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Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Littlest Poets

     I have been working with the littlest poets, children of all ages, for more years than I care to calculate, but it is something that I truly love to do. From reading Mother Goose rhymes to babies all the way up to reading (and now writing) novels in verse to big kids. In this post, I'd like to share some of my most recent work teaching an after school enrichment club to children in grades 3 to 5 that I called Playing with Poetry.

      I called it that because that is exactly what I aimed to have the children do if for no other reason than I wanted them to know that poetry is not boring, and that creating a poem is something that everyone can do. My objective though was not to have them write poems but to make them laugh. I really didn't want to hear poems, I wanted to hear giggles because of poems. That isn't at all hard to do.

     We started each session with a read-around (passing allowed for those that prefer listening) from anthologies of the funniest poets for children I could find, relying heavily on Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein. We passed around one book and read the poem that was opened to at random. It gets them giggling while the sound of poetry settles on them.

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     Then each week we would try a fun way of creating a poem. The first week was what we called
Twisty-Turny poems inspired by Prelutsky. They took to it as naturally as I thought they would. Below is one child's very first attempt.

     Another week was rebus poems mixing symbols with words. The following week was devoted to Book Spine poetry which is a way of playing with poetry that many adults enjoy (just google it if you haven't played yourself.) Kids, I think, enjoy it more because it gets them up and moving around and talking and they like documenting things digitally. Here are a couple of examples from that day.

      Then I introduced an old favorite of mine that I have done with children as young as age four as well as new adult readers. It always, without exception, produces results that are impressive to me, but more importantly, make the creator feel creative. I call it cut-up collage poetry. It is easy to tell how much they like it when they ask if they can do another, and maybe just one more... I ensure success by doing most of the cutting myself and sharing an abundance of words and phrases for the poet to choose from that are likely to lend themselves well to poetic expression. It results in poems that are also visual works of art. Here are some pics:

     They also spent some club time playing at because there are lots of fun things to do at the site. A little something for everyone.

     While we are on the subject of children and poetry I'd like to encourage you to check out the work of a few of my friends at I Care Foundation and find a way to participate and play with poetry.


  1. Wonderful work Tammi. And thanx for sharing these and the I Care site.


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