Connecting with a poem on a deep personal level can be a great joy. Poetry brings a beauty to language that is unique unto itself, and strikes a chord with us that makes us want to share the emotions and thoughts it brings to mind. However, if literature is not your forte, poetry studies might be a daunting pursuit. Consider a poetry unit study this April–National Poetry Month. Check out these resources to inspire and enhance your homeschool poetry studies.
While this resource was written with the classroom in mind, there are great suggestions on how to teach poetry even if it is not your favorite subject–and why you should! You’ll find ideas for helpful ways to engage students in your poetry unit study and some simple truths that make poetry a great subject to study.
Homeschool Poetry Unit Studies
This week-long poetry unit study walks you step by step, day by day through a one-week lesson plan on teaching poetry. You can use these plans to introduce your students to poems, poetic devices, and rhyme and scheme. There are also suggestions for creating art based on poems.
Poems are just plain fun to read aloud! Inspire some enthusiasm through the rhythm and imagery with these five poems to read aloud or dig up a few of your own favorites. One of the most well-known and catchy poems is “The Bells” by Edgar Allan Poe. He actually invented a new word in this poem to describe the sound of bells–”tintinnabulation.” Encourage your students to think of a specific image, sound, or feeling that they want to describe and try inventing a word for it. This exercise is great for homeschool poetry studies because it’s easy to perform with students across a wide age range.
Other poems that make great use of creative language and invented words are nonsense poems, a style made famous by writers like Lewis Carrol and Edward Lear. There’s a great connection to be made between inventing and creating language to communicate exactly what you want, and exploring and learning more about a language to be able to effectively communicate your ideas and feelings.
It’s never too early to teach a love of poetry! The rhythms and rhymes can appeal to the senses like music, even for children who are too young to read it themselves. This poetry unit study, based on Shel Silverstein’s book Where the Sidewalk Ends, is specifically for preschoolers and early elementary students. You will need a copy of the book (easily found at most libraries) to implement the study.
Multilingual poetry is another way to explore rhythm and form in poetry. If you speak or are learning another language, try to find a poem or two that incorporates that language and English. You’ll be able to evaluate the use of the other language that much better if you have a bit of a grasp of all the languages in the poem, but if you don’t speak another language, don’t skip this part of your poetry unit study! Read through the poem and see if you understand the meaning behind the words you don’t specifically know. Use an online translator and check yourself. What did you understand and why? Put yourself in the writer’s shoes. Which words, ideas, and sentiments were expressed in the poet’s mother tongue? What significance does that lend to the poem? You can check out a few examples of different styles of multilingual poetry here.