Paving the Way with Poetry

It’s the first few days of school and everything is a blur of new faces, forms to complete, and procedures to teach.  The days fly by and as teachers, we often don’t finish half of what we had planned to do each day.

Sound familiar?

Here’s a great idea to fill those spare moments when you don’t have enough time to start something new, yet need to bridge the gap before the students transition to the next part of the day.

Read some poems!

spring 2014 189 (1)

Don’t wait for National Poetry month in September. Poetry is great for the beginning of the year in so many ways – it builds community, adds humor and introduces students to a genre that they can return to again and again.  This is especially important for struggling students.  With its short format and lower word count, poetry is often less intimidating to those students and more inviting.  So why not introduce it to them now, help them get “hooked” and also keep them engaged?

When I taught third grade, I would keep a one or two poetry books on the ledge below the whiteboard, or on a shelf near the front door.  That way, whenever I had two or three minutes to spare, I could grab a book, read a poem or two and move on.  This resulted in less distractions, more focused students and an increase in interest for this genre and reading overall.

Humor is always a good way to draw kids in, especially in September.  It’s also helpful to find poems that connect to actual parts of the school day, like the cafeteria, recess, etc.   Once you start reading on a regular basis, your students will want to find their own poems to share.  If possible, let them copy over the poems and display them in different areas of the room.  You can even have them sign up for poetry readings or create hand gestures to act them out.

Ready to get started? Here are a few of my personal favorite books for the beginning of the year.

Lunch money and other Poems about School by Carol Diggory Shields

Honey, I Love by Eloise Greenfield

A Pizza the Size of the Sun and anything else by Jack Prelutsky

Unbeelievables and anything else by Douglas Florian

Falling Up and anything else by Shel Silverstein

The Way I Feel by Jana Cain

The Dog Ate My Homework by Bruce Lansky

If I Were in Charge of the World and Other Worries by Judith Viorst

Have some of your own favorites? Post them here so we can share ideas!  Thanks and happy reading!

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