Monday, February 17, 2014

Poetry with Kids - Ideas and Resources

Poetry with Kids - Ideas and Resources
by Susan Stephenson,

My feelings about poetry are actually quite difficult to express. Poetry is many different things to me:

  • a succinct way of saying something profound, 
  • a sly dig at a pompous personage, 
  • or a rollicking tale to make me laugh. 

One thing I believe about poetry is concisely expressed in the quote below. Another is that if we want kids to love poetry (and we should!), then the very best thing we can do is share poems with them from an early age.

How to do this? We must ensure we include poetry books in our family read-alouds on a regular basis. Another idea is to find the poetry section in our local library, and borrow books from it. Poetry is mostly short, which makes it perfect for sharing informally, perhaps before dinner, or while waiting in a queue. Some of the earliest poems children encounter are nursery rhymes. These and other strongly rhythmic poems are wonderful for moving to - marching perhaps, or dancing, or whatever movement the poem dictates. Websites like the funeverse also offer gorgeously illustrated poems for kids to enjoy.

Including poetry creation and word play in family and school activities is an excellent idea. Games like Hink Pink or simply leaving rhyming words out for kids to supply make rhyming part of family fun. When we share chants and rhymes with kids, we help reinforce lots of language structures and vocabulary.

As I said in the quote just above, when we want to teach poetry creation to kids, I believe the emphasis should be on helping them to enjoy playing with words. Here are some resources you might like:
  • At ETTC kids can choose a poem template (cinquain, holiday poem etc) and fill in the words and lines they want. This is a structured way to start kids off and will appeal to kids who like some sort of scaffolding. Below is my sample Emotional Animal poem.

  • A Poem a Week is an excellent resource from Australian poets who explain the background to a poem, and offer a poetry exercise based on the poem.
  • US poet and author, Laura Purdie Salas, has a section of her website that offers help to young poets. Check out her Poetic Pursuits.
Poetry contests can be another way of motivating students to write their own poetry. In Australia, we have the Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards, the oldest and largest poetry competition for school aged children in Australia. Entries open in March, and close in June.

Are you as interested as I am in encouraging children to express themselves? You might also like to read: Helpful Resources for Young Writers.  I have three more articles, Poetry with Kids - Creating Haiku, Poetry with Kids - Creating Haiga, and Poetry with Kids - Presenting Haiga here at The Book Chook.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the funeverse mention Susan. Much appreciated.


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