For this poetry activity, our youngest students had the opportunity to turn the abstract concept of emotions into something concrete and tangible by using colors and their five senses to describe a feeling.

I’ve seen several versions of this activity floating around the web (here and here, for starters) and actually did it with several classes last year for poetry month, too. It went pretty well as a stand-alone activity, but this year I wanted to give students more ideas to chew on first instead of jumping directly into the writing.

We began by reading Dr. Seuss’s book My Many Colored Days:

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Although Dr. Seuss wrote the text of this book in 1973, it wasn’t published until 1996, five years after his death–but I’m sure My Many Colored Days would have been one of my childhood favorites if it had been around when I was a kid! I love how each page represents an emotion using different colors and animals, and the illustrations are simply beautiful.

The second book we read was Margaret Miller’s My Five Senses:

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In this book, Miller uses simple text and vivid photographs to describe how we use our five senses to experience the world around us. As we read the book together, we discussed how we could use describing words to tell how something looks, sounds, smells, tastes, and feels–dark shadows, noisy firetrucks, fresh flowers, sweet watermelon, rough sand.

Now that our brains were full of emotions, colors, and sensory words, we were ready to write! Each class picked from a menu of emotions (happy, sad, angry, afraid, confused, silly, surprised, and sleepy) that I put together on Padlet:

screenshot of our emotion poem Padlet - click to visit!
screenshot of our Padlet – click to visit!

I created a Google Presentation for each emotion to use as a template, and then we wrote our poems together as a class with students suggesting ideas while I typed.

If students seemed stumped, I made suggestions like “Do you think angry would be smooth? Rough? Soft? Hard? Bumpy? Spiky?” or “Would happy taste more salty, bitter, sour, or sweet? What kinds of things make your mouth feel happy?”

I also nudged the kids towards some basic similes, which gave their poems some great imagery–and also gave more students an opportunity to contribute to the writing.

Now that you know how we did it, I hope you enjoy reading about our many colored feelings!