Friday, September 23, 2016

Encourage Kids to Write Poetry with Tools and Apps

Written by Susan Stephenson,

For many children, writing poetry is a daunting task. Adults are daunted too! I believe we shouldn’t ask kids to write poetry, until we have shared LOTS of poetry with them - poetry in all sorts of forms and from many different poets, particularly those who write for kids. Adding a poetry book to your read-aloud stash is one simple, yet enriching way to do this. Another idea I advocate is to check out the videos generously shared by poets who read their own works aloud, like Michael Rosen (see video below) Websites like Giggle Poetry, Scholastic and Poetry4Kids offer kids a lot too.

A regular subscription to The School Magazine means that children will regularly read not only short poems, but encounter fun and exciting stories, articles and word fun. And let's not forget that most magical tool of all - a library card - bringing kids access to all sorts of poetry from near and far.

Once youngsters have read and enjoyed lots of poetry, we can show them how we grown ups go about writing a poem, but remind them that there is no one “right” way. I often ease kids in by finding a short rhyming poem in a book, say four lines, and invite students to change it and make it their own. Nursery rhymes are great for this. Scholastic has a set of videos from US poets who share writing secrets with kids.

Many teachers start children off with the short forms of poetry, particularly those that support young learners by having some sort of template or scaffolding. Some apps and website tools are also specifically designed to encourage poetry creation. These include:

Acrostic: “Acrostic Poem is another free app by generous developers, ReadWriteThink. It’s a great way to introduce children to writing poetry because it supports them and gives them a concrete framework to operate in.”

Haiku: “Haiku concentrates on doing one thing simply and well. It supports and encourages children to create their own haiku. The support means it’s suitable for kids old enough to write, even those hesitant to write poetry. I loved that the result can be saved to the camera roll, emailed and then printed - great idea for a display sometime.”

Diamante: “Again, kids will feel confident because of the scaffolding in place - they are ‘walked’ through each step of the process, including examples of printable diamante poems to use as models.”

Theme Poems: “Theme Poems is an interactive online tool, an iPad app and an Android app. The ReadWriteThink website not only has the tool (Flash Player required) but also has grade appropriate lessons to support it.“

Alphabet Organizer: Not strictly for poetry, this app could be used by kids to make alphabetical collections of vocabulary or word images for poetry.

Lark by Storybird: Storybird is a website where kids can make use of wonderful art work provided as prompts for stories they create. Storybird’s app, Lark, was developed specifically so children could “… make and share art-inspired poetry” using art work as a prompt.

PICLITS: Sometimes, the actual mechanical ask of handwriting or typing is difficult for kids, so word magnets can help. Kids can drag and drop a word, and use a drop-down menu to add different endings to that word. PICLITS also offers a range of image prompts, and a way to add your own words.

Found Poetry with Word Mover: A great way to create blank verse, Word Mover is another app with “word magnets” kids can use.

The wonderful thing is that apps don’t always need to be designed for poem writing, to encourage and enhance it. Don’t forget some of the image editors where kids can create or edit an image that becomes a prompt, or the camera app with which children can make a visual record of something they would like to write a poem about. With any writing, we want our kids to become aware of all their senses so they can hook a reader into a story or poem. So (for instance) even an audio app can help them remember what they’ve heard, and they can ponder later how best to make a word picture of it for a reader. Apps like Adobe Spark provide the means to create video using voice and images, even add soundtracks - an amazing way to share a poem with an audience.

If you’re interested in my articles about poetry and children, check out the embedded Listly list below.

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