Blackout Poetry for Children- A how to guide

Blackout Poetry is a brilliant technique that uses existing text to create a poem with a new meaning. Underlines was not the creator of Blackout Poetry, just a big fan of it. Whilst some call the activity creative destruction, we like to think of it as a Imagination Fuel.

Here is a how to of creating a blackout poem with children.

You will need:
-Existing text from a story
-Black felt tip pen
– You may also wish to have other colour pens.

To create a small poem or phrase using words from an already existing text.

Step One: Find the text.
– I took the text from David Walliams’ brilliant book ‘Mr Stink’. I typed it out so that I didn’t have to tear up a book.


Step two: Encourage the child to read through the text and pick out a word that particularly stands out. An object or a describing word is a great starting point.
-I selected the word ‘silver’. Rather than going straight in to black out the text, I underlined it.That way I can underline many words and then can select which ones I am going to black out.


Step three: Read the text again with the word you have chosen in mind. Underline any words that work well with the word. If they struggle get the child talking more about the word.What other words does it make them think of?
Encourage the child to keep re-reading through the text until you have formed a sentence.
-Silver to me on my first read through suggested money. So I was drawn to the word pay. The word clink stood out as well as it reminded me of the sounds coins make. As I went through the text I begun to form sentences.

Step four: Once they have got their sentence they can begin blacking out all the words that they don’t need.
-I suggest drawing a box around the words you want to keep so that you don’t accidentally scribble them out.


“Please pay the silver sausages back quietly and carefully or they clink.”

There you have it- a blackout poem. Sometimes they are more like nonsense poems- so it’s a brilliant opportunity to teach about the different sort of poems there are. 

Blackout Poem Extension Activities

With blackout poems you don’t have to stop there. Rather than seeing them as a finished product, I like to think of them as the beginning of an idea. So here are some things you can create now that you have your blackout poem.

1-A longer poem

Rather than seeing the poem created as a whole poem, why not look at it as just the start of the poem.
Encourage children to select the last word of their blackout poem and find words that rhyme with it.

This can now become an activity where they continue the poem making every line rhyme.

Please pay the silver sausages back quietly and carefully or they clink. 
And if you don’t move the purple lemons quickly, they just might sink.
Take the apples away, the ones in grey, yellow and pink,
Cover the green chocolate and hide it in the sink. 
Chop the rainbow strawberry and try it in a drink,
Why not try a strange coloured dinner, they’re rather interesting don’t you think? 

2- Art work
Take the blackout poem and use it as a title, whether for 3D crafts, a painting or a drawing. Perfect for display board work and presenting the poem on.

3- Write a story about the sentence created.
Use it as a writing prompt. Create characters, landscapes and an idea that fits in with your poem. See how different it is from the original text.

Why not send us some of your blackout poetry to and we might feature it on our website or social media.





Author: Antonia Underwood

I am an actor, writer, workshop leader and the founder of Underlines, a company that creates active and exciting platforms for writing.

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