Are you wanting to teach poetry to your children or lead a poetry class for your co-op? Here are some great poetry activities for early elementary homeschoolers!
First Things First
Read poetry out loud (everyday if you can).
Maybe this goes without saying, but it is so important that I’m saying it anyways! More than anything, your goal should be developing a love for poetry in your children. Read funny poems, poems that paint a picture in their minds, and poems that have a catchy beat. The more they hear poetry read to them, the more their ear will become accustomed to different types of rhythms, rhyming words, and syllables.
Make the setting special.
Poetry is beautiful and deserves special treatment! Read it at the table with juice and cookies, or spread out a blanket on the grass and learn it while looking up at the trees. Your children will look forward to this time and will associate poetry with beauty instead of drudgery.
Fun Poetry Activities
Don’t expect your children to write poetry until they have been exposed to many great examples. For most children this will cause frustration and take the joy out this beautiful subject. Take these early years to tune you children’s ears and hearts to what poetry sounds and feels like. Here are some fun ideas to help!
Pick an image filled poem, as the children to close their eyes and try to imagine what you are reading. When you are done, ask them to tell you what they pictured. The first couple of times, you might need to give them examples of what they could have imagined. This will help them to start to understand the concept of imagery in poems.
Finish the Line
Read a poem that ends in very obvious rhyming words. Read the first line completely, then read the second line but leave out the last word. Have the children guess what word comes next, using context clues and knowing that it has to rhyme with the last word from the previous line. This might be easy for older students, but they will have fun shouting out the words! As your children get better at this, pick more difficult poems or poems with a higher vocabulary level.
Beat it Out
Choose a poem that has a steady beat. Have your children practice finding it and clapping it out. You can have them start just clapping on the down beat, and then advance to patting their legs on the down beat and clapping on the up beat (or whatever work for the poem you choose). Choose poems with different, or less obvious beats as they master finding the more simple poems.
Once your children start to understand how imagery is used in poetry, have them try drawing one of the images from the poem. If you have a group of children, have them each draw the image from a different line, then have them practice reciting the poem together, each child saying the line they drew and showing their picture.
Poems as Songs
Ask your children to name one of their favorite songs. Show them how most songs are actually poetry set to music. Tell them that putting poetry to music is a great way to memorize poems. If you need simple examples, use nursery rhymes. Most nursery rhymes have a little ditty that go along with them. For extra fun, get out a jump rope and have them see if they can say/sing the rhyme while jumping to the beat! (This might be tricky for some children, but just have fun with it!)
Use some of these ideas and poetry will become a delight!