As I’ve already posted on poetry in Fill Their Minds With Words, Make Them Their Own: Poetry, I will provide a brief update on our poetry curriculum. I continue to be amazed at the children’s capacity to memorize poetry. I have one who can memorize anything: recipes, shopping lists, secret codes. And I have one who forgets the days of the week. They are in third grade and first grade. Before we started poetry, I completely underestimated their ability to memorize and appreciate complex poetry. Now it’s in there. Forever, snippets of these poems will pop into their minds as the occasion arises!
Poems memorized since the last poetry post include:
“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost
- 1. YouTube reference: A great reading by a small child that is fun and motivating for kids to watch!
- 2. We discussed the interesting rhyming scheme of this poem. Each third line of the stanzas does not rhyme and sets up the rhyming scheme for the next stanza. Until the last, which all rhymes. Forgive me, I do not know the appropriate words to discuss poetry yet. We just memorize them for now!
- 3. I chose this piece because we are in the deep of winter in this part of the states, as well as for its beauty.
- 4. We looked at some phonics using this poem. We’ve been working on the letter Y as a vowel, and we went through the poem looking for examples. We also talked about the two sounds OO can make, and the sounds WH makes. We could have went on and on.
“Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” by William Butler Yeats (pronounced “Yates”–I was ignorant, had to look that up.)
- 1. YouTube reference: Our favorite reading on YouTube was by Sir Anthony Hawkins.
- 2. This poem is in the Mensa for Kids poetry collection and thus has a nice little bit on Yeats, the poem’s meaning, and a way to go about memorizing it. I really like the Mensa for Kids poetry collection and printed out all of it. Some selections we will not do until the girls are older. But I have been absolutely astounded at their enjoyment of memorizing these poems and their ability to do so! The Mensa poems seem too advanced, but after giving them a try, I’m glad I did! We pick and choose poems from it.
- 3. To bring this poem to their level, I talked about how they bring me their artwork to see. “Do you like it, Mommy?” “Of course I do! It’s great!” We talk about what if I said, “No. I don’t like the color of your princess’s dress. I wouldn’t have colored it that way. You didn’t do a very good job.” How would they feel? And what if they told me they wanted to be an astronaut, and I said, “No. You’re not good enough in math. You can never be an astronaut.” Finally, I told them that I was going to lay their favorite shirt on the ground outside and asked them how they would walk on it. Would they stamp on it? Run on it? Why not?
- 4. We connected this poem to two other poems we have learned, “Hope” by Emily Dickinson and “Dreams” by Langston Hughes.
- 5. Lastly, we painted an illustration of this poem using tempera paint, some gold and silver oil paint, and glitter.
- 6. The kids chose this poem from a reading of a few poems. I was surprised, but it worked into a great unit study!
How we learn a new poem:
- The first day we “live with the poem”: I read it aloud to them a couple of times then have them repeat the first line or two after me. And put it away.
- The second day we “live with the poem”: I read the poem again to them. They each get a copy of the poem and we read it aloud together or have them take turns with stanzas or lines. I repeat a few lines and have them repeat the lines back to me without looking at their papers. I push them as hard as I can without frustrating them AT ALL. We may talk about the meaning, alliteration, and imagery.
- The third day we “live with a poem”: They repeat as much as they can from memory with my prompts. We look up the poem being read on YouTube and watch a couple of different readers/presentations and pick a favorite. This can really be a fun time full of giggling as contributor’s recitations can be quite different from your recitation interpretation! We then repeat as much as we can or say it together.
- The fourth day we “live with a poem”: We work on trouble lines, reading them, repeating them, singing them, drawing them, whatever it takes. We attempt to recite as much as we can. Watch YouTube again if it seems like it will benefit them.
- The fifth day we “live with the poem”: I read the poem aloud. I ask them to recite as much as they can from memory.
- The sixth day we “live with the poem”: By now most of the poem is memorized. We continue working on the poem until perfected. Sometimes we’ll look at the phonics in the poem and grammar of the poem, tying it into our other lessons. I may have them circle long E sounds or long I sounds. Point out capitalization.
We spend about 20-30 minutes maximum on poetry about 4 days per week. An investment I find invaluable. Something I never would have believed.
You are what you eat! Eat well!
You are what you read! Read well!