Poetry in Motion

Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.4

What You Need: Give Yourself to the Rain, by Margaret Wise Brown; chart paper; marker; printouts of a poem (one for each student)

What to Do: Adding movement to an activity can be a wonderful and invigorating way to engage our youngest learners. Ashley Sharp, who teaches kindergarten in Kawkawlin, Michigan, combines rhyming text and movement during shared reading activities to get all of her young learners interested and involved.

She begins by writing her original poem “Rain” on chart paper and distributing a copy to each student. Then, while kids follow along, she reads the poem aloud. (Feel free to use Sharp’s poem or explore a poem from the book Give Yourself to the Rain.)  

Rain, by Ashley Sharp
Raindrops, raindrops
On the ground
Raindrops, raindrops
Splash around
Raindrops, raindrops
On the street
Raindrops, raindrops
On my feet
Raindrops, raindrops
On the tree
Raindrops, raindrops
Not on me

Next, Sharp and her students decide on hand gestures and movements to assign to each line of the poem. Some examples are wiggling fingers while moving hands downward to show rain, pointing at the ground, or mimicking movements such as jumping or tapping. Once these are decided upon, she adds prompts next to the appropriate line of the poem on the chart paper. Feel free to add pictures to help students recognize the movements.

Finally, Sharp reads the poem with her students while they perform and practice the gestures and movements. Students are encouraged to bring the poem home with them and to practice reading and acting it out with their family members.

“These repeated readings help us improve sight-word recognition and writing skills and, of course, allow us to use our imaginations!” says Sharp, who blogs at One Sharp Bunch.

Follow the Dots

Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.4.b

What You Need: Chart paper, pointer, marker, dot stickers in assorted colors  

What to Do: Amanda Richardson, who taught kindergarten and first grade in Texas and now creates teacher resources, understands the importance of making time for shared reading. “It’s a valuable part of a balanced literacy approach, and a time for the teacher and students to practice together. It’s simple to implement, and it was a favorite time for all in our classroom,” she says.

First, Richardson would find a short text. (As an alternative, consider choosing a verse from a familiar song like “Yellow Submarine.” You can also visit familyfriendpoems.com for short creative poems.) After writing the lines on chart paper, she read the verse aloud with her students, pointing at each word as she said it. She also placed dot stickers, in one color, under each word to highlight the one-to-one correspondence.

After reading through the text several times over the course of a week, Richardson asked students to identify sight words and patterns in the rhyme. She had students take turns placing dot stickers—a different color for each prompt (repetition of words, rhyming words)—under sight words or patterns they noticed in the text. Create a key on chart paper to reinforce the idea that each dot color is meant to show a different aspect of the poem.

As an extension activity, place the text in the literacy center. “What we practiced together became something for students to practice with each other. They loved this because they got to ‘play teacher,’” says Richardson, who blogs at Mrs. Richardson’s Class.

Big Books

Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3

What You Need: Big book versions of two of the following: White Rabbit’s Color Book, by Alan Baker, No, David! by David Shannon, and Good Night, Gorilla, by Peggy Rathmann; chart paper; marker; sticky notes

What to Do: Big books are an excellent way to make sure all students are on the same page when learning to decode words. Alison Ryan, a reading specialist at Gateway Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, finds big books an engaging way to help kids follow along during shared reading activities.

First, Ryan chooses one or two short, familiar texts available as big books to reread over the course of a week. Use your own favorites or try books like White Rabbit’s Color Book, No, David! or Good Night, Gorilla. After introducing the book, she reads it all the way through, calling out common vocabulary words. She writes the words on chart paper, and asks her students questions like “What/Who is the book about?” and “Where does the book take place?”

“Shared reading can be used to teach decoding strategies. You can model how to use visual, syntax, and meaning clues to decode words,” says Ryan, who blogs at Learning at the Primary Pond.

Next, she revisits the book with a focus on decoding. She takes sticky notes and covers four or five words throughout the text. She then asks students to decode the words using the images on the page, as well as the words before and after the mystery word. She leaves the sticky notes on the words until students guess correctly. (Write the decoded words on chart paper for future reference.) Lastly, you can repeat the exercise by covering other words to be decoded.

Point and Read

Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.1.a

What You Need: Chart paper; marker; Pocket Poems, by Bobbi Katz and Marilyn Hafner; printouts of a poem (one for each student)

What to Do: “I use shared reading to help my students with directionality, one-to-one correspondence, concept of word and letter, punctuation, and just a bit of comprehension,” says Amy Williams, who teaches first grade at Fulton Elementary in Springfield, Ohio. “Many of them knew very little about the basic features of print or the organization of books.”  

Williams begins by writing a short poem on chart paper. She then distributes copies of the poem to her students. (Try Pocket Poems as a resource.) Next, she reads the short poem aloud. While reading, she makes sure to model directionality and one-to-one correspondence, moving from left to right and pointing to words as she reads. She takes the appropriate pauses and changes her tone to emphasize punctuation.

Then, Williams prompts students to read along with her, having them point to each word and mirror her intonations. She next has students go through their copy of the poem, underlining sight words and rhyming words, and circling specific letters, such as capital letters or a letter of the week. Finally, she rereads the poem and has her students identify the appropriate words to underline and letters to circle on the chart-paper version.

“I love how interactive shared readings are. They’re organic and allow students to learn about the print concepts in a way that makes text accessible to emerging readers,” says Williams, who blogs at Eclectic Educating


Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Sharp

Click Here to Subscribe to Scholastic Teacher Magazine