"Swift Things Are Beautiful" by Elizabeth Coatsworth - Creative Movement
This poem lends itself to interpretive movement. I divide the class into small groups and send them into different areas of the room. I ask them to plan a circle dance in which they have both swift movements (first verse) and slow movements (second verse). After about ten minutes I call them together and as they take turns sharing, the other groups read the poem aloud.
"Ruby B." by Susan Salidor - Rhythm
This poem is a jump rope rhyme about Ruby Bridges, a child my students read about and come to admire. There are many verses and the same words are repeated over and over. I talk about the importance of rhythm in the poem and how, just this once, reading in a sing-song way is appropriate. Then students take turns jumping rope to a verse or two as their classmates read the poem in time with the jumping.
"Something Told the Wild Geese" by Rachel Field - Dynamics
This fall poem puts into words what my students see and hear as Canada Geese fly south over our playground. I use the poem to teach them about reading loudly and softly. There are two words in this poem that are to be whispered and the children quickly figure out which ones. There are also other places where reading louder or softer adds to the spirit of the poem.
"When I First Came to This Land" (American Folksong) - Song
There's music in poetry and song lyrics are poetic. The connection between poetry and song is one I make when we sing this tune. There are so many verses to this song that I omit a few. The children love the humor!
"Smart" by Shel Silverstein - Narrative, Humor
One of my math units is about money. Students learn the coins and their values. Once they know that, then Shel Silverstein's poem about a boy who doesn't understand the values of coins is very funny! The poem is told in narrative form from the boy's perspective. This gives me the opportunity to talk about poems that tell a story.
"In Time of Silver Rain" by Langston Hughes - Words That Paint a Picture
This lovely spring poem is one we read repeatedly because Langston Hughes paints such a vivid word picture. I ask the children, "What pictures do you see in your mind?" I want them to hear this poem read in just girls' voices and then in boys' voices - not that one is better, just different.
"The Three Foxes" by A. A. Milne - Poem From My Childhood
I share at least one or two poems that I've read since childhood. I explain about memorizing special poems and how a poem means one thing to you at age 7 and something else at 50-plus. "Once a poem is inside you it's there for life," I say, "and becomes part of who you are." I hope the poetry I share with my students will become part of who they are and they'll be poetry lovers for life.