The following is a post from contributing writer Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home.
National Poetry Month is right around the corner! Since 1996, April has been designated as National Poetry Month by the Academy of American Poets. It is a time to for people everywhere to celebrate poetry and its vital place in our culture. So what can you do in your family?
First and foremost, read poetry! Check out my article Reading Poetry with Children here on The Homeschool Classroom for an abundance of links and ideas for sharing poetry with your children.
Poets.org has a list of 30 Ways to Celebrate Poetry, ranging from “put a poem on the pavement” to “write a letter to a poet.”
Perhaps my favorite way to help kids fall in love with poetry is to integrate poetry with hands-on projects. Below are several projects—ones that I have used both with my own children and in my creative writing classes— that are almost guaranteed to generate excitement about poetry!
1. Poetry Pictures
I got this idea originally from the Making Books Blog. Start with a basic theme: animals, love, etc. My kids and I started with a basic theme of “spring” and started plowing through poetry books. We all read aloud whatever poems appealed to us, and then we picked a poem each to make into a picture. We all came up with very different ideas. My son picked a poem about onions and made his picture “scratch and sniff” using wild onions from our yard!
2. Poems on Flowers
For this, I drew simple outlines of flowers. You should start by brainstorming together about flowers and spring, spring colors, types of flowers, etc. On one flower, have your student write something with alliteration about spring or flowers. With the other flower write a simile about spring or about a flower in each petal. Do haiku or just a poetric phrase in the middle. Encourage the kids take off with their own creativity. They can even write adjectives or snippets of poetry on the stems or make clouds in the sky and use alliteration, etc. The possibilities are endless! (You can also do this with a fall leaves or winter snowflakes theme.)
3. Poetry Collages
I have a detailed post here on The Homeschool Classroom about making poetry collages. These are tons of fun and beautiful! We still have some hanging on the bulletin board that we made several years ago.
4. Make a Rainbow
This is one of my favorites. You can see all the details on my WordSmithery Creative Writing Lessons. And if kids really balk at making rainbows (trust me: this sometimes happens with 12-year-old boys), you can have them make a different shape, like ocean waves or a snake.
5. Accordion Books
These are fun little books featuring diamante poems, although any kind of form poetry would work nicely. Directions at Making Books Blog.
6. Newspaper Blackout Poems:
The basic idea is to find a newspaper article, circle promising words, cross out others, and then eventually come up with a poem. You can read more about this technique at Newspaper Blackout. Read our final product here!
7. Synonym Strips
This is a colorful and useful addition to your school room! Collect a bunch of paint color strips in a home improvement store. Label each one with overused words, such as nice, pretty, and awesome. Challenge your students to find a whole list of synonyms for each word. When done, shape them into a flower or sun or whatever shape you wish. (Individually, these make great bookmarks, too!)
8. Ripped Words Poem
This is a great way to capture a poem. Have your student find a poem he really enjoys. Instruct him to select a favorite phrase or two. Copy this into a font on the computer that “matches” the tone of the poem. Paint or color a sheet of paper, again in colors that match the poem. (Matching is highly subjective, of course!) Gently rip the poem into separate words and glue on the paper.
Here’s my poetry challenge to you: pick a project for each week of April, gather your supplies, and have some fun with poetry!
Sarah Small writes about homeschooling, writing, parenting, and life in general at SmallWorld at Home. She is in her 12th year of homeschooling, currently with a 9th grader and a 5th grader. Her older son, who was homeschooled all the way through high school, is a sophomore in college. The Smalls live near the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee.