Friday, April 27, 2012

Teaching Poetry

I finally did it. I dove head first into poetry this week. Confession time: I've always been totally intimidated by poetry. It goes way back to high school when we'd have to read a poem and discuss what it was "really about". I was so literal and had such a hard time with poetry. As a teacher, I just didn't know where to begin. But this year, I was inspired by all the fabulous bloggers out there talking about Poetry Month, and I decided I just needed to go for it. How can I teach my kids to take chances with their writing, if I'm not doing the same? After having some success with our Earth Day poems, I was feeling a little more confident. Here are a couple of things we did this week:

We made this poem as a class:

First, we brainstormed a list of spring words. 
(The butterfly was just a prop to get them excited about our class poem. It worked!)

Then, we used our colored sticky notes to think of an adjective and a verb for each of these spring words. I wrote all the ideas on the white board and then we voted for our finalists. 

Here's our final product again:
My first graders came up with all of the words so they felt ownership of this poem.  I know it's pretty basic, but it got my students feeling like they too could write poetry. They were excited about their finished product. 

Then my class really wanted to write a rhyming poem. They wanted to keep with the spring theme again. So we went for it and here's what we came up with:

Someone suggested the first line, "Spring is here." Then as a group, we brainstormed words that rhyme with here. Someone came up with cheer, so they started giving suggestions about how to use the word cheer at the end of the sentence. Then we decided to think of two nouns and add verbs with them for the next few lines, just to simplify our poem.  Plus, we thought it sounded good that way. :) We added the verbs to the nouns and tried to find rhymes to go with them. We ended up shuffling words around, based on which word was the easiest to find a rhyming pair. For example, we first had winds blow, water falls, but we had a hard time finding a rhyming word for falls that would fit into our poem. So we switched it because someone thought of winds blow for the next line. I love the last line. They worked hard to make that one work. This was such an interactive process and the kids really enjoyed it. They all felt like poets! 

So there you go! I hope this helps someone out there who was as intimidated to teach poetry as I was. It doesn't have to be perfect, just get those kids writing and playing with words. We had a great time! Even though April is over next week, I still want to try a few more poems. I'll keep you posted!


  1. Love this! Will definitely use next week!

    Peace, Love, and First Grade

  2. What a cute activity! I love your students' poems. And good on you for overcoming your fear. I've disliked poetry since high school too and was also very literal :-)

    -Charmaine, Community Advocate at QuickSchools

  3. Wow,I love the poem,it's perfect for my elementary classes and it's amazing to think your kiddos helped you in creating it.

    Enjoy Teaching English

  4. I know exactly how you feel. Poetry is not my forte either. I'm starting my unit next week. Love your butterfly idea. Thanks for sharing.

  5. You have inspired me to really jump into it next week after we run out of our reading program! Yes we'll actually finish our reading program with 2 weeks left to teach. So we're winging it and doing lots of review! I try to do writing in my classroom and after we do our author celebrations we'll jump into some poetry. Y'all did great with yours!

  6. Thank you from a homeschooling mom who didn't know where to start with teaching poetry. This is the perfect start for my 1st grader (and me too!)

  7. I am currently in school for Education and did a poetry until during my Language Arts practicum. It was very intimidating! I am blessed to be able to go back to the same classroom for my student teaching and will be doing poetry again and Love these ideas! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Its been pretty necessary for the students to reflect upon in accordance with such circumstantial piece ideas and hopefully they would be having a good time as well. professional literature review