If you stop by the kindergarten room after lunch, you will hear a poem read to the students and a discussion about that poem. Currently we are working our way through an anthology called “Sing A Song of Popcorn.” Later in the year we will go through the book “Animals, Animals,” a collection of poems illustrated by Eric Carle. Students look forward to this each day and are quick to remind me if I forget our daily poem!
Why is poetry important in the classroom?
A child’s first exposure to poetry is probably through nursery rhymes. These poems, often set to music, are a great introduction to rhyming words and rhythm in language. In kindergarten we use them to listen for rhyming words, but also to practice letter and word recognition and to act out the story of the rhyme.
Poetry is great for introducing new vocabulary. We practice using context clues to determine the meanings of unfamiliar words. This month’s nursery rhyme is “Old Mother Hubbard,” and we discovered that there is a difference between the words “bare” and “bear.”
Metaphor is a powerful means of communication, and poetry is full of metaphors that stir the imagination. We recently read the poem “Dragon Smoke” by Lilian Moore. What child hasn’t stood outside on a cold winter day and been excited to see their breath?
Breathe and blow
with every puff.
It’s cold today,
cold enough to see your breath.
Breathe dragon smoke today!
Poetry can help us see familiar things in a new way. Lilian Moore also wrote a poem called “Wind Song” that shows how the wind can make quiet things noisy. Students had fun thinking about all of the quiet things that will make sounds when the wind is blowing. Christina Rossetti’s poem about clouds begins with the line, “White sheep, white sheep on a blue hill.” At recess we were able to check out the clouds and see what pictures we could find.
Poems can express a wide range of emotions. We discuss why a poem might be a little scary or make us laugh or feel sad. Many poems are short which makes them ideal for memorization.
Toward the end of the year, Kindergarteners get to practice writing their own poems. We write color poems, 5 senses poems and alliteration poems. Sometimes we each write a line and then put them all together to make a collaborative poem. Because poetry is so open-ended the possibilities are endless!
Some people find poetry to be a bit intimidating, but I hope by introducing the genre to children and helping them learn to enjoy the language of a poem and also begin to analyze its content, they will become life-long lovers of poetry!