This morning I got lucky . . . I read poems. Not even the blistering wind's roar amidst the frigid temperatures of a lingering winter could keep me from imagining "spring hope."
And now the weeping willow turns to green.
So brilliant red, the robin’s breast,
Just like the sun, now sinking in the West,
And down the lane more signs of spring are seen.
(M. Jones, Poetry Soup)
Poetry is like that. Its beauty is in the world of rhyme, free verse or prose. It gives a sense of power and sensitivity while uniquely expressing thoughts and feelings. In reading aloud, hearing and writing poetry, children are guided through the wondrous possibilities of their own language to savor and enjoy. They learn vocabulary, word choice and grammar. They get lucky . . .
Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
As an ESL teacher and avid reader, I appreciate National Poetry Month held every April, inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. How can we as educators take a vital role in promoting poetry and, in doing so, help our students celebrate poetry?
It is "my hope" that these resources will help you explore the joy of poetry with your students:
- National Poetry Month FAQ explains what National Poetry month is all about, its history, and how teachers as well as others can be more involved.
- Poet-to-Poet Project introduces a multimedia educational project that invites young people in grades 3-12 to write poems in response to those shared by some of the award-winning poets who serve on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors. Students watch Poet-to-Poet videos and discuss poems. This project includes a series of activities aligned with the Common Core. Student response poems are due by 4/30/14.
- Poem in Your Pocket Day is held on Thursday, April 24, 2014. People throughout the United States select a poem to carry in their pocket and share throughout the day or on Twitter. This page contains details on how to create your own special event and how to sign up for a free newsletter.
- Scholastic's Teachers page provides strategies and ideas, along with student activities for bringing poets into your classroom. It includes lesson plans and poetry prompts for all age groups, with downloads from inspiring authors.
- ReadWriteThink (International Reading Association) includes classroom activities, websites and related resources to teach poetry.
- Reading Rockets offers 15 video interviews with poets and writers, and a series of booklists in addition to many online resources.
- Education Place breaks down poetry activities by grade levels K-8 and integrates them with art, science and math.
- Infoplease features biographies, poetry collections, a Shakespeare primer, quizzes and more.
- Writer's Digest includes the 20 best poems recommended by a father of five. These poems are short, funny and rhyming. This feature talks about how kids can write poetry.
- goodreads lists 85 collections of poetry for children and entire books in verse.
- Family Friend Poems includes 13 pages of complete poems for children by beloved authors.
- storyit.com shows a collection of classical poems for children written by a variety of poets. Poems range from "fun and lively to solemn and thought-provoking." They can be downloaded and printed.
- About.com discusses classic English and American nursery rhymes (lullabies, counting games, riddles and rhymed fables) to introduce children to rhythmic, mnemonic and allegorical uses of language.
- Great Poems to Teach provides 20 poems for the classroom, along with additional poems to memorize, perform or recite. The page includes a link to audio poems.
- Fizzy Funny Fuzzy gives us its reader-selected top ten poems by children who are "good readers."
- The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) salutes its winners of the Award for Excellence in poetry for children, sharing their poems from 1977 to 2013.
I invite you to share some of your own favorite resources in teaching poetry to children. What can you pass along to help our students celebrate poetry?