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Poetry in Homeschool

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Verse for Children

April is National Poetry Month. Does your homeschool language arts curriculum include the study of poetry? Whether you're striving to incorporate more poetry into your curriculum or whether you are looking for a poetry unit study, this web page should offer some resources.

Charlotte Mason suggested that children often hear poetry read aloud. Occasionally they should memorize and recite poems. And she also recommended using poetry for copywork and dictation.

Just like her ideas on artist study and composer study, she felt it best to focus on the poetry of a single writer for an extended time (6-12 weeks). To supplement, she allowed the addition of a biography about that poet.

How to Study (and Teach) Poetry

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There are many ways to tackle the study of poetry. I believe that the Charlotte Mason way is probably best -- incorporating it into your regular curriculum by reading poems (at the very least) weekly. I have chosen to read at least one poem each day. That helps us to make poetry reading an enjoyable habit that we are not likely to forget.

Charlotte Mason recommended studying the same poet for an entire term (6-12 weeks). You might select Robert Louis Stevenson or Christina Rossetti for a traditional style. See more poets recommended by Charlotte Mason at Simply Charlotte Mason.

Or maybe you'd rather have a humorous poet such as Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky to motivate a younger or reluctant learner.

Perhaps you admire Miss Mason's ideas but find the study of one poet all term a bit dry. My suggestion is to buy an anthology of poetry that offers a wide variety. With the anthology, you could study by themes/topics, by forms (ballad, sonnet, limerick, etc.), or just at random.

Whatever you choose, make sure to include a POETRY slot in your schedule sheet or preferred record keeping device. If you have a blank there, you will be more apt to fill it in by reading poetry.

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Random House Book of Poetry for Children

This is my number one choice of a poetry anthology, especially if you are just starting out with elementary students. The engaging poems are sure to create a love for poetry! When you pull out this volume, the children will cry, "Yeah! Poetry time!"

For a more detailed review, see my post at The Curriculum Choice

Choosing a Poetry Anthology

Of course, there are many options for poetry anthologies. Most any one you choose would serve you well throughout an entire school year or possibly longer.

Things to consider when choosing a poetry anthology

1. What kinds of poems are included? Modern, classic, or a mix?

2. What is the level of the poems? Difficult or easy?

3. What is the tone of the poems? Lighthearted or serious?

If you'd like recommendations from another homeschool mom, visit The Homeschool Classroom's article Reading Poetry with Children.

Another good source for poems is the Poetry Foundation. There are pages for different age groups from early childhood to young adults.

Or if you're looking for poetry for high schoolers, try the Poetry 180 project. This was created by Billy Collins a Former Poet Laureate of the United States. The idea is one poem per day for each of the 180 days of the school year. This selection is decidedly modern and multi-cultural.

The Nitty Gritty of a Poetry Lesson

This is how I actually do poetry study with my daughter.

First, I read the poem outloud to her twice. The first time I may stumble over something. But the second time, I can read it with confidence and better phrasing.

Second, I ask my daughter, "What did you understand?" This is the narration stage when she retells what she heard. At this point, I can find out what she did and did not comprehend. What she shares here lays the foundation for my next steps.

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If she didn't seem to understand a certain part, I will read that again and help her with any new vocabulary or figures of speech.

If she really liked a certain turn of phrase or idea, I will read that again as well just to let her enjoy it again.

If she totally omitted part of the poem in her narration, I will read that section again to help her focus.

Of course, I have my own reactions to a poem, and I will share those with my daughter as well. I especially like to emphasize beautiful phrases that describe something extremely well.

If you feel inadequate to discuss a poem, this Responding to Poetry form is a good place to start. But as you gain experience, you will learn the questions to ask.

Then once we both feel that we have connected with the poem, I read it one last time outloud.

Often, but not always, I will ask her to read it outloud at the very end.

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These "lessons" are very short -- just 2-4 minutes long. You certainly don't want to dissect the poem to death, especially with elementary students. The goal is to create a love of the sound of poetic language and to encourage that same poetic skill with words.

For middle school or high school aged students, you may find this Poetry Evaluation chart helpful for taking notes about a specific poem. There is room for them to note symbolism, imagery, rhyme, their own feelings, etc.

