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Raven Howell

Children's Books and Poetry

Activities and inspiration for home or your classroom!

Put Poetry on your Agenda

watercolor car drawing
Illustration © 2014, Maris Howell, from Dozy Poems

Poetry enables parents and teachers to teach their children and students how to write, read, and understand just about any text. It also allows for a healthy outlet for emotions.  

Every word in a poem is well-chosen, and therefore, there's nothing better than reading them aloud. Reading them with a theatric flair can get everyone's attention, so make sure you know your poems before sharing them with your child or your class. Don't oversupply them with material, but ask questions such as, "How do you think the poet feels?" or "What does that make you think of?" after a poem. Especially with ages 8 and older, poetry in the class works best when students are given the chance to take part.

For younger children, having visual aids and related activities to the poems can greatly enhance teaching poetry.

Lilac

First Things First

When bringing poetry into the home or classroom, the most important thing is to work with poems that will amuse and engage the children. Be realistic of your children's attention span. Introducing them to poems in a fun or delightful way can ensure curiosity and a positive attitude about poetry for years to come!

Teaching unit based on My Community

Help your child or student to select a paragraph or phrase from My Community. Perhaps it’s from their favorite page. Ask them to use the text to springboard into writing a poem of their own. They can either use the actual line or two to start off, or take the idea and run with it!

My Community is filled with pages of various community members, their jobs, and various daily activities – a conducive book for this writing tip. Instruct the child that they may condense, reorder or re-work the text they pull from the book and continue writing. If a student ends up with a story instead of a poem – that’s wonderful, too!

page from My Communnity

Here’s an example:
“The sun rises, a flicker-flash” (from the book)
As yellow as a ribbon sash.
I like the day better than night
To play outside in all the bright.

Teaching unit based on my book
Shimmer, Songs of Night

To get your students or children motivated, surprise them with a word bank!

Sometimes on my class visits, I come armed with a bucketful of words written down on little folded bits of paper. The children choose one and then use that word as the focus or subject of the poem that they will try writing.

Start by using words based on my book: whisper, taxi, beehive, fairy, sonata, violin, popcorn, sunflower, detective, sandman, cheer, opossum, and candle. Depending on the age group, I come up with a variety of subjects for the children's to write about. I've even had success when some children trade their word with others if they feel feel stuck.