Thursday, October 2, 2008

Poetry in Your Daily Round

This year in our homeschool we are not merely studying poetry, but becoming the poets ourselves! Do you incorporate poetry into your homeschool days? If you don't homeschool, do you share poetry with your children anyway?

I have chosen to incorporate poetry into our school days and lives ever since... well, ever since the girls were born. I've dabbled in writing poetry on and off over the years. Before I had children I even took a poetry course in St. Paul, MN at The Loft Literary Center. At least it was in St. Paul when I lived there. I see now, in searching out the link, that it's moved to downtown Minneapolis. Wow! It looks wonderful! Anyway, I took a poetry class there and it was such a treat. Art of any kind causes one to look at the world in different ways; the mundane becomes something extraordinary and can bridge the gap between strangers and cultures. We often are reminded that we aren't so different from one another after all.

With my children we have moved from the nursery rhymes of their babyhood, to the fun and rollicking poems of A.A. Milne and Shel Silverstein, to the more mature poetry of Emily Dickinson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In fact, two years ago, when we studied Longfellow more in depth, my girls took a special liking to his poem, "Excelsior!" (which means, "higher!") and portions of the poem and shouts of, "excelsior!" were likely to be heard from the swing set or trampoline most any time of the day.

This year I have sought out a few places online that provide prompts and guidelines for a variety of poems and we are having a great deal of fun with them. We have poetry every Friday and so far, the girls have turned out things that are silly, serious, and lovely - sometimes all at the same time. Eve, being younger, I find needs some more help in getting her ideas to gel. I sit with her and give examples and also try to pull out of her just what she is wanting to say.

Maia, on the other hand, has fallen in love with language and I will often hear her repeat a word during the week that is new to her ear. She will say it a few times with an absolute look of delight on her face and say something like, "Oh, I like that word!" I am quite tickled when I hear things like that, because I had the same experience myself in high school, when I discovered that I not only liked writing, but that I was good at it and actually enjoyed the process of constructing papers and stories for school. The thesaurus, one of my dear, old friends, has become a new and dear friend to my daughter.

Here are some samples of Maia's work so far:

Copper

Shining new pennies
Like small, round gifts
Waiting to be spent



Ambition

Purpose, wish, desire
Gazing upon the star-lit sky
Myself


Snowfall

The first snowfall arrives like a timid deer
It covers the once bright green grass with a light, white powder
Then frosts the windows of the houses
It moves gently, quietly, softly, and silently
But as the cloud parts, and the snow ceases to fall
Over the small town
It leaves the beginning of winter to come.

And here are some of Eve's:

Salt

salinize season pickle brine
It makes my noodles taste fine


Fog

Fog comes in like a creeping fox
early in the morning.
It covers the pond
quietly
in the forest
then hides from the sun.

We write on Fridays and then I am having the girls type them for typing practice. We will be printing them throughout the year to compile into a book at the end of the year. Once a month or so, we will take our Friday time to illustrate or decorate the pages.

Here are some of the links I've visited and have found helpful:

30 Days of Poetry - These prompts are what we have started with and we love them so far! We can use these once a week and we are only 6 weeks shy of a full school year. Certainly, we can re-use some of the prompts as well. Included here are diamantes, cinquains, haikus, and much more.

A page with a bunch of links and ideas.

Here is a whole high school poetry unit, but I found the instructions for the assignments to be most helpful and there are some great ideas for elementary ages too. We'll be using some of these as fillers where we may need them with the 30 Days unit.

Here is one that is more for upper middle and high school grades, but I'm sure it will come in very handy in the future.


Finally, a lovely way to gently incorporate poetry into your school year and every day life is to find seasonal poems. The seasons are something we all know something about and I believe poetry is one of the most beautiful ways to mark the turning of the year. The words may help your children respond to the world around them in new and thoughtful ways. Give poetry a try if you haven't yet. I think you'll find yourself delighted.
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