Work on Writing: Poetry Pan Centers

April is National Poetry Month and a favorite of mine is to work with poems of all shapes and sizes to give students a broad sense of what "poetry" is.

Something that is always a hit in my classroom are "Poetry Pans" and I am excited to share several variations with you that have helped us not just with poetry, but with story-making as well!

First up, I am loving the pizza pans from Walmart that are less than $1 and are not too deep, but offer a tiny lip to keep the magnets inside. No matter what the project, they will work beautifully and won't break the bank! They also offer a rectangular sheet as well, but circles are so much more fun, amIright!?

There are several ways you can incorporate magnets for this center. First up is with the pre-made magnet kits. There are tons of versions available, but I prefer to stick with the kid versions to ensure that I won't have any surprise words pop up and that every word is easy to understand.

Kids' Poetry Kit

This is what makes an appearance every April. There are tons of magnets in this kit, so a minilesson is definitely in order when bringing these out since they can easily be lost!

What's fun about this kit is that it includes tons of suffixes, which is hit pretty hard in third grade, so you keep your students accountable for having the poetry "make sense" by adding the correct endings to fit the phrase. For example, you can see how the letter "y" is added on top of the word "gentle" to make the word "gently".

This will no doubt be a popular center, so if you do want to make the words available to two students and get them each a pizza pan, it works. I have them work independently, but share the box of magnets. This kit is a bit pricey, so I only have one available, although you can sometimes get them on sale or for a bit cheaper on Amazon HERE.

Since our Writing Groups time is about 20 minutes, I have them work on the magnets for about ten minutes, writing what they created for about five minutes, and then clean up for the last five minutes. I am always in Teacher Time, so I can't monitor these increments strictly, but by the end of third grade, after a year of this routine and time schedule, it is very doable for the kids to be responsible.

The poems can be funny or serious or a mixture of both. Because there are hundreds of magnets, each time a student works on the center they can come up with new and unique poems. They probably don't have time to read through and organize a long, long poem, so I often suggest they get the first line or two of a poem that they can finish on their own later. In my class, this works more for an idea-generator, but depending on your schedule, you could have students create full-fledged poems during their writing time!

Story-Maker Kit

This is another fun way to incorporate magnets in a pre-made package that is easy for you and your students, plus is a guaranteed way to get even your most reluctant writer writing!

These are the Story Maker Magnets and, as you can see, they come in a variety of colors depending on their element. Characters are in blue, actions are in red, places and times are in yellow, and connecting phrases are in green. There are so many hilarious possibilities, this may be the perfect way to generate ideas at the beginning of the year or create silly end-of-year stories for when your kids swear they are out of ideas.

While these don't make poems themselves, they can easily lend themselves to ideas for poems that are written in more of a story format, so you can really use these throughout the year for any purpose.

These, too, are a bit pricey, so keep your eyes peeled for sales and on Amazon, which is why I also only have one set. These are a big hit and you won't regret the purchase, though :)

Make Your Own

Since these do cost some money and sometimes just one kit isn't enough, I did want to share one idea that has helped in years past. It doesn't seem to be as durable as these kits, but the potential to personalize them, as well as the reduced cost, may be worth it for you!

Have you heard of magnetic paper?

Avery has a set and the big box stores have their own line as well. For around $10 you can get 5 sheets (8 1/2 x 11") that will work with your ink jet printer. Simply type in the words or poem or sentences in a word processing program and print. Once they dry, you can cut them out and use them in exactly the same way as the pre-made sets, but having saved some money!

These are great for:
  • Reconstructing a class poem or poem(s) that you want them to memorize
  • Reconstructing a poem that is a class-favorite-- you can have a laminated copy of the real poem, then a baggy full of the cut-apart poem and kids will work to reconstruct it
  • Printing words in different colors to make your own story-maker magnets

There are lots of possibilities and I have found these sheets to be durable enough to last through lots of use!

Have you used these magnetic sets or sheets before? I'd love to hear other ideas for these in the comments below!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Sorry, for deleting. I had a typo. :)

    This is an incredible idea! I can see SO many variations for writing using the pans and magnets! I will DEFINITELY be using this next year!

    The Lesson Chef

    1. Yay! So glad this could give you some ideas-- the pans are so versatile and fun, your kids will love them, too! Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend :)

  3. Love this idea! I will definitely try this one as a word work station during Daily 5 :) Thanks!


  4. What a great way to make poetry fun! Thanks for sharing!

    The Blossoming Teacher

  5. I have GOT to try that magnetic paper! Such a great idea!!! I have some magnetic words...and I have to really monitor when we use them because the kids get soooo silly and forget to make real sentences! I'm gonna have to do more training with them! Thank you for always inspiring me in your posts - I love the idea of using them for poetry

  6. This is an amazing idea! I have a child in my class who is just learning English and I think this would be a fun way to help him with his sentence construction and vocab! Thanks!