Poetry in the Elementary Classroom AND a giveaway

28 March 2015 / 9 comments

Hi, everyone! This is Melissa from Teacher Treasure Hunter. I am now officially on spring break and that makes me HAPPY! Something else that makes me happy is poetry. :)

April is the perfect time to share a poem with your class - or even write one! It's National Poetry Month and April 30th is Poem in Your Pocket Day.
I'm not sure what inspired my love for poetry, but I'm sure a big influence was Anne (with an e) Shirley. I absolutely loved these books and thought the movies were so fun - and romantic! Is it possible to hear Anne quote The Highwayman (Alfred Noyes) and not be captivated? Surely I wasn't the only one who thought it would be glorious to be Anne floating down the river as she imagined herself the doomed heroine of the beautiful poem the Lady of Shalott (Alfred Tennyson) - even if the boat did sink! It didn't hurt that she was rescued by Gilbert!

I teach 1st grade and we don't read Tennyson! However, there are so many ways to engage elementary students in poetry reading and writing so they acquire a love for words. Poetry will help younger students with many language skills including rhyming, vocabulary and descriptive words.
Here are some ideas for implementing poetry reading into your classroom:
1) Use a projector (or copies of a poem) to guide a choral reading of a poem.
2) Read the poem as a small group. Take turns having a small group read the poem or just take turns reading stanzas (sections).
3) Let the students read the poem in pairs. Each one can read a part of the poem. They can work together to practice reading the poem as a team or in parts so they can read it to the class.
4) Use a spiral notebook to have the students create a poetry notebook. They can glue new poems into their notebook. These poems can go into their reading bag with their other books so they can read it during SSR or Daily 5. The poetry notebook can also be sent home as a homework reading assignment.
One of the great things about poetry reading is that it can be used to help build fluency through repeated readings. Students can read the poem multiple times to practice reading it smoothly and with expression. They can re-read the poem for information. I've made a worksheet for my students to respond to a poem after reading it. You can download this free worksheet here.

There are many places to find poems for your classroom. Make sure that the poems are in the public domain or there is copyright permission to print or copy the poetry for your classroom.
Here are a few places to find poems to use in the classroom:
1) Poetry Anthologies - Look for books of collected poems at your library that you can read to the class. These books may be a general collection or a themed collection. There are poetry books that have only bug poems or poems about food. Look for some fun collections to share with your classroom. Scholastic and other educational publishers have poetry collections that can be purchased and copied for classroom use. I've used many of those to add poems to their poetry notebooks.
2) Children's magazines - Many children's magazines include poems. You can subscribe to a magazine or check to see if your local library has a subscription.
3) Discarded books and magazine - Before you throw away a worn out book or magazine check and see if there are poems that you can use. These can be glued onto construction paper or cardstock and then laminated. The students enjoy being able to take a single poem to their desk to read it.
4) Websites - There are many websites that feature children's poetry. Make sure that the copyright allows for printing for use in the classroom. Here are a few excellent sites:
Kenn Nesbitt's Poetry4kids
Shel Silverstine's Official Site
Giggle Poetry
Poetry for Children Blog

5) Youtube - Youtube has some recordings of poems that are excellent. Try looking for Shel Silverstine poems, the Disney A Poem Is series or poems by your favorite author.
6) Teachers Pay Teachers - Many teachers have created poetry collections that are perfect for sharing in the classroom. You can search by grade level and key words to find a poetry collection that is perfect for your classroom.

Here are some poetry anthologies that I've used in my classroom. These are all available through Amazon.

We have been reading the Boxcar Children in my 1st grade classroom. The students love the book. We've also watched the movie and compared/contrasted the two. The students even wrote plays based on this book and performed them this week at our Open House. Needless to say, they love the Boxcar Children! Yesterday, the students wrote cinquain poems about someone from the story. Some formats of cinquain poems require a certain number of syllables. I decided to eliminate any syllable requirements. It was a challenge for them to just distinguish between the adjectives and verbs. This is the format that we used for our 5 lines:
1 - Subject

2-  2 adjectives
3 - 3 action verbs
4 - a 4 word phrase
5-  a synonym for the subject
They did a good job for their first time doing this type of writing. 
You could write cinquain poems or shape poems on fun stationary. I found some shape templates from Education Place that are free to download and print. Students can use the lined shapes to write a final copy of a poem they've written. 

I have some poetry resources in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. If you would like to see the spring poetry collection that I've been using lately, just click on the picture. 
Don't forget to enter our awesome giveaway! We've teamed up to offer a big giveaway for our blog launch. 3 lucky winners will enjoy some awesome teacher swag! Each bundle is valued at $100! Enter the giveaway for your chance to win.
This giveaway is only available to teachers in the contiguous United States since it is a shipped item. Please read the complete terms on the rafflecopter giveaway for additional information.
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  1. Great post Melissa! I l started poetry notebooks this year and have been a slacker lately. You gave so many great reasons for using them. April will be a great month for digging our journals back out. Thanks for the motivation.
    Burke's Special Kids

    1. Thanks, Sebrina! Last week I needed more time for the kids to practice the Boxcar Children play they were performing and reading groups take up a big chunk of time during each day. So, I changed our regular reading assignments to reading a poem from the poetry notebook and working with it. Then they brought the poetry notebooks home and read at least 2 of the poems to their family. It worked really well. It gave us some really good practice with our poems and gave me more time to do additional activities. I might do it again! :)

  2. Thank you for the links to the websites. I will be pulling together my poetry unit over Easter Break! Thank you for being AWESOME!

    1. :) Thanks for the sweet comment Jennifer! I'm so glad those links are helpful for you!

  3. I love it! Thanks for all the awesome resources!

    1. Thanks, Tara! I hope that you find something that you can use in your teaching. Three of the websites were ones that I have known about and used for a long time, but the blog one was new to me. I'm excited about exploring it more. It looks really good! Have a great weekend!

  4. I love this thorough post, Melissa, and I especially appreciate the freebie. I have 4/5 now, but you never know what grade you will be in as a reading specialist. I was just thinking about Poetry Month for my students and ways to focus them on comprehension of poetry for testing, and I may make a response page like yours that focuses on analyzing figurative language, rhyme scheme, and meaning.

    1. Thanks, Carla! I was thinking about doing a page for older students and had a few notes, but your ideas sound even better! :) I was thinking of adding a rate the poem (loved it! it was OK. Not my favorite.) and a dictionary response activity. For that, I would have them choose a noun, verb or adjective and give their definition and then find the definition in the dictionary. If you make a page, feel free to use any of those ideas if they would work for what you have in mind. I'm excited to read your post this month! You always have great ideas!

    2. I think this would be a great activator for older students, so certainly, I am planning to print for next week. Thank you so much for the great freebie. Nice to have a versatile organizer that you can get lots of mileage out of.


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