preparing for poetic play

When I was a child, we had a fascinatingly plump book of poetry for children that rested on the dark corner shelf of our family room and I remember many balmy afternoons spent, legs curled beneath, thumbing through its pages and drinking its sweetness. Even from childhood, I recall the wonder of that moment when a newly discovered poem stirred my senses and tilled my imagination.

We are blessed with a great grandmother with a veritable treasury of rhyme and cadence in her head and heart and every now and then, something stirs her and she slips easily into recitations from her own childhood, the words and wonder dripping from her lips while everyone leans in for the listening. And in these moments I’m reminded of the gift of poetry and I long to fill my daughter’s mind and heart with its beauty and joy. But how? She’s three and busy and moving all the time. And then the idea came to me: What if poetry came off the page and filled her hands and heart in a new way? What if we “lived” a poem…just one simple poem…for a week or even a month? And the more I toyed with the idea, the more excited I became about the possibilities and I thought that just perhaps, someone else might enjoy playing with poetry too.

On Monday, I’ll begin sharing my ideas for poetic play. All you really need to begin is a journal (something child-sized) and an imagination. I’ll bring the poetry and the inspiration. I plan to begin each week with a new poem but please don’t feel rushed. Go at a pace that suits your child. You may “play” a certain poem for a month, and another one for only a day or so. It’s entirely up to you. Choose one or two activities or do them all. Your choice entirely. The most important thing is to have fun.

I N T R O D U C I N G   T H E   P O E M: Whether you spend a few days or an entire month on the poem, don’t get so busy with the activities that you forget to bring your child back to the poem each day.  Depending on your child’s age, you should determine whether your goal is memorization, or simply a friendly familiarity with each poem by the time you finish the activities.
* Consider reading the poem aloud for the first time while your child has busy hands but is likely to be attentive. Mealtime or bathtime work well for us.
* Don’t try to explain every word of the poem the first time through. You’ll have plenty of opportunities for vocabulary lessons as you complete the activities. Just allow your child to become familiar with the main idea.
* Depending on your child’s age and attention span, consider asking them some initial questions about the poem. {Ex: What do you think the silver wire is? What does a brier look/feel like?}

You’ll explore each poem through many of the following:

T H E    P O E T R Y    J O U R N A L
Any blank notebook or journal will do but for little hands, I prefer something spiral bound that stays open easily for drawing and coloring. I’ll provide a printable version of each poem for you to cut and paste into the journal and your child can illustrate it.

I M A G I N A T I O N    S T A T I O N S
Children love to pretend that they are someone or something else. This section will provide ideas for dress-up and role playing.

H A P P Y    H A N D S
This section will include hands-on educational activities corresponding to the poem’s theme.

C U L T I V A T I N G    C H A R A C T E R
Here, we’ll explore any admirable character traits that we can observe in the poem.

O U T D O O R    O D Y S S E Y S
Venture out into nature and explore!

N A T U R E    T A B L E
Children of all ages love to bring nature indoors and a nature table is a wonderful way to display these seasonal collections. If you have limited space, you might consider a nature shelf or basket instead. You can find ideas and inspiration at:
Restoration Place
The Magnifying Glass
A Holy Experience
Homeschooling Ideas
The Laughing Monkey
The Write Start

S E N S O R Y    B I N S
Similar to the nature table, sensory bins are a world of fun for tiny hands and big imaginations. Small rubbermaid containers are great for bins. I’ll provide suggestions for the contents of each bin.

Creative things for little hands to make.

B O O K    B A S K E T  {Peek into our SEASONAL BOOK BASKET }
Recommended supplemental reading to go along with each poem. You should be able to find many of these titles at your local library.

K I T C H E N    C R E A T I O N S
Tasty treats to make and enjoy!

We’ll begin bright and early Monday morning. Click HERE to subscribe and you won’t miss a beat!


2 responses to “preparing for poetic play

  1. Gina,

    I LOVE this idea and will be excited to see what poems you pick and delighted to join you. I have been thinking recently myself about being a bit more intentional about helping my little guys live and act out stories. They love to play act and dress up and move and all the rest like all two and four year olds. It keeps rolling in the back of my head lately to pick a Bible story and help encourage more acting out of it over and over and I think I will try and intentionally pick one and do that for fun this week, and join you with the poems too. Love the blog and lists and all. Blessings!

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