I am going to make a confession on this blog post. I am not a huge lover of poetry. I absolutely would not pick up a book of poetry to read for fun. I prefer to read literature that is more straightforward than poetry is. By nature, I don’t express myself poetically. However, I have always included poetry in Sprite’s language arts curriculum, and she greatly enjoys poetry. Granted, she is much more of a creative thinker than I, but I credit my consistent poetry lessons to her appreciation of the form.
My method of studying poetry is very simple.
My Steps for Studying Poetry (with thanks to Charlotte Mason)
1. Get a poetry anthology that fits your child’s age.
2. Read a poem to your child each day.
3. Ask your child to tell you back what he heard, in other words narrate the poem.
4. Discuss the poem if desired. Ask your child to read the poem occasionally.
5. Periodically (2-4 times monthly) have your child copy a poem into a poetry notebook.
It is truly that simple.
My method is a slight diversion from Charlotte Mason’s method of studying the work of a single poet in-depth for an entire term (much like her suggestions for artist study and composer study which we do follow). For elementary and middle school years, I find that technique too stifling. Instead, we skip around our anthology, choosing whatever poet and whatever form strikes our fancy. Sometimes I choose; sometimes Sprite chooses. My objective is simply to expose her to the language and forms of poetry, and I find that variety works best to achieve my goal.
The beauty of this method is that although our poetry time is very short –ten minutes at the maximum, the daily repetition builds up a wealth of experience with poetry. As a consequence, Sprite is not intimidated by poetry in the least.
Do we skip some days? Sure we do. Do we ever go weeks when poetry is neglected? Yes, that happens. But the general rule is one poem per day. Sometimes I am able to do some crossover into other academic areas with our poetry. Two examples are math and art.
At different times we informally studied poetic devices such as personification, metaphor, simile, and alliteration and discussed those in terms of the poems we read.
My Favorite Poetry Anthologies
- The 20th Century Children’s Poetry Treasury
- Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young
- The Random House Book of Poetry for Children
- Poetry Speaks to Children (Book & CD)
- Classic Poems to Read Aloud
Read Poetry Outloud
Notebooking has a prominent place in our homeschool, and poetry is included in that. For many years, Sprite’s poetry notebook was a collection of poems which she copied onto notebooking pages (copywork, really). My general practice was to allow her to select one of the poems we had recently studied to add to her notebook.
By copying the poems she is getting these benefits:
- working on handwriting
- focusing on the format of poems
- seeing spellings
- reading advanced grammatical structures
- writing sophisticated vocabulary
- considering figures of speech
From her perspective, she enjoyed making a collection of her favorite poems, many of which she illustrated herself.
Now that Sprite is in middle school (7th grade), I have added a study of poetic forms. We are using A Child’s Introduction to Poetry as our spine and complementing with the free printable notebooking pages at Notebooking Fairy for eleven different poetic forms:
- Limerick & Nonsense Verse
- Nursery Rhymes
- Narrative Poetry & Haiku
- Lyric Verse & Free Verse
- Pastoral & Sonnet
So now her poetry notebook has pages about different kinds of poems as well as the poems themselves.
As we continue in A Child’s Introduction to Poetry, we will be looking at some of the most famous poets. Probably in eighth or ninth grade I will shift to Charlotte Mason’s recommendation of studying one poet per term. I really like the Poetry for Young People series for this purpose, but we’ll see when we get there.
Do your children enjoy poetry? What have you found to be the best poetry resource? Please share in the comments below.