by Laura Sassi
Since April is National Poetry Month, here are 8 ideas to inspire a love of poetry with your children. What would you add? Let us know in the comments section. Happy Poetry Month!
1. Write/ illustrate a poem with your child. Picture book author and poet Penny Klostermann ran a series which you can still access in which a poet and child collaborated on a poem. My daughter and I even contributed a collaboration – an experience we will be both cherish for a lifetime. First, have fun together exploring the series. Then, using the series as a model, either write a poem and have your child illustrate it, or let your child illustrate something and then write a poem based on the illustration. Don’t worry about perfection – just have fun celebrating poetry together!
2. Participate in Poem in Your Pocket Day. Even littlest ones can enjoy the fun on April 21st as people all over the nation carry favorite poems in their pockets to read and share throughout the day. Teachers should ask parents ahead of time to help their little one select a short, simple poem to tuck into their pocket and bring to class. Throughout the morning, pause to read and celebrate each child’s poem. For more information check out the Academy of American Poets website.
3. Memorize a poem together. I still remember the A.A. Milne poem “The King’s Breakfast” which my mother and I memorized when I was three. Actually, I’m not sure we even memorized it on purpose. I just wanted her to read it to me every night and pretty soon we were reciting it – just because we loved it so much. And here’s a most adorable recitation by a little one on YouTube who has memorized it as well! For a fun listen, press here. Is there a poem you and your child love? Then consider memorizing it together. (If you’ve been reading it to them a lot lately, they may surprise you by already knowing it by heart.) Have fun! (add in link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
4. Have a Chalk-A-Bration. On the last day of this and every month, copy or create a poem in chalk with your child on a sidewalk, driveway, or playground surface for others to enjoy. For more details, visit kindergarten teacher and chalk poem lover Besty Hubbard at her blog Teaching Young Writers.
5. Hear your favorite children’s poets read their own work at No Water River. Poet Renee LaTulippe has an amazing collection of authors reading samples of their poetry for kids. Each video segment is accompanied by an interview and extension activities. You can even find me reading my poem “Sir Ned”. Enjoy!
6. Sip tea and listen to poems at a “Poetry Teatime”. Visit Brave Writer for tips on hosting a successful teatime with little ones. Though geared to a homeschool setting, her tips for teatime can easily be adapted to any family setting.
7. Take a field trip… to the library! Poetry collections are shelved separately from fiction and picture books. Ask the librarian (or better yet let your child ask the librarian) to direct you to the poetry section. Then spend some delightful time exploring the wonderful breadth and diversity in children’s poetry books. Check out your favorites to bring home.
8. Play with words. This is what poets do! We play with sound and imagery. Little ones love to do this too! So, instill a love for poetry by playing rhyming games. Foster rhythm by stomping or clapping to to the beat of the words. Play with onomatopoeia by creating your own sound words and acting them out. Have fun with alliteration by taking turns making fun and crazy lists of words that begin with the same sound.