And be sure to visit Barb's thoughts on teaching poetry to high school boys if your children are getting older. She also has an entire lens on the topic -- Poetry Lesson Plans and Ideas. These are a wealth of high school poetry studies, already laid out for you to use.

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Ideas for Poetry Study

  • Introduce your children to poetry at a young age -- even in preschool.
  • Begin your homeschool day with a poem.
  • Create a personal anthology of favorite poems in a poetry notebook.
  • Organize a poetry contest in your homeschool co-op or through your blog.
  • Record audio files (or cassettes) of reading poems aloud. Share them with others.
  • Organize a student poetry reading or recitation at the local library, at your co-op, or just at the dinner table.
  • Hold a poetry exchange day with poems wrapped as gifts.
  • Listen to free audio recordings of poetry.
  • Use poems for copywork.
  • Use poems for dictation.
  • Print out copies of poetry and illustrate all around the text. Add the page to a poetry notebook.
  • Use poems for typing or word processing practice.
  • Host a Poetry Day.
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Memorizing Poetry

Poetry makes for great memorizing material! The rhythms and rhymes make it a tad easier than memorizing prose.

Do you recognize this famous scowling poet? Yes, it's Edgar Allen Poe.

Teaching Poetry

  • Waking the Poet Within at Charlotte Mason Help
    Linda Fay explains how she came to love poetry and how she incorporates it into her homeschool.
  • Poems That Work!
    Richard Guidone of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute writes this article which is jam-packed with specific ideas about teaching poetry. It's geared towards classroom teachers, but the concepts are applicable to homeschooling.
  • April is Poetry Month
    Nadene at Practical Pages shares how she integrates poetry into her homeschool lessons.

Poetry Lesson Plans

  • Homeschool Share
    HSS offers poetry unit study plans and even free poetry lapbooking templates.
  • Scholastic National Poetry Month
    Great ideas about writing and enjoying poetry for the elementary crowd, many with printable PDFs.
  • Poets.org Lesson Plans
    These are high school level plans written by classroom teachers.
  • 30 Days of Poetry
    This set of 30 lessons teaches students how to write poems!
  • Poetry Forms
    Using prompts, these online forms help you write simple poems.
  • Poetry Class
    More tips and lesson ideas for teaching children how to write very upbeat and fun poems.

Funny Poetry for Children

If your children are reluctant to study poetry, starting with humorous poems can be a great way to change their attitudes.

Poetry Reference Sites

  • Figures of Speech
    A great chart with definitions and examples.
  • Poetry for Kids
    If you want to learn the various forms of poetry (limerick, ballad, Haiku, etc.), this site is a great foundation!
  • Poetry at Librivox
    I love Librivox! You can download FREE MP3 files of classics (all in the public domain). This link will take you to all the poetry listings at Librivox. Look for poems of Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Jabberwocky by Louis Carroll, Robert Frost, Chris

Poetry Study Guestbook

joseph-sottile-16 on August 17, 2013:

Shel Silverstein is the best children's poet of all time!

blessedmomto7 on April 15, 2013:

I could barely get through your lens because I kept clicking through to all your other lenses. Great resources, thank you so much from a fellow homeschool mom!

CottageHomestead on July 05, 2012:

I love Shel Silverstein poems!!! Great lens!

anonymous on May 03, 2012:

Have you all checked out The Grammar of Poetry? New video course designed for homeschoolers, high-production value course. For 6-9th grade. It's based off the best selling book by Matt Whitling. Check it out at http://www.thegrammarofpoetry.com

Evelyn Saenz from Royalton on April 01, 2012:

One of the things that I love about the Charlotte Mason method are the beautiful illustrations and when accompanied by poetry, what a beautiful education.

Just had to stop back again to bless this lens. :)

Frankie Kangas from California on September 24, 2011:

Excellently done. Blessed. Bear hugs, Frankster

kimmanleyort on September 16, 2011:

A great poetry resource for homeschooling families and others. Incorporating poetry every day is a wonderful practice. Blessed.

oktalBlizzard on August 24, 2011:

This is wonderful!

Poetry is healthy.

efriedman on July 05, 2011:

Good to think that poetry is being included in a curriculum. I liked the poetry notebook idea.

