Now, this is not to say that I haven't "done" poetry with my students. We have read poems and I have intentionally exposed my students to beautiful words and poems throughout the years. I believe, at least in the last couple of years, I have helped my students build an appreciation of poetry. But...reading poetry is a whole different thing than writing poetry, now isn't it?
The good news? I have grown and changed. I have come to the realization that yes, my kindergarten students can write poetry. And...not only can they write poetry, but they want to write poetry. They enjoy it!
So, that left me with only one question. How in the world do you teach a five- or six-year-old to write poetry? Well, maybe I'm crazy or maybe I'm brave or maybe I just copied others, but what I decided was that the best way for me to teach my students to write poetry, was to just close my eyes and jump!
We started right after spring break. I began by reading poems related to school, something we had a shared understanding of. Then, I took a trip to the library and found lots of great children's poetry books. My favorite one, and my students favorite one, is called Come To My Party and Other Shape Poems by Heidi Roemer. (Check out the link and you can take a peek inside the book!) My whole plan was to just fill all their little ears with poetry, immerse them in poetry so they could get a feel for it.
Next, taking a cue from a very smart fellow blogger...we hit the playground. We walked around the mostly abandoned garden area, explored the hillside, looked at the woods and the sky and, of course, blew away some dandelion fuzz! As we explored, we wrote down what we saw in our writing notebooks. I told the kids to write the words and/or draw the pictures of what they were seeing, make a list, just to help them remember when we went back inside. I really wasn't sure how this would go, but here is what I saw in those precious notebooks:
Then it was time for the big moment. I told them that now they were ready. They had the poems inside of them already and all they needed to do was close their eyes, think about what they saw outside and just write! It would come out and it would be great!
So they did!
I sat at the table with my laptop and the kids came and read me their poems. The only support I offered was to type what they read to me. They are amazing! Check out a couple poems in their first draft form:
Next, we will be printing out the typed poems, sharing and celebrating with the class and illustrating them. Check back soon to see the next installment!