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Newspaper Blackout Poetry



Publisher: Harper ISBN: 978-0061732973

Austin Kleon is an inspiring contemporary poet. He uses newspaper articles from the New York Times as unique canvases for creating his verse. The first thing I wanted to do, after trying it out myself, was to see if the older children I teach would find this technique successful and worth exploring.

We began by visiting the official website, where the children could read examples by Austin and view poems shared by fans using his method. As we watched a short interview with the poet, I could see that the boys in particular were itching to give it a try. "This is cool, have we got newspapers?"

They were immediately hooked. 

I think the most daunting thing for a child who wants to write creatively is a blank page. So white, so empty, so demanding. As a teacher, finding ways to make the planning process less of a struggle is wonderful and Kleon's technique scaffolds.

Using the newspaper, children with a limited vocabulary are exposed to words, in context, that they can use directly in their poem. I used a type of modelled writing to show the children how I used the method myself, carefully talking through the entire process. Then the children worked in pairs, or alone if they preferred, to create their own blackout poems.

We also did this a few weeks before the children were doing a unit on writing newspaper recounts, so this was a great opportunity to talk about headlines, sub-headings and columns etc. My socks were blown off when I read the results. Some children even used this as an opportunity to incorporate simile and metaphor - techniques we'd previously explored!!!

You'll need to provide a stack of newspaper articles- careful with content ;), black sharpie pens or permanent markers and scissors.

Picture 001

In the process of modelling....

Picture 008
and one child's blackout poem:


get a new


and dad


    The boys, who

had a 

terrible  kid


ran   from

                their parents



Picture 009
Here you can see how one child has used the end 's' sound, the word a, and the next capital letter 'T' to create "sat" - this one poem is so intense. 

I just wish I'd taken more photographs of these... make sure you do!! I'm sure Austin would love to have more contributions to his site!



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Slope Unblocked

A very excellent blog post.Thank you so much for such a well-written article.

Vanessa Candle

Thank you a lot for this awesome article!

Samantha Williams

Can someone suggest how to do this for high school?




Thanks for making such a cool post which is really very well written.will be referring a lot of friends about this.Keep blogging

best essay writing service uk reviews

Thanks. You share some great tips here, it really helps a lot of people making this type of blackout poem.


Love black out poems so cool and spooky with such few words!!

Hayter Redding

Yeah this is such a good idea (clipping words from a newspaper in order to produce a poem or any of the same nature) Gonna share this to my literature class, I'm sure my students would love this idea!


A great way to make playing with words and making poetry fun!

Melissa Taylor

Had to share with my readers --

Melissa @imaginationsoup

This looks so delightful and creative - I can't wait to try it with kids!


Thanks! My kids are four and two and I think that I would need to modify it a bit. It's given inspiration for sure. I am going to get our newspaper out of the recycling, cut words, and glue them. If it ends up a poem, great. If not, we will practice reading. Sounds fun!


Thanks for that idea, will give it a try! :)

Book Chook

I've got that site bookmarked somewhere and am delighted to revisit it, and more importantly, to discover it works with younger kids!

It reminds me of a similar activity I would do where I would read a poem several times and each time, the kids would jot down standout phrases, words, their own or the poet's. Then I would give them time to use those snippets to create a poem of their own. So much less scary than starting from nothing. And the results were something we all could enjoy and admire. Maybe your kids might like to give it a go?

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