poem, and when students click play, they will get to interact with the poem themselves.

Ada’s Poetry Generator                                                                                                                                                            https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/78692754

Ada Lovelace is often regarded as the first computer programmer, and also the daughter of the poet Lord Byron. This Ada Lovelace poem generator allows students to remix the Scratch code and generate their own random poems. Students can choose a theme for their poem and create their own lists of verbs, adverbs, nouns, and adjectives to generate their own unique poems that fit with their chosen theme.

The full lesson plan made by Code Club can be found here.

Animated Art                                                                                                                                                            https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/304045567

Using a visual coding platform like Scratch, have students create a poem (or use a poem they have already written earlier in the month) and then bring it to life with code! Students can create an animated image or a full animation complete with characters and dialogue to present their poem.

Check out this example “Lily Pads”:

This is such a fun activity because not only do students get to create their own poem, they also can add interactivity, animations, or other custom artwork to really bring it to life in a way that isn’t possible only using pencil and paper, which adds another creative element to their work.

Animated Spoken Word

When exploring spoken word poetry with students, sometimes the thought of needing to present their poem to the class can be extremely stressful. Creating an animated spoken word allows for students to explore the world of oral poetry while helping to remove some of the stress of needing to perform their poem. Using the “sounds” code blocks in Scratch, have students record themselves reading their poem. Then, they can create an animation to add a visual element to their spoken word and use their recorded sound code block throughout their program to present their spoken word.

Writing Poetry in Python

Once students have some more experience with block coding language such as Scratch, remixing some code in another language such as Python can be a great next step to develop their skills. This Beat Poetry Generator is an excellent option to introduce students to a new coding language!

Have students remix this Python Trinket to create their own generative poems. Students can not only change the adjectives, nouns, and verbs to customize their own poems, but they can also make adjustments to the structure of the poem or even code more verses as they gain more confidence exploring this new language

What is Remixing Code?

Many of these example activities ask students to remix existing code. Remixing code is when you take code that someone has already created and make changes to it for your own purposes.
Is remixing still coding if I am starting with someone else’s work? Yep! Remixing is still coding, just remember the point is to make your project different from the original! Otherwise, we are just copying someone else’s work.
Remixing can be used as a tool to practice coding and learn valuable troubleshooting skills without students needing to be advanced coders. Plus, it can be inspiring for students to explore more advanced code and get a chance to see what is possible for them to create!


And those are our 5 Coding & Poetry activities for you to explore during National Poetry Month.

If you implement one of these projects in your classroom, be sure to tag us on Twitter or Instagram @stemminds so we can see what you and your students have created. Happy coding!