These poems for kids have been tested! They have been used in my classroom for the last three years and my students LOVED them. Based on what I have heard from many of you, your students enjoy these poems too! Good news! They have been updated! Don’t worry… just the clip art has been updated. The sentence strips are the same… whew!
Why use poems in the classroom?
My initial response is… poems are fun! Well, I guess so is playing tag and braiding your neighbor’s hair. So the question really should be, “What are the academic benefits of poetry?
The demands of poetry
Students must deploy numerous skills to navigate poetry:
- decipher figurative language
- infer deeper meaning of the poem*
- create sensory images
- make connections
- appreciate rhythm and rhyme
*In the primary grades, we don’t dive too deep into poems that need complex interpretation. However, I remember suffering through these PAINFUL poetry lessons when I was in high school. They made my head hurt. Here is what Fountas and Pinnell had to say,
“If [you] are going to learn to love poetry, [you] need to feel it and enjoy the language first…Young children respond to rhymes, chants, and songs (not properly called poetry according to scholars, but an important foundation for appreciating poetry.”
Enlarged Print for Shared Reading
We use enlarged print because it allows the students to focus on the print. We use a variety of pointers. We start the year by pointing to each word as we read it. Then we gravitate towards sliding the pointer underneath the words as we read it. Towards the end of the year, we simply point to the line we are reading. Student helpers are always brought forward to lead us. Sometimes we need to offer more support so we work hand over hand with the student. Other students can handle this task independently.
As we are reading the poems, we also do some word work. In this image, we are looking for the letter b.
This activity is from the interactive poetry notebook component of my poetry units. As you can see, the beginning of the year, we are really focusing on beginning skills. As the year progresses, we get to the more rigorous skills.
(This is the included student response page.)
We also do sorts to support phonemic awareness.
Regardless of the activity, everyone is participating. No beauty shop here… yes, braiding hair can be fun, but EVERYONE needs to participate in the activity. Some students need to support of the class sort, while others can handle this on their own. Here are a few more of the interactive poetry notebook pages.
The use of poems builds fluency
I have written extensively about how we use poetry to influence fluency. You can read that post HERE. But here are a few more words from Fountas and Pinnell:
“For young children, poems, chants, rhymes, and songs have natural qualities that help them become familiar with rhythm and tone. They are easy to remember and fun to repeat.”
So what is next?
I have been asked to create a second year’s worth of poems. I am thrilled that districts have adopted my poems for their teachers. Now kindergarten AND first grade can use my poetry units. I have already gotten started! On a recent family trip, I took the back seat. Mr. Wills and the Perfect Son sat up front while I worked out the poems for August/September and October. Can I just tell you that their participation was hilarious (but also super helpful)?
SIDENOTE: I hate my handwriting!
I expect the first few months worth of poems to be ready by early July.
Well folks, that is it! That is how I use poems in my classroom. My kids loved them!