Lesson Plan: Movement Poem


Collage: Moving Beyond Paper, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2016
Collage: Moving Beyond Paper, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2016. (At right is artwork featured in this lesson: Salvatore Scarpitta, Sundial for Racing, 1962.)
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This lesson is appropriate for many grade levels and incorporates critical thinking, creative writing, and movement.


Movement Poem Worksheet


Suggested Artworks

Abstract art works well with this lesson, such as

Fletcher Benton, Steel Watercolor Series: China Moon II, 1998 (tall sculpture located near the sidewalk south of the Link Gallery)

Mirko Basaldella, Initiation, 1961 (bronze sculpture on the marble pedestal at the Peabody Drive entrance to KAM)

Salvatore Scarpitta, Sundial for Racing, 1962. (pictured above, right)


CCSA.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing one's own ideas clearly and persuasively

CCSA.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Interate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally

VA:Re8 Construct meaningful interpretations of artistic work


  • Share a few abstract artworks with your students. Have each student select a work of art to focus on and take a minute to look at it.
  • Pass out the worksheet. Have students write down words and phrases that describe the artwork. They can be exactly what you see when you look at it, or they can be more abstract. For example, if the curvy lines of a sculpture remind you of spaghetti, you can write down the word spaghetti. Write as many words as you can.
  • If students are having trouble thinking of words, have them look at the questions on the first page of the worksheet to prompt ideas.
  • After taking time to look on their own, have students discuss the artworks in greater depth. Let students know that they may continue to add words to their list during the discussion.
  • Throughout the discussion, ask students how their words may be turned into a movement. For example, if someone describes lines as "wavy," ask them how they might be able to show "wavy" with their body and arms. Or how they can show the strength of "steel" with their body?


  • We used many words to describe the artworks we saw, and by now you may have a long list of words or phrases for the artwork you chose to focus on. Think of the box on the first page of your worksheet as the door of a fridge. All of your words are magnet words that you can arrange into a poem. Has anyone ever played with magnet words before?
  • When you use magnet words, you usually don't use all of them. You can pick and choose words that stand out to you. Now you need to do the same to your big list of words.
  • Look at your list of words and underline 4–7 words that you think are the most important or that describe the artwork the best.


  • Think about the order you would like to arrange your words into. For example, you might choose, "mysterious tall waving rocketship" or "mysterious rocketship waving tall."
  • Before you make your final choice, you might want to say several different versions out loud to see which one sounds best.


  • We are now going to take the poem you wrote and turn it into a movement poem.
  • How can you express each word as a movement?
  • Go over an example together as a group before breaking off to work on your own.
  • If your final poem is "mysterious tall waving rocketship,"

Think about a movement for mysterious: maybe creeping around or hiding behind something

Think about a movement for tall: maybe holding your arms straight up to look taller or walking on tiptoes

Think about a movement for waving: maybe waving arms or fingers or a hand or your whole body

Think about a movement for rocketship: maybe jumping up from a crouch like you're blasting off or moving like you're flying through space

  • Now to create a movement poem, combine the movements for each word into one long movement, like a dance. Try to say each word of your poem as you do the movement (creep and hide, arms straight up, wave my body, jump up)
  • You can do one movement at a time, or you can combine them. You are the poet and the artist, so it is up to you how to combine your ideas and movements.
  • Find an open space to practice your poem. Remember to focus on one word and movement at at time, then combine them. 
  • After students have had time to work on movement poems, meet back as a group and stand in a circle. Have students perform one at a time, and see if other students can guess which artwork inspired the poem. Another way to finish might be to have students perform one at a time in sequence around the circle, so that the poems become a single dance that moves from one person to the next.