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Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Teaching Poetry in the Primary Classroom

How do you approach teaching poetry in your classroom? Is it a once-in-a-while occurrence that you wish you could incorporate more? If so, I can relate! I love poems and I wanted a way to use them every month in the classroom. The solution came to me and I'm excited to share it with you today! Come along to see how I teach poetry in the primary classroom, and why you might also want to. 
Make teaching poetry in the primary classroom fun and easy with these engaging activities you can use all year long.

Why Poetry is Valuable for Primary Learners

First things first... Why is this something you should consider adding to your already very full lesson plan? Teaching poetry has many benefits but the most notable is its ability to help strengthen phonemic awareness. If you're working in a K-2 classroom, this is so important! Every day we're working hard to help our children develop phonemic awareness skills and become strong, confident readers. So what if poetry could make that job a little bit easier and way more fun? 

Teaching poetry to your students will help with several reading skills including left to right progression, beginning sounds, sight word recognition, and more.
Good news, it can! Poetry brings the joy back to reading and leans on rhythmic, repetition to help nudge students towards reading fluency. By using poems in your literacy centers throughout the year, you'll be presenting your students with a new way to foster reading skills. Some of those skills include:
  • left to right progression
  • voice-print pairing 
  • one-to-one correspondence
  • beginning sounds
  • rhyming words
  • sight word recognition
  • reading fluency and more!
Aside from the important skills targeted, poetry is just plain FUN! This alone is a great reason to add it to your routine. 

How to Add Poetry to Your Classroom 

In my classroom, we used lots of songs, poems, and fingerplays in our daily lessons. As an intervention teacher, I quickly learned the value of using these tools to foster reading fluency. As children learn the rhymes and songs, they can connect them to phonics, recall more easily, and blend phonics hunks and chunks together. 

Teaching poetry doesn't have to be time consuming or difficult with easy to use printable activities like these.
Think of it a bit like prompting. These subtle, rhythmic prompts help students gain the skills and confidence they need to become fluent readers. 

But how do we begin adding poetry? My favorite way is through the use of a monthly center. In this center, students will learn a seasonal or holiday-related poem. We practice the verses first, without the written words. This oral practice first helps to strengthen phonemic awareness and lays the groundwork for success. 

Next, I introduce the words in a pocket chart format. Children will work on putting the words in the correct order, matching up the words, and building the poem. We work on this in class, but I also send home word cards for continued practice. By the end of the month, my students know a new poem and have had a fun opportunity to practice reading and identifying the words in it. It's a classroom favorite activity! 

Teaching Poetry with Monthly Poems 

Does this sound like something you'd like to explore with your own students? If so, let's take a closer look at the process I use with Monthly Poetry Centers. 

Introducing the New Poem 

Make teaching poetry simple by including it in your monthly activities with monthly or seasonal themed poems your students will love.
It all starts with an oral introduction of the poem. I like to introduce our new, seasonal poem at the beginning of the month during our morning meeting, or when students are seated on the carpet. 

First, I say the poem aloud and students listen all the way through. Then, I say only the first line and they repeat it back. We work our way through the poem, making sure to focus on the rhythm, rhyme, and repetition. 

We do this over the course of a couple days before I introduce the written words. This piece of the puzzle is key in helping to strengthen phonemic awareness. It's also a fun, community-building activity that my students look forward to every month. There's nothing quite like singing a song, or reciting a poem with your whole class, right? 

Put Words to the Rhythm 

As you begin teaching poetry, project your poems on your whiteboard so you can go through all of the words in the poem together as a class.
Next, it's time to show students the written words. I liked to display the poem on an interactive whiteboard. Then, I would point out each word as the students say it aloud. I do this a few times and might even call on a couple volunteers to be the pointers. 

During this process, we also search for sight words, beginning sounds, color words, and phonics hunks and chunks as well. This is such a valuable part of the process. I love seeing students get excited as they search the poem for familiar words and sounds. 

This is a great way for students to practice reading the poems several times before we dig into individual or small group activities. And, we all know how important repetition is when teaching our kiddos new skills.

Pocket Chart Poem Practice

Then, I pull out a pocket chart. In this step, I use the words from the poem that have been cut apart. With a copy of the poem beside the chart, we reassemble the word cards in the correct order. I like to do this as a whole-group introduction first.  

Use a pocket chart like this when teaching poetry to give your students an interactive opportunity to put the poems together after whole group practice.
As a class, we build the poem using the word cards that are printed in black. Then using word cards that are a different color, I allow kiddos to practice matching the words to complete the poem independently or with a partner. This center is available for a week or so. I try to make sure everyone gets a couple of chances to work in this center. 

Then, I made it a bit more difficult by removing the black words and having students start from scratch. This is a challenge for them, but it's a great learning opportunity too! Not only does this work on phonic skills and reading words, but it also has an element of visual tracking as students must use the poem on one paper to build the poem in the pocket chart. 

I like to give the kids pointers, witchy fingers, or magic wands to use as they point to each word and recite the poem. This adds an extra layer of fun that my students absolutely love.

Keep the Poetry Practice Going

The last step in this process is to give each kiddo a copy of the words and the poem. They keep the words in a baggie and work on assembling them at their desks, and at home for extra practice. I usually communicate with parents about our monthly poem and ask them to help their child recite it a couple times per week as part of their homework routine. The families really enjoy helping out with this and hearing their little readers recite a new poem each month! 

Teaching Poetry All Year Long 

This monthly poetry center is one of my favorite ways to mix things up with our literacy centers. Rhymes and poems are fun for students, so they make it easy and accessible to work on important phonemic awareness skills. Anytime I can make reading a fun and enjoyable process, I'm in! Because of this, I created seasonal poems to use all year long. 

These poems are related to the current season or holiday and are aimed at adding some whimsical flair to our poetry center. In my Year Long Pocket Chart Poetry Bundle, you'll find 12 different literacy centers - one for each month of the year. Some of the poems included are:
These monthly poetry centers make teaching poetry in the primary classroom simple and easy to implement. No need to worry about how to add poems, or which ones to choose! These resources were designed for maximum fun and increased phonemic awareness. All you have to do is follow the simple process and your students will be on track to learn a new poem every month, all year long! 

Grab this year long poetry bundle to make teaching poetry in the primary classroom a breeze for you this year.

This is such a valuable and fun monthly activity to use with your students! I know everyone will look forward to it. If you want to take a closer look, be sure to check out the Year Long Pocket Chart Poetry Bundle in my TPT shop! Happy rhyming! 

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This post has everything you need to implement my go-to method for teaching poetry. Pin it on Pinterest to keep these ideas at the ready! 

Looking for ways to start teaching poetry in your classroom this year? Use these helpful tips and tricks to get you started. Be sure to grab the amazing year long seasonal resource for engaging poems you can use in your poetry units all year long for your primary students. #tarynsuniquelearning #teachingpoetryintheprimaryclassroom #teachingpoetryinelementaryschool #poemsforelementaryschool #seasonalkidspoems

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