Simple Ways to Use Poetry

Today I have a super important request for my teaching pals. The Mailbox editors are wondering how teachers use poetry in their classrooms. In fact, the editors are soooo curious to discover the simple ways y’all use poetry in your classrooms that they are bribing me with chocolate!

Okay, the chocolate part isn’t true. What is true is The Mailbox editors will be evaluating for publication every idea posted on this blog. Each idea that is selected earns a $20 gift certificate, which can be redeemed to purchase magazine subscriptions and books (including our brand-new books) from The Mailbox.

The ideas will be evaluated in the order they are received. Sure hope to hear from you soon!


17 thoughts on “Simple Ways to Use Poetry

  1. At the beginning of the year, students can make acrostic poems with their names. The words must be words that the student would use to describe themselves. At the end of the year, we do the activity again, to see if anything has changed. It is one of the items that will be put into an “end of the year, look how much we’ve grown folder.”

  2. I use poetry each theme with sight words so students have independent reading of poetry at their tables in folders leveled to their needs. The poem packets change every 2-3 weeks depending on our theme. It helps them build sight words, fluency and background knowledge PLUS it is a reference for kids in spelling for their journals. I teach Kindergarten. I do this all year.

  3. I have used a biographical poem to combine writing and social studies. We have written about a famous woman, a famous general, etc.

  4. I started something called, “Poetry Idol,” with my class. On Monday, I allow the students to choose one of five or six poems to recite on Friday. Throughout the week, they practice at home. On Friday, we have our Poetry Idol competition. The students all have grading rubrics to “grade” their classmates. The students take turns being judges, and these three students give feedback on each performance. They tell what they liked, something they wish they’d done differently and something else they liked. At the end, one winner is chosen for each poem. I was AMAZED at what this did for the fluency as well as the interest in poetry in my class! They begged for their poems on Monday, and even my most hesitant readers were eager to perform. Using the rubrics helped kids to pay attention and to see what I was looking for. After just a few weeks, students were interested in finding their own poems to recite. This was definitely one of my favorite activities this year!

  5. I used poetry not only for it’s value in writing and literature, but also to integrate it across the content areas. This is a creative way for students to “show what they know” about a particular unit of study. For example, In Character Education I do a fall lesson called “Precious Pumpkins” where the students create a riddle about themselves (in rhyme) to show how we are all different AND special. In Science it might be an acrostic about a structure in the Solar System. During winter, my students created Snowflake Haiku, and made a model of a snowflake that was inspired by a read aloud. These are just a few of the wonderful ways to use poetry in the classroom.

  6. I have used poetry with my primary students in math. We did this the first two weeks of school. On the first day of school we discussed which of three animals would be the most interesting. The next day we took that animal and I introduced the poem to them. I read it, we read it, they read it. The poems always have to do with basic math skills. For example, for Kindergarten, we did a poem about penguins and practiced counting by one’s to five as the poem called for. For the next week or so we did stations where the students had to manipulate the penguin cut outs and practice counting, as well as filling in the numbers onto the poem chart with numbers in word form and regular form.

  7. Acrostic poems with each student’s name (a like beginning with each letter of their first name)/ season/holiday/theme studying…also since April is poetry month my 1st graders used an idea I found using ‘Where the sidewalk ends’ poem…did several activities and then students chalked on their section of the ‘sidewalk’ (manilla paper-connected while laminating after they finished)and displayed in our school library…of course Dr Seuss has rhymes within stories so this is a good way to introduce rhyming poetry…did several activities with this theme during his birthday week…illustrated favorite book on hats…rewrote/illustrate rhyming lines with ‘new’ vocabulary…main thing is exposure and for students to be engaged while enjoying. 🙂

  8. We did a unit on poetry in first grade by writing a response to literature on different poems. The students would write their opinion of the poem and explain the reasons they liked the poem or didn’t like the poem. The students enjoyed poems that they had to infer the poem was about. Students also had the opportunity to write poems. Some of my students chose to write a poem on the animal they wrote a report of information (nonfiction) on.

  9. We pass out picture cards (to spark ideas, so pictures of nature, animals, place) and we let the children go from there. The cards are for inspirations but they are aloud to write a poem on any topic. Children always get a spark or an idea from looking at their picture or a neighbors and their poems take off from there.

  10. Each of my students get a poetry folder. Each week I give them several new poems to put in their folder. We read the new poems and then students choose poems for us to read aloud as a class. It’s great fluency practice and the students often memorize many of the poems. They keep them in their reading box and will reread them during Read to Self or Read to Someone time. Even my lowest readers can read these poems since we have practiced them together. It’s one of their favorite parts of the week.

  11. I enjoy using poetry in circle time with my preschoolers. We love to make well known and loved poems into finger plays. “Tiger Tiger Burning Bright….I have a little turtle”…….etc
    When my children have washed their hands we stand in the hallway waiting for the last child and I put poems and songs on the wall so that I can recite/sing them with the children -always using our bodies and hands to make the poems come alive.

  12. As a reading teacher, my reading partners and I use poems for fluency. They are short enough that they are not overwhelming to reluctant or struggling readers. Often the rhyme or rhythm makes the oral reading more fun and encourages multiple reads or practices. And multiple readings is what helps kids improve their fluency.

    For holidays, we have had a poetry “coffeehouse” where we give our 2nd graders a selection of poems to practice ( Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky are favorites). The kids reread and practice the poems and then choose one to perform or read aloud at the coffeehouse. We turn down the lights, serve juice and popcorn, and each child takes a turn rereading the poem he has chosen and practiced for the group. The kids sit on a stool in front of the group and we snap our fingers and say things like ” yeah, cool man, wow, great job…” when they finish. We even have an old lava lamps for atmosphere. It has been a really enjoyable way to improve fluency in reading!

  13. I print out a popular poem/nursery rhyme on sentence strips and put them in the pocket chart, then print out the same poem with a corresponding picture to color for my kindergartners. First I read it to them from the pocket chart, then cloze reading, then we read it together, and finally I challenge them to read it by themselves. I send them to their seats with their worksheet (the poem and picture to color) and we read it together again. Then I direct them to get out their yellow markers and highlight specific words, one at a time: the, I, a are the words I focus on earlier in the school year, later I focus on rhyming words or a sight word that’s repeated in the poem. Another project is to highlight the periods, question marks, exclamation marks, quotation marks. Finally they get to color the picture. I do this with the Pledge of Allegiance as well.

  14. Short, rhyming poems have been an excellent way for my pre-k students to remember things, such as the colors of a rainbow:

    Red, orange, yellow,
    Green and blue
    Don’t forget the purple, too.
    Rainbow colors for me and you!

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