I love to make up little rhymes and songs about what my children and I are doing. More often than not, they don’t make sense or I throw in some obscure word just to get it to rhyme, which my son thinks is hysterical. These days he joins in too or makes up his own. We are not professional musicians in this house, nor dancers; we are poets!
Poetry is an important part of language learning but can often be presented in a dull and boring way. I cringe as I remember my poetry lessons from school. I was convinced it was some sort of torture for children!
Poetry draws on the writer’s senses, feelings, perceptions, memories and hopes, so we all have the tools to write poetry. Over the centuries poems have been written by people from all walks of life. From kings and nobles to farmers and sailors and on every topic imaginable. Love, death and everything in between.
A poem helps to demonstrate the flow and rhythm of a language, and they can help with understanding of quirky spelling and rhyming. Because poems can be virtually of any length, they are perfect for those just getting started on writing as well as accomplished writers.
As you know, poems come is all shapes and sizes. The key is to find ones that appeal to your children: fun whimsical ramblings of Dr Seuss or the silly verses of Kenn Nesbitt are great for a giggle, but children can also be mesmerized by more serious verse such as those by Judith Nicholls or classics by Robert Lewis Stephenson.
Ideas to Help You Enjoy Poetry With Your Children
:: Find a good mix of poems from different people on different subjects and make a note of which your child is drawn to.
:: Make your poetry reading spot a fun place to be. Build a tent in the living room, convert the space under the dining room table into a mystical cave, get aboard a magic carpet, or head outside so you can share your poems with the fairies in the garden.
:: Keep a small book of poetry in your handbag (works especially well with fun or silly poems) for those emergency “I’m bored” moments. Encourage making up poems whilst you wait for the dentist or while stuck in a traffic jam.
:: Listen and draw: whilst you read, let your child draw what he or she imagines from the poem.
:: Alternatively give your child a printout of a poem and let them illustrate it.
:: Matching game — using seasons for an example, find a few short poems for each of the seasons and four cards with the words Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Read the poems and sort them depending on the season. Ask the child their reasons for their choices. Get started with this ROTH poetry printable.
:: Print out two copies of a poem. Cut out the first copy so each line is a strip. For children who are at reading level, see if they can figure out the correct order. Use the second copy as a control of error, so they can check their own work. When they have finished they can copy or stick the strips to a piece of paper and decorate it.
I am sure I wasn’t the only person to have magnetic poetry on our fridge door as a college student. You can still buy the sets or, better still, make your own. These days you can buy magnetic sheets to go through the printer and making up poems can be much more fun if you can include family members names!
Jo Ebisujima is a Brit living in Japan. She loves creating for children and helping parents to organize themselves and their children so that they can spend more quality time together. She writes about her work at My Organized Chaos. She can also be found at her personal blog jojoebi designs where she shares about her everyday life, Montessori, crafting and raising a bilingual child in Japan.