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Poetry Teaching Resources

Fun Ways to Use My Books

Here are ten general thoughts about using my books in fun ways in your classroom.

In general:

1. Predict. Before reading a poem, have the children try to predict, from the title and the face in the accompanying photo, what the poem will be about.

2. Read the poem aloud. Stop reading before you get to the final stanza and have the children try to predict how the poem may end.

3. Ask questions. After reading a poem aloud, I love to keep it simple. I try not to over analyze.  Instead I ask, “What did you notice about that poem?”  Or, “What did that poem make you feel and think?” Surprising thoughts almost always trickle out. Maybe they have had a similar experience. Or maybe they just enjoyed the sounds of the words.

4. Clap out the rhythm, so kids can hear how important the beat of a poem (especially a rhyming poem) is.

5. Make a song out of the poem. The whole class, or maybe just the reader might try to improvise a melody to accompany the song. (I do this all the time—usually when I’m alone!) Each time it’s different. And it’s usually both funny and fun.

6. Predict the rhyming words. Stop before you get to the rhyming word at the end of a stanza and have the children try to guess a word that might fit to make the rhyme. Often there are a few possibilities, but often they can infer which one fits the best.

7. Find the figures of speech. Before I read to older kids who are familiar with similes, metaphors and personification, I’ll say, “there are a few powerful comparisons in this poem. Turn your ears on high and see if you can hear them. Even 1st graders can hear the similes, even if they don’t know ‘officially’ what a simile is. “What did the narrator compare herself to, in the poem?”

8. Illustrate your favorite poem. Have the kids pick a favorite and make an illustration to accompany the poem. I’ve also seen teachers take photos of the kids to accompany the poem on a poster, trying to make their faces pay off the poem, just like in the books.

9. Look at the ending. Ask, what’s a different way the poet might have ended this poem that might have been more or less predictable? Can you think of a stronger ending?

10. Write a poem like mine. Have the kids pick a favorite and try to write a poem that mimics mine, or adds to mine, and makes it even stronger. Maybe they can take a different issue and write a poem about it in the style of one of my poems.

(Specific ideas by book title are coming soon!)