Thursday, November 27, 2014

Time To Rhyme

Using Poetry with your Children

Poetry is as simple as saying to your two year old, "I don't suppose you can touch your nose with your toes?" or, "Before you put on your pants, shake out any ants!"

 I dream of ice cream
This kind of rhyming catches a young child's attention and forces them to smile, but also to think. One of the reasons I did these fun exchanges with my daughter was because it kept me engaged in some of the daily activities like getting dressed... always an advocate for living life with a smile...

Depending on the age of your child, these 'games' (as I like to call them) should be adjusted, but be sure to throw words out there that your child will not necessarily know. Kid's brains are great at surmising meanings. They appreciate intelligent conversation, stretching minds... "All this play in the park has made me ravenous, I think I could eat a rhinoceros".

I used to nanny an eight year old girl and a five year old boy, throwing out creative words into the conversation, because I noticed that the girl was a really good listener and she would invariably ask me what a word meant if she didn't recognize it... "that sounds like pure balderdash to me" or "could you please enunciate and elevate your murmurs?" This was a beautiful thing, because her younger brother was benefiting as well, and our entire experience was elevated to a higher level of mutual respect.

Learning should be gained from intrinsic motivation, and this often comes using the loveliness of language. 

Awesome Alliteration

Thankful tears tumbled through to tickle tender thoughts

Actionable Activities 

  • Laugh - Be Silly - Have Fun: Puns, jokes and riddles are good ways to combine creative language and humor. A family tradition for the Greens has been to write out short couplets for Christmas or birthday gifts giving a clue as to what's inside... adding a bonus to the present. I love to write them, and our nieces and nephew look forward to them!
Tip me over and pour me out
  • Act out poems - Start young with "I'm a little teapot" and continue on... 
    • Create your own greeting cards - Making birthday, Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween etc. cards are a fantastic way to be creative with poetry and drawing. 
    • Sing to and with your children - Singing lyrics to a nursery rhyme or a musical (My Fair Lady... the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain!) you have been playing is all in the same vein of making every moment of life fun, entertaining and language building. 
    • Change words to a poem or song - Children will be older for this ingenious task generally. Start with simply changing the last words in a line matching the rhyme scheme, and build on it. 
    • Play rhyming games while walking or driving - One of my favorites is to start with a word and take turns within the conversation building either a straight rhyme or adding a clever alliteration... Do you like grapes? Not if the grape is fake. Do you like green grapes that escape to the floor? And out the door? Or, into my belly made into jelly...
    • Draw Pictures of Poems - No matter the age of the child, it is a brilliant exercise to read a short poem and copy it onto a blank sheet of paper, and then draw a simple picture to convey your interpretation of the poem. Emily Dickinson and Robert Louis Stevenson are but a few classic choices... the library beckons!
    A word is dead 
    When it is said
          Some say.
    I say it just 
    Begins to live 
                                          That day.   Emily Dickinson
    • Write Poems of Pictures - This is a more advanced challenge. My father and my daughter had great times together by mixing and matching pictures and poems. One would draw a picture and the other would compose a poem for the etching. Recently, I attended an open mic reading and a grandfather had done just what I was describing. His granddaughter had made a terrific drawing of a stage curtain, which inspired him to write a poem about it. He read it to us and I enjoyed it so much I have it here for your viewing pleasure.
    Thanks to Elisabeth and Scott

    • Critique Poems - Read two poems, then pick your favorite and explain why. 
    • Get your child their own library card - Empowering young children begins with personalizing and ownership. Have your child with you at the library to sign up letting them do as much as possible. Then, always let them use the card to check out books themselves. The satisfaction on  their face is so rich when they choose and check out their own books. We used to do ten books at a time (I chose five and Anna chose five). Returning the books on time is another lesson in responsibility. 

    Dream a little, dream a lot, 
    Childhood shall not be forgot.

    Papa Green Bean