DianaHarper LM on May 28, 2011:

Wait - I meant Shel Silverstein.

DianaHarper LM on May 28, 2011:

I enjoyed this lens. Maybe I will take Sidney Sheldon on our 16 hour road trip : )

Philippians468 on April 14, 2011:

oh yes i do believe in teaching children poetry to give them an additional outlet to express themselves! cheers

David Stone from New York City on April 02, 2011:

Nice! Lensrolling to my "I Am A Poet" lens and "Ezra Pound Poems."

deldobuss on April 01, 2011:

We love poetry- but we read it mostly for enjoyment purposes only. My girls have enjoyed the Poetry for Young People series. Each book contains selected prose from a major poet and lovely illustrations to go along.

Evelyn Saenz from Royalton on April 01, 2011:

Poetry brings a unit study alive with vibrant immagry, exciting new vocabulary and delightful ideas that might not have otherwise come to mind. Thank you for all these wonderful resources for learning poetry in a homeschool setting.

Blessed by a SquidAngel.

Patricia on February 19, 2011:

Lovely lens! Blessing it and featuring it on my poetry angel lens!

cesargealogo lm on January 20, 2011:

The resources you have presented here on how to make poetry a part of life is terrific. I have written a hundreds of poem yet, your page amaze me. There are really lot of things to be learn in the poetry world and your lens could be of help specially for people who are inclined into poetry. Wonderful!

Regards,

http://www.cesargealogo.com

Barb McCoy on January 12, 2011:

How come I haven't been here before? Lovely lens on poetry and I will be linking to it in my high school poetry lens that is in the works. Thanks Jimmie. ***Blessed by an Angel***

mysterious2528 on November 06, 2010:

I love the pictures of poetry on this page. My poetry lens is still growing, but I hope to make it as nice as this one.

blessedmomto7 on November 03, 2010:

I need to add poetry to my language arts study in our homeschool. Some great ideas here especially for a reluctant Middle School boy. Have you ever used "The Word Artist" by Susan Kemmerer? Another great resource for writing poetry! Thumbs up!

anonymous on April 29, 2010:

I really enjoyed this lens and will come back to digest it in more detail.

You might be interested in the children's poetry magazine that I publish (a print, rather than online magazine). We homeschool our own kids and the magazine features poems from a number of homeschooled kids in each issue... though I don't actually make a big deal about that...kids are kids! The website is www.thescrumbler.com.

Moe Wood from Eastern Ontario on April 15, 2010:

¨¨¨°º©©º° This lens has been blessed! °º©©º°¨¨¨

tandemonimom lm on April 06, 2010:

This lens has been featured on the Homeschool Club on Facebook for April!

professoratworldstar on March 16, 2010:

What a fantastic lense! Thanks so much! I am a poetry fan and so is my son, I'm rather proud to say (His favorite poet is William Blake). I started a blog for him awhile ago, where I collect all his "online curriculum" (links and things I've gathered for him to explore online) and this includes poetry, of course! So thank you for giving me lots of ideas! Great squidoo-ing!

Tatiana

www.worldstaracademy.com

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on November 19, 2009:

Wonderful lens about Poetry in Homeschool. I still remember most of the poems that I learned in school. Lensrolling to my lens about a book of Southern Poetry called Reflections Of A Mississippi Magnolia

tandemonimom lm on May 05, 2009:

Excellent lens, as usual! Welcome to The Homeschooling Group - you're a featured lens!

Simeyc1 on April 08, 2009:

Very interesting and detailed Lens! thanks!

Ruth Coffee from Zionsville, Indiana on February 14, 2009:

If I were homeschooling this lens would be a god-send, great work!

JJNW from USA on September 22, 2008:

Yay for homeschooling where we can play with words! Fabulous! I favorited this page and lensrolled you to my Homeschooling High School Squidoo page. Thanks!

Patricia on August 26, 2008:

I like this lens a lot! Very cool!

anonymous on March 26, 2008:

Awesome job once again Jimmie.

Thank you for this rich resource.

In gratitude,

Linda

groovyoldlady on February 19, 2008:

O po-et-ry, I long for thee, to be with me, as I pee.

As you can see, I am a true lover of verse.

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