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Bringing poetry to pre-k children - National Poetry Month

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As we celebrate National Poetry Month with the focus on preschool age children that provides them the opportunity to learn new vocabulary words, ideas and real-life experiences through the eyes of what the poet wants seen in the words heard. Through repetition of simple poems shared in the classroom as adults they can still recite them such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “ABC song”. Poetry can be used for the following reasons with preschoolers:

  1. Expose children to classic and contemporary poetry,
  2. Provide enjoyment in poems in silly words and humor,
  3. Stimulate children’s imagination and write dictation (word-for-word), and
  4. Increase vocabulary.

While looking for poetry that relate and/or reinforce study theme remember they can be described as the following:

  1. Lyric melodic – descriptive poetry that often has a song quality,
  2. Narrative poetry – tells a story or describes an event or happening,
  3. Limerick – a poem with five lines of verse set in a specific rhyming patter usually humorous,
  4. Free verse poetry – does not rhyme, and
  5. Nonsense poetry – often is ridiculous and whimsical.

As you recite the old classic nursery songs with children such as “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush”, “London Bridge is Falling Down”, “Three Blind Mice” and so forth you want to encourage children to dictate their own poems. Remember, when children are dictating their poems write down verbatim, with no editing from you because they are the author. If you need help in embedding poetry into the study theme, check out these books.

  1. Ghigna, C. (1995(. Riddle rhymes. New York: Hyperion,
  2. Moore, H. H. (1997). A poem a day. New York: Scholastic,
  3. Prelusky, J. (1986). Read-aloud rhymes for the very young. New York: Knopf, and
  4. Roemer, H. (2004). Come to my party and other shape poems. New York: Henry Holt.

An activity you can do with the children is create a “Poetry Quilt”. Select the children’s favorite poem and read helping them to think what they would draw, paint and/or use collage materials to tell what the poem means to them. Provide materials for the children to use in creating their “Poetry Quilt” once completed add words stated by children to quilt pieces.

The poetry quilt activity can be extended by placing tape recorders throughout the classroom and record children’s conversations. At the end of the day, listen to the tape with co-teacher then write down the best lines to create class poem. The next day, share with children the wonderful poetry they created while playing in centers and they can create “Class Poetry Quilt”.

Here are some helpful websites as you continue to plan activities for celebrating National Poetry Month exposing children to poetry throughout the school year. First, is “The Academy of American Poets at http://www.poets.org and select “For Educators” link. Second, is “Famous Poetry Online at http://www.poetry-online.org and select Poetry for Children, then Funny Poetry. And third, is “Poets House” at http://poetshouse.org. Click on Collection and then Children’s Room.

Poetry is one way to help preschoolers express what is going on in the world around them. Knowledge is powerful.

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