Poetry with Kids

Somerset Festival Poetry Workshop

Poetry Worskhop at Somerset Festival.

Poetry Friday has come around very quickly this week… I’m going to be brave, go out on a limb and throw a question (or two or few) out … to YOU!

  1. If you are a teacher or parent, what do you love best about sharing poetry with kids?
  2. What sort of things take you out of your comfort zone?
  3. If you had a guest author visit your school – or if your child could attend a writing workshop with a poet – what sort of things would you like them to DO?

I absolutely love author visits, but I particularly love conducting poetry workshops with kids. The really wonderful thing about poetry is that teachers are constantly surprised by some of the kids who shine – because more and more I’m finding that poetry enables all kids. In different ways, they can all say things that take your breath away, or send shivers up your spine. And that’s a truly beautiful thing! Only rivalled by the expression on the faces of those kids who don’t normally experience success with writing…

PoetryWorkshop02

Playing with poetry.

So often when I’ve conducted sessions with/for kids, the supervising adults have commented about how much they’ve learnt – how much fun they’ve had – and the teachers have rated it highly as a professional development opportunity. Which is really lovely, because not only did that group benefit from the experience, but future classes will continue to benefit, from the enthusiasm/experience of the teacher. My heart sings.

But it also makes me wonder, is there any particularly burning questions that teachers/parents might have about poetry? Or any particular poetic devices that they’d like classes to explore within a workshop?

I have heaps of activities I love to do – but I just thought I’d throw it out there and see if there’s something that you would like to see/do, if you had the opportunity.

Love to hear your thoughts! (Don’t be shy…)

Oops! I forgot to link up to the Poetry Friday Round-up on Buffy’s blog. Be sure to check out all the great posts about poetry, to inspire you in your play with poetic words – after Buffy has regaled you with Toad’s Swampy Serenade. (It may be that I have a toad poem myself, titled, ‘Bufo Marinus – What am I?’ … I’m sure you can guess!)

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19 comments

  1. Not sure this answers your question, Kat, but I’ve found that kids and teachers love to be shown that they CAN write poetry. From about middle primary up I find that when I say ‘poetry workshop’ the kids look either scared or bored – but then when I read them some poems and use those as scaffolds, they engage and are surprised that they can do it too.

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    • I think you’re right, Sally. So many people seem to have a pre-conceived idea about what poetry is… often based on a bad experience they’ve had. They love to play with new possibilities. And there are so many fun forms to explore.

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  2. I’ve taught poetry to middle school kids for years, and found they love the freedom to choose how they want to present their words, but I’ve acted as “facilitator”, showing them forms and parts of how poems “can” work. They like the knowledge, and the challenge. One writer that worked with us actually wrote with us, a wonderful thing, and he took the time to take the students’ writing home with him, commented on each, and mailed them back. I know my students loved their peers’ and my responses, but that time, from whom they knew was a “real” writer, was very special. I know that if you visit a school and work with many that it’s not possible, but in case sometimes it’s a small class, your personal response would be powerful.

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    • I remember the feedback I had from a ‘real writer’ when I was in Year 7, Linda – and you’re right, it is special. Even though I didn’t want to be a writer at that stage, her comments stayed with me through the years. Your kids are so fortunate to have you sharing your passion and knowledge with them, Linda.

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  3. When I’ve led poetry workshops, I’ve written with kids too. At first I hesitated to share my poems, not wanting the kids to feel like mine was written the right way…but kids come up with such amazing stuff with a few prompts that it’s never been a problem.

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    • Hearing the reasoning (which they always love to share!) behind their choices makes the kids’ poetry so much more amazing. But that’s a good reminder, Buffy, to write with the kids, too. Thanks!

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  4. One of my fondest memories from high school was a poetry workshop by a visiting poet. She was wonderful, and I wish I had stayed in touch with her. I love to make poetry with my kids, written or improv’ed on the spot, so they see that it can be spoken, not just written. It can be ephemeral like a flower, casual like a butterfly landing, impermanent, shifting and jibing.

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  5. Poetry Workshop definitely. I have had poets come for more than a day to do mini-workshops. It’s the best. I am constantly amazed that students can create with little prompting.

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  6. We had a wonky schedule this last week because of state testing (ugh), so I used one of our odd scraps of time for poetry writing each day. I just about couldn’t tear my students away from it to go to related arts, they were having so much fun! We used images and wrote short forms (15 words or less, haiku), then I had them try letter poems and recipe poems. Yesterday, we BAM! POW! SWISH! tried using onomatopoeia!

    A couple of my students wholeheartedly suggested that I start a poetry club next year. How’s that for high praise?!?!

    What I love the most about writing poetry with kids is that you can totally sell them on revision. They will gladly make two or three new drafts because they are only working with a handful (or two) of words.

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    • And that is reason for anyone to smile, Mary Lee. Fabulous! (And yay for a poetry club! :P) I’m not familiar with letter poems… Will have to do a google, methinks.

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