Looking back to the beginning of our homeschool journey, one thing I was totally intimidated by was poetry. As I discovered Charlotte Mason-inspired homeschool accounts on Instagram, I kept seeing children reciting long verses from famous poets, sipping tea at “poetry tea time,” and copying excerpts of poems with deep language as early as first grade. I wasn’t raised in an educational environment like this, so it was all new to me. How could such young children appreciate such rich language and complex meanings? Why even teach poetry?
I began to read Charlotte Mason’s words and this passage hit me like a ton of bricks.
“Older children should practice reading aloud every day, and their readings should include a good deal of poetry, to accustom him to the delicate rendering of shades of meaning, and especially to make him aware that words are beautiful in themselves, that they are a source of pleasure, and are worthy of our honour; and that a beautiful word deserves to be beautifully said, with a certain roundness of tone and precision of utterance. Quite young children are open to this sort of teaching, conveyed, not in a lesson, but by a word now and then."
- Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1
What this said to me is that poetry introduces children to beautiful thoughts and language. It gives depth and meaning to words. Reciting poetry encourages children to speak with excellence and precision. Young children can engage with poetry by simply hearing and enjoying it.
So, when my two oldest were preschool age, I decided to jump in with a few poetry books and keep it light-hearted. I would bake some muffins and brew some tea and read a few poems aloud. Kids would spill tea, ask a thousand questions, or completely zone out. I knew it was worth continuing on though.
As they have gotten a little older, I’ve begun including poetry in our daily Morning Time. I choose one poem a week or so and write it on our chalkboard. I also type it out and print it and include it in our Morning Time Menus (simply a menu cover with all of our Morning Time printables in it). Each morning we read the poem aloud and interact with it in a different way. Each week we copy the poem to practice handwriting and grammar, memorize selections of the piece, and study the poet. Poetry has added such depth and beauty to our home education.
In all of the curriculums I have written, you will find selections of beautiful poetry with specific ways planned each day to engage and respond to the poems and poets. In A Connected Christmas, you will find poems about the majesty of winter, the emotion of Christ’s arrival, and the wonder of three kings. An Expectant Easter includes selections featuring the beauty of springtime robins, the depth of the crucifixion, and the celebration of the resurrection. My latest release, Treehouse Nature Study: Autumn, features a nature-themed poem each week with themes like the beauty of colorful Autumn leaves and the wonder of the eagle. In these guides, you will find poems from great poets like A.A. Milne, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Emily Dickinson.
Here are some of the ways we engage with poetry in our homeschool that have also been included in the lesson plans in all of these curriculums:
- Simply read, enjoy, and discuss new language and ideas in the poem.
- Imagine a scene that displays the full poem or a part of the poem. Draw or paint a picture of what you imagine.
- Do a poet study. Look up the poet online and read a biography. Find where the poet was born on a world map. Mark the poet’s life on a timeline.
- Copy an excerpt or the full poem. Practice handwriting and grammar as you copy.
- Practice recitation with the poem, focusing on posture, expressive reading, and clarity of speech.
- Memorize a portion of or the entire poem.
If you are looking for a simple way to get started with poetry in your homeschool, try beginning with one of the poetry books listed in this blog post:
Another resource, perfect for Morning Time is my Nature Poetry Collection. This 40-page set includes 20 beloved children’s poems on nature themes including Animals, Bees, Birds, Butterflies, Earth, Minibeasts, Plants, Sky, Water, and Trees.
If you are looking for a more well-rounded, deeper approach to poetry, with fully planned out lesson plans, try Treehouse Nature Study Autumn! This full 13-week nature study curriculum focuses on a new Autumn nature theme each week and includes poetry as well as art study, folk songs, hand rhymes, living book lists, and nature connection activities.