Poetry with a Purpose

April became National Poetry Month is 1996, but the benefits of poetry can be enjoyed all year long!


Now if you’re one of those teachers thinking, sure poetry is great and I wish I had time for it but I’m too busy giving assessments teaching curriculum, don’t leave quite yet. Yes, it true poetry can ‘touch the soul’ but it has lots of practical uses in the elementary classroom too.

Whether you’re following Common Core or State Standards we all share some “have tos”. We all teach listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. We all work on patterning, developing phonemic awareness, expanding vocabulary, building comprehension and increasing fluency. You’ve probably already figured out where I’m going with this…poetry can be utilized to achieve goals in all these areas!


So what if you’re interested but have never taught poetry? How does one get kids excited about something that has been taught over a hundred years and doesn’t feel particularly applicable to everyday life? Just like you teach anything else, help kids make connections and make it fun!

Look for ways to incorporate poetry into what you are already doing. You might begin each day with a short poem or read one during that extra transition minute you have because your class did such an awesome job of lining up quickly and quietly. Suggest a poem be read once a week on the morning announcements - they could be original poems read by students, staff members sharing a favorite, or even guest mystery readers from within the community.

When it comes to reading poetry, you want to make good choices in what you share with your students. Edgar Allen Poe has quite the reputation as a poet, but he probably isn’t the best choice for your young audience. When you go to the library, look for more than just the word poetry in the title. Find poems that speak to kids. Ones that make them laugh or revolve around things kids relate to, like these:

Noisy Poems for a Busy Day
by Robert Heidbreder and Lori Joy Smith
Poems about everyday kid things; hugging a dog, climbing a tree, and playing tag.

Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys
by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Ex:
If this puddle could
talk, I think it would tell me
to splash my sister.

Book of Animal Poetry
by National Geographic

There are also several books by Shel Silverstein that kids enjoy, although not every poem may be appropriate for school. If you teach Kinder or First grade students, nursery rhymes are great too; for listening, reading, and acting out.

There are many options for poetry writing too. Often children find pattern poems easier to get started. Here are a couple that I’ve used in my room with success:

ABC Poems

Usually five lines but you can adjust up or down to better meet the ability of your class.
Each line starts with a consecutive letter but you can start anywhere in the alphabet.
Examples: The first word on the first line would start with the letter A and so on with the first word on the last line starting with the letter E. Or start with L and end with P.

Acrostic

Can be any length depending on what word you choose to spell.
The first letter of each line will spell a word vertically down the page.

Cinquain

Five lines
One word creates title on first line.
Two words describe title on second line.
Three verbs describe the action of the title on the third line.
Four feeling words related to the title on the fourth line.
One word that is a synonym or renames the title on the final line.

Diamante

Seven lined poem in the shape of a diamond that does not rhyme.
Line 1: beginning topic (noun)
Line 2: two adjectives about line 1
Line 3: three –ing words about line 1
Line 4: four nouns or a short phrase linking line 1 and 7
Line 5: three –ing words about line 7
Line 6: two adjectives about line 7
Line 7: ending topic (noun)

Haiku

Three lines that do not rhyme; usually written about nature
First line has five syllables.
Second line has seven syllables.
Third line has five syllables.

You can download some free templates to get started with these poems here.


One of the most important parts about poetry writing is sharing your writing with an audience. Celebrations are a great way to motivate and encourage students. You might like to organize one of these:

“Poetry Picnic” – Invite family members to come listen to poems your students have written. Have them bring blankets to spread out on the playground. Create groups of 3-5 students depending on class size and adults attending so that all students have an audience. My whole grade level did this one year and we had volunteers bring cookies and lemonade to complete our celebration.

“Poetry Party” – For those that are on campuses with low parental participation, you can still encourage your students to applaud one another through a classroom celebration. One year I partnered with my librarian and we held one in the library. We invited our principal, counselor, and instructional specialist to be our audience.

“Poetry Pals” – This is probably the one my kids most enjoyed. Team up with another teacher; they don’t even have to be in your grade level. Both classes write poems and then pick a day to get together for the kids to share their favorites. It works well to predetermine partners between the two classes. If you have enough time, you can even have partners work together to create a pattern poem and then groups can share with each other.

One final note…when you are challenged by that child that believes they can’t write poetry. You can tell them about a great poet named Robert Frost who once wrote, “I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.”

Spring Classroom Decor

Feeling the end of winter blues? Between too many indoor recess days due to cold weather and being caught in a giant game of flu tag most teachers are feeling like they could use an energy boost about now. One of the quickest ways to lift your spirits and breathe some enthusiasm into your classroom is to brighten your environment. Spring decor is perfect for adding some fresh color with rainbows or flowers. Use can also change out bulletin boards to pique the interest of your students using spring themes such as weather, Earth Day, or life cycles.


We’ve gathered a few ideas here for a little inspiration:

































Need more ideas? Check out our Pinterest boards!


Grand Slam Giveaway

We're excited to help you start "spring training" with your students! February 20th through February 21st you have the opportunity to win 1 of 4 $100 TpT Gift Cards!!! After you win one of these gift cards, you'll also be able to shop some amazing $2 deals from a select group of TpT authors on February 22nd.


To enter the giveaways below, simply click on each link to visit as many of the 38 TpT stores participating in the giveaway. The more stores you visit, the more entries you earn! To complete your entry, follow the store and let us know what follower number you are. If you're already following the store (because you're awesome), then let us know the name of one of the featured resources in the store. Easy, right? Now start entering!



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Books, Videos, and Resources for Teaching About Thanksgiving

Teaching about holidays can be fun, but they are also required. At least they are in Texas. In early elementary, we talk about the origins of customs, holidays, and celebrations celebrated in the community, state, and nation. Among those holidays is Thanksgiving. Unlike some holidays, such as Constitution Day, students are most likely familiar with Thanksgiving and probably celebrate it at home. However, our younger students may not be familiar with the story of Thanksgiving or understand its significance.


There are many ways to talk about Thanksgiving in your classroom. Check out the following videos, books, and resources to help supplement your lesson plans.

Introducing Elf on the Shelf in the Classroom

Elf on the Shelf has been a well known tradition since 2005, but increases with popularity every year! The official Elf on the Shelf website describes the tradition as follows "Santa’s scout elves help him manage his naughty and nice lists. During the Christmas season, the elves are adopted by families and fly back to the North Pole every night to tell Santa about the day’s adventures. When the elves return from their nightly North Pole journey, they hide in a new spot and wait for their families to find them!" While the original story of the elves was for families, it is easily adaptable to use in your classroom. In fact, you can register through the Elf on the Shelf website to receive K-5 lesson plans.

Use an Elf on the Shelf to keep your students on their toes this December! You'll be amazed at how many behavior issues are managed with the elf between Thanksgiving and Christmas at school!