Hope is The Thing With Feathers (Activity)

Activity Name: “Hope Is the Thing With Feathers”

Recommended Grades: 1-2 (with supervision), 3-8 (independently)

Time: 30 mins - 2 hours

Materials List: Sidewalk chalk, Paper, colored pencils/markers, stapler, push pins

The other day, I was walking my dog around my neighborhood when I realized that most of the telephone poles in the area had pieces of paper attached to them. Curious, I investigated and found that someone had stapled copies of Emily Dickinson’s famous poem: “Hope is the thing with feathers.”

Take a minute to read the poem below:

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,

And on the strangest sea;

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.

I was clear to me that whoever had posted this poem was attempting to connect with their neighborhood community by spreading a positive message. This inspired me to pass this story along to you - and ask you participate with your own version of the poem!


  1. Think up your own version of “Hope,” that you would like to share with your neighborhood. It can be another poem, a story, song lyrics, or you can use sidewalk chalk to draw symbols or write a positive message.

  2. Head out into your neighborhood, and look for places to post your message. Some places include:

    1. Stapling/pinning to telephone poles

    2. Using sidewalk chalk on public places

Some important tips:

  • Make sure that your message is kind, and positive! Remember, we are trying to find ways to spread positivity in our community.

  • Only post your message(s) in public locations. That includes telephone poles, sidewalks, the driveway of a public park. Only draw/post on the driveway of a private property if you have permission from the owner!

  • You can crush up sidewalk chalk and mix it with water, then can paint with it using a brush!

Consider these questions, or ask a friend:

  • What makes you feel hope?

  • What do others say to you to make you feel good?

  • What are some other good feelings or emotions besides feeling “good?”

  • Do you like to feel hopeful? Empowered? Talented? Caring?

  • What message can you spread that makes others feel those same good feelings?


Emily Dickinson, "'Hope' is the Thing with Feathers" from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Thomas H. Johnson, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University press, Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Reprinted by permissions of the publishers and Trustees of Amherst College.

Photo of feather used is stock/public use.

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