Wondering how to teach poetry to kids in your K-2 classroom? Use these simple and effective ideas to make your lessons fun for students!
Make Teaching Poetry Fun in K-2
No literacy program is complete without teaching poetry. For some people, that might be a fun part of your curriculum already. For others, that might be something you avoid or downplay as unimportant. But the power that poetry has to teach important skills in the classroom should not be overlooked.
There are many reasons to include poetry in your literacy curriculum:
- The richness of the language can help build vocabulary.
- Discussions about poetry can build comprehension.
- Poetry often inspires kids to pick up a pencil and write their own, thus giving them a unique way of expressing themselves.
- Poetry, written in a form different from regular prose, can foster creative thinking.
It’s clear that using poetry in the classroom is beneficial. But where do we start? How do we integrate poetry into our language arts classroom?
The benefits of teaching poetry should motivate us to look for ways to let it enrich our teaching. Below are helpful suggestions for how you can begin using poetry in your literacy instruction today!
When to Teach Poetry
Poems can fit into EVERY DAY. They can be used to teach so many different skills: vocabulary, comprehension, spelling, rhyming, rhythm, even science or social studies, depending on the subject of the poem.
A fun way to get poetry into your daily routine is to start a Poem of the Week routine. Begin the week with a poem that fits with the season or a theme you are studying. It is good to post the poem somewhere in the classroom. I like to have it on sentence strips, in a pocket chart. Each morning read it aloud together as a class.
- On the day you first introduce the poem, look at patterns in it.
- Discuss rhyming words, if there are any.
- Talk about the meaning of the poem and themes that stick out.
- As a class, you can lead discussions about what the poet meant, the main idea of the poem, etc.
- Each day, practice the weekly poem with activities related to it. Talking through the answers afterward as a class can be beneficial.
- Poem of the Week Activity Mats provides helpful daily practice.
How to Teach Poetry
There are many activities that lend themselves to a weekly poem. The ideas are limitless, but below are some to get you started. As with most skills, a combination of independent work and group work is most effective.
Independently or in literacy centers, students can:
- practice writing out the poem of the week for both handwriting practice and to help them memorize it
- use graphic organizers to help analyze poetry
- use poetry templates to create their own poems. This is good for exploring different poem formats (limerick, free verse, haiku, acrostic, rhyming, etc).
- write shape poems using templates. Read the free tutorial here.
- draw pictures to illustrate the meaning of the poem
In small groups, students can:
- work together to put sentence strips of the poem of the week or another related poem in order.
- discuss each person’s favorite part of the poem or what they like/dislike about it.
- create a poem together– each person writing a line in order to create a collaborative poem.
As a whole class, students can:
- hear you read poems from famous poets.
- practice and memorize classic poems or nursery rhymes.
- include difficult words in their vocabulary words for the week.
Wrap it up:
At the end of the week, review the poem and any vocabulary words or concepts that emerged from that poem. Have students share with the class a poem they have written or hang up kids’ illustrations of the poems.
What Poems and Activities to Use
- Poem of the week – As mentioned above, practicing one poem per week is a great method. For engaging poems and activities for every week of the school year, check out the Poem of the Week bundle.
- Nursery Rhymes – Don’t forget about nursery rhymes! Though simple and sometimes silly, nursery rhymes are an excellent way of teaching literacy. Kids LOVE Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, and The Itsy Bitsy Spider!
- Poetry Books – Read from popular books of poetry. For example, Where the Sidewalk Ends or The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Get ideas of poetry books to use during your lessons here.
Are you feeling inspired to share the world of poetry with your students? Do you see how this concept can strengthen and enrich your literacy curriculum?
Once poetry is a daily part of your instruction and routine, you’ll find deep enjoyment from it! Using the tools and ideas above, what can you do in your classroom TODAY to get started?
FREE Resources for Teaching Poetry
Support your students to read and write poetry all week long with engaging poems and activities!
Grab a FREE Poem of the Week resource that includes 2 original poems and 1 nursery rhyme to add to your collection of poems.
Click the image below to download a free sample of poems and activities.
FREE Social-Emotional Learning Poem & Activities
This FREE empathy poetry pack includes an original poem and engaging activities. The poem and activities will help you teach the concept of empathy and build important reading skills at the same time.
Click the image below to get the resource.
FREE “I’m a Little Student” Poem & Activity Mats
This FREE Poetry Mat sample pack includes an original poem and engaging activities. The poem and activities is great for back to school!
Click the image below to get the resource.
Find more free poetry activities and other helpful poetry links HERE.
More Poetry Ideas for Teachers
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