Monday, March 21, 2011

Online Inspiration for Young Poets

March 21 is World Poetry Day.

I believe our young writers need all the encouragement we can give them. Young poets are a very special breed. I've been looking around for resources they might be able to use, and want to share some with you today.

Some kids aren't quite sold on poetry yet. Luckily, there are websites that cater to them by pushing interactivity or humorous verse.

Rhyme Rodeo is not a place to find great poetry. It's an interactive that children 8+ might enjoy though, where they need to choose rhyming words to finish lines, and can listen to their completed poem while reading along.

At Goggle Shared Spaces, there's Magnetic Fridge Poetry where young poets can even upload a custom set of words for a friend to create a poem with, or use the default words the way I did, in the image below.

PBS Parents has a Haiku builder which is interactive. It's a little like magnetic poetry.

Poetry Splatter is part of RIF's Reading Planet. Once kids choose a poem title, they fill in blanks from the words splattered across their screen.

Scholastic has a Poetry Idea Engine. Kids can choose to write haiku, limerick, free verse or chinquapin. Be sure to check out the tips from famous poets too.

Giggle Poetry is a website that emphasises the fun in poetry. There are all sorts of activities and word games, a great poetry class where kids can follow Bruce Lansky's directions to produce a poem of their own, as well as many poems from Bruce Lansky himself. My favourite section of Giggle Poetry is Poetry Theatre where Lansky supplies poems for performance. Perfect for family or school concerts!

Poetry 4 Kids is Kenn Nesbitt's website which I told you about in Poetry Book Giveaway last year. The emphasis again, in art work and format, is on fun, on luring kids toward the magic of poetry by sharing humorous verse first and foremost. Kenn has lessons, podcasts, and a free rhyming dictionary and app.

Robert Pottle also has a wonderful website where kids can follow directions for creating their own poetry, this time lessons are in comic format.

Kids who already love poetry may still need support and inspiration. It might seem a no-brainer, but make sure you include poetry in the books you borrow from the library, and in your family read-alouds. Be alert for opportunities for word play, help kids observe their world and create pictures using words. When write o'clock comes around, the whole family might try their hands at some poetry writing.

The Poem Farm is a lovely blog where Amy shares her poetry with the world, plus tips for writers.

The Children's Poetry Archive is a good place to search for poetry according to themes like animals, clothes, dance etc.

Fred's Petals: Fred is only 7, but she has a blog where she publishes her poems. If your youngster expresses interest in starting her own similar blog, it really doesn't take long for you to set one up and add a poem whenever she is ready to do so.

April is National Poetry Month in the US. Greg Pincus will have a new edition of 30 Poets/ 30 Days on his Gottabook blog. I LOVE this yearly tradition! Each day, Greg features a poet who writes for kids with a never-before-seen poem. This is a great way for young and old to learn about new poets and poems. Find out more about it, including ways to subscribe so a poem pings into your inbox each day, at Gottabook.

Alphabet Soup magazine really encourages young readers and writers. You'll find children's own fantastic poems and stories published there, my column on writing tips for children, wonderful children's poetry by adult poets and interviews with published writers that kids can use as inspiration and encouragement. Find out more about it, including subscription details and a free sample, via the website.

Lorraine Marwood is a wonderful Australian poet. I reviewed her poetry book, A Ute Picnic and Other Australian Poems, last year. Lorraine's website is a great encouragement to young poets, not just because of the useful resources stored there, but also for them to see that Lorraine was honoured recently as recipient of the Prime Minister's Literary Award, a huge honour. I used Lorraine's Two-Word poem activity last year for one of my Creative Prompts and Lorraine shared other great ideas in her guest post at The Book Chook, Encouraging Kids to Read and Write Poetry.

Michael Rosen is another of my favourite children's poets. At the Children's Laureate website, you can access his video tips for teachers, stacks of poetry resources, and kids can also upload (UK only) and browse videos of children's poetry performances via an external e-safe website, including embed codes. Rosen's own website is a treasure trove for young poets, including a page of poems to read. Here's Rosen performing Boogy Woogy Buggy. You're kids will love it!

Shel Silverstein has such a fun website that will intrigue kids from the start. There's a special section just for children with games and puzzles, printable and downloads. Teachers and parents can find excellent ideas here too, including a Poetry Month celebration kit in pdf format. Check out Silverstein's Crocodile's Toothache in this video below.

Author Dori Chaconas has excellent explanations for rhyming picture book writers on her website. You will need to help your child understand but I think the part about stressed syllables is beautifully explained, and might be useful to young poets.

Some people may want to introduce their kids to poetry writing but not be too sure where to start. Here's a great article at ReadWriteThink that has useful, practical suggestions. ReadWriteThink also offer interactive activities to help children write their own poems.

When I begin teaching children to write poetry, my aim is to shake loose the stored language inside their heads, and have them play with it. I always try to encourage an atmosphere that promotes a free flow of ideas. I don't worry too much at this stage over whether something IS or ISN'T poetry. My aim is to have children creating with words, and delighting in the joy of language.

If you know of a great website that encourages young poets, whether advice from an adult poet, an interactive, or a younger poet publishing their poems online, please share it with us in comments. What will you do to celebrate World Poetry Day?
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