If I was in front of a class of students today, I’d open my lesson with this question. “Do you know what we celebrate during April?”
In April, we celebrate National Poetry Month. Of course, poetry means different things to different people. As a child, I was required to memorize poems. I loved that and can still recite many of them. Rhyme intrigued me and I love to write rhyming verse.
However, it’s important for all of us to recognize that poetry does not have to rhyme. There are many structures and many ways for adults and kids alike to tap into playng with language and sharing ideas and feelings in a concise manner.
Packed with power, poetry helps us get to the heart of the matter. It strips away extraneous words and uses well-chosen words, allowing our voice to be heard.
By now, parents and kids have been home together for weeks. The novelty is wearing off and we have to find new ways to challenge ourselves and continue to add a dose of fun to learning. To this end, I came up with a Poetry Challenge for our family during the month of April. Obviously, this is targeted at keeping the grand kids engaged, enhancing their learning and having fun together at the same time. Let me explain…
Yesterday I had a Zoom meeting with three of my grand kids. Two of the others weren’t able to connect and four of the older ones weren’t around. No worries. I rolled out my ideas and they seemed interested. Of course, I had to sweeten the pot a little and offer prizes at the end of the month based on a point system. My grandson asked,
“What are the prizes, Mimi?”
“Well, I haven’t decided yet, but they might be monetary prizes. Do you know what that means?”
They quickly figured it out and were all in. Here’s how it will work:
Each Monday, I will have a Zoom Meeting with the kids. I’ll share various poetic structures and provide examples. Then, they can earn 5 points for any part of the challenge that they do. They will send their poems to me, I’ll edit them (a teaching moment) and send them back. The kids will post their poems and videos to our family text thread for all to enjoy. I’ll also keep their poems and drawings and compile a book so we will have these to enjoy permanently. As you can see, I’m also encouraging the parents to participate. It will be great modeling and definitely add to the fun.
Within an hour after our meeting, Shannon, one of my 8 year old grand daughters, send me a wonderful poem, a drawing and a photograph.
Check it out:
Sister of Patrick
Smart, kind, athletic
Who loves family, candy and, sports
Who feels happy and excited when playing basketball
Who needs love, attention, stuffed animals
Who gives love, kindness and art supplies
Who fears spiders, kidnapping, and a house fire
Who’d like to see a Sixers’ game
Who dreams of being in the WNBA
A student of Mr.Garcia
I was thrilled. Not much later, her brother submitted six poems. Wow! Nothing like a little competition. My husband and I got a good laugh and I am so pleased with their enthusiasm.
Knowing so many parents are searching for positive ways to navigate this difficult time, I offer this little challenge to you. Perhaps you will use it as is, tweak it in some way or simply come up with a new idea. Do keep in mind the many benefits of reading, writing, discussing and reciting poetry. More on this as we go through April. Please be generous and share your ideas and comments. We are all in this together. Stay well!
These are the guidelines I sent to the parents (our children & their spouses) and kids:
Celebrating Poetry Month Together
During the month of April:
- Mimi will show you a new type of poem on Zoom every Monday
- Parents are welcome and encouraged to participate in any/all ways. We would love that. There will be a good prize for the adult that writes the most poems or shares the most videos of themselves reading a poem.
- Kids will earn 5 points for Part 1, sharing themselves reading a poem, 5 points for Part 2, writing a poem and 5 points for Part 3, submitting a drawing. At the end of April, kids will earn prices based on the number of points they have earned.
- You can do all three activities or just some of them…whatever you want. Let’s just have learn a little more about poetry, share our creativity and have fun together.
Have fun everyone! Can’t wait to see your wonderful poems, drawings & readings.
- Find a poem that you like.
- Practice reading it with expression.
- Make a video of yourself reading it.
- Share it with us via a text.
Here are some ideas:
The Wind by Christina Rosetti
Hold Fast to Dreams by Langston Hughes
The Oak by Alfred Lord Tennyson
My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear
The Leak in the Dyke by Phoebe Cary
The Fog by Carl Sandburg
Write a poem about yourself or someone you love. You can use this form or just write one on your own.
Write a poem about yourself using this form or another poetry form.
Line 1: __ Your name
Line 2: _, _, _ 3 personal characteristics or physical traitsLine 4: Who loves__, __, and __ 3 people, things, ideas
Line 5: Who feels__ about__1 emotion about 1 thing
Line 6: Who needs__, __, and __ 3 things you need
Line 7: Who gives __, __, and __3 objects you share
Line 8: Who fears__, __, and __3 items
Line 9: Who’d like to see, __1 place, or person
Line 10: Who dreams of __ 1 item or idea
Line 11: A student of__ your school or teacher’s name
Line 12: __ Nickname or repeat your first name
Draw or paint a picture to go with your poem or find a photograph that goes with your poem.
Here’s an example based on the poem Charlotte, Patrick and Ave collaborated on today:
Mother of Michael, Matt, Jack, Rose and Joe
Who loves books, grandchildren and Pop-Pop
Who feels nervous and scared about amusement rides
Who needs water, warmth, laughter
Who gives gifts, money and love
Who would like to see her family
Who fears rollercoasters, cold and conflict
Who would like to see her family
Who dreams of being an author
A student of life