A short tutorial with tips on how to help kids enjoy poetry. Read to them, Perform poetry with them, play rhyming games, write poems for them>
Do you enjoy poetry but your grandchildren, children, younger siblings or nieces and nephews don't? Here are five ways to help children like poetry.
Doing this is a way to keep you from being bored and the child from being bored. If you don't like mother goose rhymes, don't read them. There are many good childrens books, that may peak your interest and theirs. Authors like A. A. Milne, Bruce Lansky, and Shel Silverstein are good places to start. Just read things you enjoy. As a general rule if you don't enjoy it, they won't, because they see no enthusiasm coming from you. Not to say, that they will always like what you like, but you do need to enjoy what you teach.
Rhyming games are a great place to start when teaching younger kids about poetry and of course helping them to enjoy it more. They probably won't understand to much about the literary devices and self expression other forms of poetry like free verse and blank verse use, but they may understand rhyme. One simple game involves making up silly rhymes like "I can tickle the purple pickle", then you let them try to make up a rhyming sentence. I does not matter if their sentence actually makes sense or even if the make up a word to ryme with the one they started out with, all you are trying to do with rhyming games is to help them understand and enjoy ryhme (and later poetry). If they make up a word to rhyme with elbow like "telbow" at least it shows they grasp the concept. You will want to steer them on to "sense" later but what is wrong with a little nonsense every now and then?
Performing poetry is of course taking a poem and "acting it out". You take on the attitude or position of the main character. For example in McElligot's pool by Dr. Suess, the book starts out with a boy fishing in a filthy pond. If you wanted to act this out you could have the child stick a broom handle (the fishing rod) over a trash can (the pool) while depicting this scene. You don't always have to have props either, often just facial expressions, body movements and changing your voice up will work.
This is something my dad did for my sister Bethany and myself. Here is the poem:Little girls have I two
This poem changed as our family grew. After my sisters Melissa, Kimberly, and Lydia were born, He changed it to:Little girls have I plenty
And then when my younger brother was born it became:Little girls have I five
Did these poems help us enjoy poetry more? Well it did for me. Note: All poems copyright of Jesse Duncan Sr.
I used to do this with my sisters. We started out with Winnie the Pooh stories, then Great Day for up and The Cat in the Hat. We also made up our one stories and did radio dramas. We had so much fun finding sound effects for our books, and original stories. I will give you a hint about books on tape though, by cheap tapes and mikes, and don't call it a book on tape call it a radio drama or recording theater, it sounds more fun that way.