Poetry is a wonderful tool for learning language. When children listen to or recite poetry, they are learning the rhythms and sounds of language, exploring ideas and how to express them, expanding vocabularies, deepening understanding in nuances of meaning, and having fun with thoughts and their expression.
Children are exposed to rhythm and rhyme from their earliest days through nursery rhymes, chants and songs as well as the text of picture books. It is important for children to have opportunities for appreciating and exploring poetry into and throughout their school years. The Australian Curriculum places poetry firmly into the literature strand of English teaching each year. But it is not necessary to relegate poetry just to a poetry unit of work when stipulated by the curriculum. Poetry, rhymes, chants and songs can be easily incorporated into the daily class program.
Michael Rosen, who you may know as the author of Going on a Bear Hunt and who I previously introduced to you in this post, shares some recommendations for teaching poetry on his blog. Although the suggestions were written for a year one teacher, I think the suggestions could be extended out to other years. Following his recommendations would more than cover the expectations of the Australian Curriculum, and what a wonderful way to turn children (and yourself) onto poetry.
I’m only sharing a few of his recommendations here. Please visit his website to read the others.
Michael Rosen’s suggestions for teaching poetry
- Get as many poetry books into your classroom as possible. Encourage the children in pairs to browse, choose and read.
- Read poems to them every day, use vids of poets (check out Michael Rosen’s YouTube channel) , use national poetry archive. Writing poems with no poems in your head is too big an ask. Fill their heads with ‘What poetry can do’ ie loads of poems.
- Remember: the secret of the best poetry teaching is reading, looking at, enjoying, talking about, having fun with a wide variety of poems! Ideas, shapes, possibilities will flow from the variety. You join in. Write with them.
- Handwrite a poem-a-week and hang it on the wall. Encourage the children to write thoughts about the poem on post-its and stick them on the poem.
- Do ‘experience’ poems: eat something, go see something, immerse in a moment eg dinner hall. Collect ‘impressions’ and ‘sensations’ (ie see, hear, touch, smell) Make montages of these. Create rhythms out of them. Make up refrain to use as a Capella backing track or chorus.
Read the rest of his recommendations on his blog here.
readilearn lessons for teaching poetry
There are already several resources for teaching poetry in the readilearn collection, including:
Christmas poems which has examples and templates for writing five different forms of poems: acrostic, sound, haiku, I love and shape poems.
Let’s read and write with Little Miss Muffet which provides suggestions for a series of lessons developing oral language, reading, writing and imagination.
Write your own “I love” poem which encourages children to innovate on the traditional camping song I love the mountains.
Busy Bee chants which help to foster a sense of belonging and can be learned and chanted every day to send the children home feeling joyous and happy about school.
Free poems and teacher notes by J.R. Poulter
As a special treat for you this week, I am bringing you some poems and teacher notes that are generously shared by award-winning poet and author J.R. Poulter. I previously introduced Jennifer to you when I interviewed her about her lovely picture book Hip Hop Hoorah! Zoo Dance.
About Jennifer Poulter
Jennifer Poulter is a prolific Australian author of fiction and poetry for children. She also writes for the education and literary market. She has had over 50 traditional books and thirteen digital picture books published. She writes under the names J.R. Poulter and J.R. McRae and has received many awards for both fiction and poetry writing. She has four poems included in the collection at the War Memorial, Canberra, and in 2018 Won the International Poetry Award, The Great Indian Poetry Contest.
Throughout her career, Jennifer has been employed in numerous roles including Senior Education Officer with the Queensland Studies Authority and Senior Librarian with the State Library of Queensland. She even once worked in a circus. In addition to writing, Jennifer is also an editor and artist. Now, under the banner of Word Wings, Jennifer collaborates with other creatives from over 20 countries.
Jennifer is a great advocate for poetry in schools and provides generous support for teachers with free downloads of poetry and teaching notes which can be accessed from her Facebook Author page.
In the introduction to Poetry Action for Classroom and Stage, a 5-book series which featured poetry by Jennifer as well as others, Jennifer wrote,
“Children have an innate sense of rhythm and respond readily to the music locked in the language of poetry. Performance gives accessibility to poetry and related prose genres for all Australian children as it is a truly multicultural medium! Performance unlocks the music and rhythms of the language and adds drama to the everyday humdrum of words by appealing to the emotions of the students.”
Jennifer Poulter’s Poems
For this week’s post we are sharing six lovely poems that are great if you are doing an English unit about poetry, a geography or science unit about the seasons or a science unit about living things. Or, of course, they are perfect poems for reading aloud and enjoying at any time.
To download a PDF of each poem and its accompanying teacher notes. Click on the image.
I think you’ll agree when I say children will love these poems. Each can simply be shared and enjoyed or, if you wish to explore more of the learning opportunities each provides, click on the image to download Jennifer’s teaching notes.
A Remembrance Day poem
With Remembrance Day coming up in just a few days, Jennifer has also very generously included this poem to share.
Thank you, J. R. Poulter, for so generously sharing your poems and teacher notes with us.
Find additional free poems by Jennifer
on her Facebook author page here.
or do an internet search using the terms
“Children’s Poetry by J.R.Poulter“
or “Poetry by J.R.Poulter“
or “Poetry by J.R.McRae“
and you will get a lot of her poster poems and books.
Purchase books of poems by Jennifer on Word Wings here.
Find out more about Jennifer on her website:
on other websites on which she is featured:
or connect with her on social media:
Facebook (Author page)
Facebook (Word Wings)
Remember to check out the collection of
readilearn: teaching resources for the first three years of school
Resources beyond worksheets – lessons for teachers made by teachers.
Let readilearn lighten your workload.
I appreciate your feedback and comments. Please share your thoughts below.