Are you ready to wrap up your poetry unit with an illuminating activity? Look no further than these Poetry Glow Day activities. I’ll show you how something as simple as glow sticks can help you take your final poetry lesson plan from drab to fab! 

light up your poetry lessons with glow sticks

It’s no secret that social media can be an unhealthy accessory in our lives. Most of us spend too much time scrolling without meaning, comparing our everyday lives to the highlight reels of others, and feeling constant pressure to be doing more. However, not all aspects of social media are bad. In fact, many of my most cherished lesson plans have been the raving success stories they are because of a seed planted via social media. Like my poetry glow stations, for example. 

Amid my poetry unit a couple of years ago, I was scrolling IG after school one day when I thumbed past some ah-maz-ing glow day activities in a middle school science classroom. I couldn’t help but jadedly think, “Science has all the fun.” Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I looked for a way to bring that fun into the ELA classroom. I had just wrapped up poetry analysis using TPCASTT when I thought… this could make fantastic stations. And there’s already so much annotating to be done with poetry that it only made sense to… just turn off the lights? And just like that, I felt inspired to make our final poetry analysis glow.

If you feel that similar pull to add some spark to your poetry lesson plan, I’ll walk you through how to transform your classroom with a few black lights and neon highlights and create an exciting and engaging atmosphere for your poets. Your students will be pumped up about poetry and excited to dive deeper into analyzing poetic devices. So crack your glow stick and turn down the lights! Let’s get started.

The Glow-in-the-Dark Poetry Party Classroom Transformation

glow in the dark poetry lesson with equipment

Transforming your classroom into a glow-in-the-dark party can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be. A quick way to get started is by adding black lights and black tablecloths. Black lights emit ultraviolet light, which causes neon colors to “glow” in the dark. Black tablecloths just enhance the glow effect! I used two of these lights from Amazon. I would have loved to add more lights, but since it was an experiment, I didn’t want to propose the purchase to the main office just yet. 

Beyond that, add neon accessories like glow sticks, highlighters, neon posters, and neon paper. I used these fluorescent balloons and these glow sticks because they were inexpensive “party favors.” Finally, the neon posters added that “neon pop” to the classroom, and I just wrote the station numbers on them. Just be sure to try and get your room as dark as possible!

Paying for your supplies out of pocket is a drag, I know (especially when everyone is feeling the pinch of inflation!). Here are some ideas to make this happen on a budget:

  • Since any content area can use the black lights at any time, consider proposing this expense to your admin or parent group.
  • Send a request for parent donations for items like glow sticks, neon posters, neon paper, and highlighters. 
  • Use black trash bags instead of black tablecloths. They are cheaper and can be cut and taped.
  • White items also look great under black light, so don’t be afraid to incorporate your whiteboard and white paper!
  • Project a neon background video from YouTube like this Lava Lamp, or this rainbow tunnel, or these abstract liquids.
  • Consider using UV flashlights if they are more cost-effective.
  • Enlist in the power of crowd-sourcing. Apply for funding on Donors Choose, or swallow your pride and post your request on social media. Neighborhood groups love to support teachers!
glow in the dark poetry lesson without equipment

Creating Purposeful Poetry Analysis Stations

Once you’ve got your classroom transformation aspect underway, you’ll want to think about what your students should do at each station. I set up four stations: poetry form & structure, poetic devices, voice, and theme.

I supplied the station poster, several sets of directions, a jar of highlighters, and glow sticks at each station. I also designated a specific neon color at each station so students could keep track of where they had been and where they needed to go, but also so I could see evidence of each station on their poems.

Students were required to take their poem and their recording sheet to each station. The directions at each station specified what students were to highlight, label, or look for, which corresponded with the questions on their recording sheets. In a nutshell, I wanted them to look for the following:

  • Station 1 – Poetry Form & Structure: stanzas, lines, repetition, end rhyme, enjambment, & end-stop.
  • Station 2 – Poetic Devices: imagery, sound devices (alliteration, onomatopoeia, etc.), & figurative language. This is certainly the most intensive station, and you could easily break it down into two or more stations.
  • Station 3 – Speaker: Analyze words with negative/positive connotations, speaker’s point of view/attitude, tone
  • Station 4 – Theme: Title, topic, poet’s message

You could easily customize your stations to focus on what your students need most – or what the poems you select lend themselves to! On that note, selecting your poem(s) is the last and final step in preparing for your poetry glow day.

poetry glow day stations

Poetry Glow Day Must Reads

At this point in your poetry unit, you’ve likely pulled out all the stops and incorporated as many of your favorite poems as possible. Have no fear; there is always another good poem to read/discuss/analyze/enjoy with your students. For a fun and upbeat list for your glow day, check out:

  1. “Litany” by Billy Collins
  2. “On Turning Ten” by Billy Collins
  3. “Oranges” by Gary Soto
  4. “How to Eat a Poem” by Eve Merriam
  5. “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” by Maya Angelou
  6. “Mr. Nobody” – Anonymous
  7. “Eating Poetry” – Mark Strand

For more recommendations, check out this list of poems for middle schoolers or these reverse poems if you want to add a fun twist to your glow day!

You can either choose one poem for all of your students to analyze or print a variety of poems (I’d call them invitations) and let students choose.

Give Your Poetry Lessons a Glow-Up

If you’re on the fence about whether or not you can really make a poetry glow day happen, consider starting small. Turn off the lights, throw a neon background video on your projector, give your kids a glow stick or two, and have them do their poetry analysis stations digitally. A black background with neon print is not the real thing, but it comes pretty close! 

create an immersive poetry lesson your students will remember

No matter what you choose, giving your poetry lessons a black + neon glow-up will capture your students’ attention and get them excited about learning. Make it a day to remember and invite your students to layer on the neon scrunchies, windbreakers, and other 90s-inspired memorabilia. With a bit of resourcefulness and a few budget-friendly materials, you can create an immersive learning experience that your students will thoroughly enjoy. So turn out the lights, pop off your highlighter caps, and get ready to analyze some poems like it’s 1999!

>>> You can grab my digital poetry glow stations here.

Happy teaching!