Appreciating and exploring poetry in lower primary classrooms

  • Published on November 8, 2019

Appreciating and exploring poetry in lower primary classrooms

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 Going on a Bear Hunt

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:

writing Christmas poems

Christmas poems which has examples and templates for writing five different forms of poems: acrostic, sound, haiku, I love and shape poems.

Little Miss Muffet themed lessons for reading and writing

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

Write your own “I love” poem which encourages children to innovate on the traditional camping song I love the mountains.

busy bee chants about being happy about being in grade one, can be adapted to other year levels

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

Jennifer Poulter and poems

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.

A Spring Thing by J.R. Poulter

Bee Happy by J. R. Poulter


Flying by J. R. Poulter

Flight by J.R. Poulter

Feathers J.R. Poulter

Season's Song by J.R. Poulter

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.

Lost Generation J.R. Poulter

thank you writers and illustrators for sharing information about your books and your creative process

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:

Inside the Looking Glass


on other websites on which she is featured:

Word Wings

Lulu Author Spotlight

Australian Children’s Poetry

Ripple Poetry

or connect with her on social media:

Facebook (Author page)

Facebook (Word Wings)




readilearn teaching resources for the first three years of school

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readilearn: teaching resources for the first three years of school
Resources beyond worksheets – lessons for teachers made by teachers.
Let readilearn lighten your workload.


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    Michael Rosen’s work is filled with such fun energy. JR Poulter is new to me, but I found her poem Lost Generation to be powerful. Poetry is much more than fun and rhymes. I agree that it should be prolific in classrooms!

    Thank you, Charli. I’m pleased to have introduced you to JR Poulter, a prolific and much-awarded local Australian poet. Her writing can be powerful in its message. There is much to be learned from poetry that presents itself to us at the right time.

    Nursery rhymes, rhyming picture books– they are fun and memorable and beget literacy and may even help wire the brain. I so agree with you that poetry has to live and breathe. If we misteach it, or over-teach it, give people the idea that it must be dissected and analyzed we may be ruining poetry and people’s enjoyment of it. It can get the same inaccessible reputation as math, that it is only for some people, not all. Just read and write, I say.

    Great post, Norah. I love using poetry as a teaching tool. My learners are ESL students and they absolutely love the rhythm and rhyme of the poems and chants that we do all together. Some of my African students dance to the beat, some of them sing, (AND dance!) and just about all of the students love to keep the beat on the table or with their hands or feet. There’s not a sad face in the classroom! 🙂

    That’s wonderful, Robin. You entertain and educate your students so powerfully with music and song. Poetry is just another iteration. Such joy! Your students are fortunate in having such a wonderful teacher.

    Wonderful resources Norah. Jennifer’s graphics with her poetry are just gorgeous! And yes, poetry is a wonderful thing for children to learn. I know as a child I was making up poems by age 5 or 6. Wish I still had them. 🙂

    Thank you so much, Bette. I knew you, being a writer of beautiful poetry yourself, would appreciate the value of this post. 💖

    Thank you for sharing this article, Norah. It is most useful as I always feel children do not like poetry. It is the way it is taught in schools that puts the kids off. These are lovely ways of bringing poetry into their lives in a fun way.

    Sometimes poetry can be badly done in schools, especially when they have to pull it apart and analyse every word. I didn’t mind it so much in high school as I was often able to give an interpretation when many others couldn’t. But I had loved reading and poetry from a young age where for others, this was probably their first experience. Poetry should be loved first before pulling it apart and dissecting it. It must be allowed to live and breathe first.

Please share your thoughts. I love it when you do.

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