From the rhythm of the lines to the joy of playing with words, poetry weaves a special kind of magic. Children love the playfulness of poetry and are natural poets, putting words together in new and unusual ways every day. Whether they hear a poem read aloud or write their own, children are learning about language — and about themselves and others.
Share a Variety of Poetry
A classic nursery rhyme, with its enchanting rhythm and fascinating characters, is a great addition to any group time. Other wonderful poetry can be found in the many anthologies for children, from Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses (Oxford) to A Child's Treasury of Poems by Mark Daniel (Dial). Children will also enjoy a number of modern poems not necessarily written for young readers.
Make Poetry a Part of Your Routine
As children listen to and create poems, they learn to recognize and duplicate beats, patterns, and rhythms — important math skills. And making their own poems builds children's language skills and vocabulary.
Celebrate Children's Spontaneous Poetry
Children make poetry almost every time they engage in creative play. Place a tape recorder in the dramatic-play area or the art center, and record children's conversations. At the end of the day, listen to the tape and write down the best lines. Then share with children the wonderful poetry they created — without even trying.
This article originally appeared in the February 1998 issue of Early Childhood Today.