Poets have been making up words and phrases for centuries. Playing with words is what poetry is all about. Why not bring that into the classroom and get the students involved in making up words and playing with the language where there are very few rules. Spoonerism is when initial letters of words are interchanged to create new words. For example the phrase "A pack of lies," can easily be turned into "A lack of pies." By simply switching the /p/ and the /t/ we have a new phrase that is silly and fun. You can easily give students a well-known poem and have them recreate it by using spoonerism. Once the students have been able to play with the words you can have them act out the poem and perform them in front of the class. This is a great opportunity to tie the voice, tone, and expression all into the same activity to see if they students have really grasped the concept.
This last idea came to me after having played with the ideas of spoonerism. The first step is to brainstorm everyday objects that the students are familiar with. Then they will come up with clever, new names for these items. Once they have their new words, they will be creating a poem using their new words to replace the ordinary words. After the poems have been created, these too can be written on chart paper, performed in front of the class, and/or hung up to be shared with others in and out of the classroom.
Feel free to add other lessons and activities into your own poetry units. This is a chance for the students to play as they are learning. There are not right or wrong answers. Each child will amaze you with what they can do. It is also a great idea to put the students work up on a bulletin board. Call attention to all the great thinking and hard work that they are doing. You, as well as your students, will never look at poetry the same way. What once looked confusing and just words written on a page has now brought more meaning and life into the lessons in your classroom.