How to Teach Poetry to Kids


Frances Stanford

Every English Language Arts teacher, at least to Grade Nine level, will have to teach poetry to the kids at least once during the school year. All curriculums contain one or more poetry units and your success or failure in teaching poetry depends on two main factors your attitude toward poetry and the amount of preparation you do for your classes. If you haven't enjoyed poetry during your grade school and university years, you will not be as enthusiastic about it as you are teaching novels or short stories. You do have to choose goals and objectives for your individual lessons and try to make them as interesting and enjoyable as possible for the kids or your feelings will certainly show through.

Many students can express their creativity a lot better when they write poetry than with writing short stories. Make sure that your classroom library contains a wide selection of different kinds of poetry and a selection of different poets. You can choose to focus your lessons on one poet at a time and then compare the works of this author with the poems of another.

The terminology of poetry is essential for students. If you wish you can intersperse the poetry lessons throughout the year by teaching the various types of poetry. Use the bulletin board to display the terminology and have students write poems for each type. This includes writing haikus and students love illustrating this poetic form. In this way you foster their artistic talents as well as their creative writing abilities.

Poetry can be used to introduce many lessons even those for Science and Math. It may take some time on your part to find the right poem for the lesson or the occasion, but using poetry as an introduction for other subject lessons will teach the students the versatility of poetry.

Poems that tell a story are excellent for introducing the students to acting. Dramatic poetry in the classroom will help you bring out another side of the students' creativity. Demonstrate a poem in this way by bringing in props and using different voices for the different parts of the poem. Pretty soon you will have students looking for poems that they can dramatize for the class.


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