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Parents & Teachers

Poetry Fun at Home (or in the Car)

Here are a few of my favorite ways to have poetry fun with the family.

1. Play with rhymes. Take turns thinking of a word. The other people there (maybe you’re at the dinner table or in the car) have to come up with as many rhymes as they can, taking turns. Maybe the last person to rhyme a ‘real word’ gets to pick the next word? But I also love to include words that aren’t ‘real words’ like “zoodle” or “funner” or “brudder” and “mudder.” So, you should definitely allow a few silly, non-words too.

2. Read a pile of poems, often! Keep a bunch of fun poetry collections and anthologies close by to share. Try to read a new poem every day, or at least every week. Maybe you could memorize it and perform it as after dinner entertainment. See my bibliography for some of the best collections to have on hand.

3. Play the Transformation Game. In the car, try to turn things that you see into other things, using your imagination, like poets do all the time. For example, someone could yell out (quietly), “Look, there’s a green popsicle!” “No, it’s a rocket ship!” “Actually, it’s a big stick of broccoli!” “Sorry, it’s an airport for birds!” (So, what have we been describing using metaphors? A tree, of course!) This works with lots of stuff–road signs, cars, bikes, houses, buildings, clouds, airplanes, birds… What else could they be if you use your imagination?! Try it!

4. Play the “spoon game.” Here’s how this fun game works: The first person takes a spoon (or any household object, really) and decides (quietly) what it ‘looks like.’ What could the object be turned into, using strong imagination? When ready, the first person (the one holding the object) says, “You know, this is not really a spoon, it’s a _________.” Without using his/her voice to finish the sentence and say what the object has been turned into, the leader has to use the object in some way that pantomimes the object’s use. For example, the spoon might become a microphone for a singer, or a mirror, or a toothbrush, or a lollipop, or a flower, or a golf club, or a bazillion things. The other people in the game have to guess what the object is, based on your super-slow pantomime. Pass the spoon around the table. The ‘world record’ for a spoon is 40 things. See if you can beat that!

(OK, why is this a ‘poetry game,’ I hear you asking? Because it invites you to use your imagination, just like in #3 above, and just like poets, and all good writers, do all the time.)

(Send me some of your favorite poetry games and I’ll add them here! Just go to Contact!)