Ransom Note Poetry


Ransom Poetry is a GREAT activity for any of your speakers (or debaters) to flex their creativity and do an impromptu performance. This exercise is a perfect fit for anyone looking to engage in a creative and linguistic challenge.


This activity is versatile and can be adapted for speakers and debaters across all skill levels, enhancing their abilities to think creatively and perform spontaneously.

Learning Outcomes

  • Creative Linguistic Skills: Develop the ability to craft messages with a limited set of words, enhancing word choice and message clarity.
  • Impromptu Speaking: Strengthen improvisational speaking skills through the spontaneous creation and presentation of poetry.
  • Public Speaking and Performance: Provide a platform for students to practice and refine their public speaking and performance abilities.


  1. Preparation: Before engaging in this activity, gather as many magazines, newspapers, or other recycled print materials as possible. You’ll also need a class set of scissors and some glue or tape.

  2. Introduction and Demonstration: To set up your students, show them an example of a Ransom Poem, asking a volunteer to read it aloud to provide clear insight into what the end product might look like.

  3. Poem Creation: Give your students up to thirty minutes to create their own “Ransom Poem” using only the words from the provided print materials. Optionally, provide a theme, such as a debate topic for advanced students or a character trait for younger students, to guide their creations.

  4. Sharing and Discussion: After the poems are created, have students share their poems one by one. If time is limited, consider having them share with a partner before selecting a few for classwide presentation. This part of the activity is a great introduction to conversations about word choice, word economy, or more complex performances such as POI.

  5. Reflection: Conclude with a reflection on the process, inviting students to discuss how the activity may have shifted their approach to language and creativity.

Additional Tips

  • Ensure there is a wide variety of print materials to cater to different interests and provide a rich source of words.
  • Encourage students to think about the flow and rhythm of their poems, not just the meaning of the words.
  • Use this activity as a precursor to a lesson on rhetorical devices and their impact on speeches and debates.

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