Poetry in Our Homeschool This Year

I have a whole bunch of  things I want to share about how we are doing things this homeschool year. Last week I shared our math picture book list. Today, I’d like to share what we are doing for poetry this year. We do two things for poetry: read it and memorize it. Our poetry reading this year is as follows…

My fourth grader is reading through A Child’s Introduction to Poetry with me, like all of her siblings before her. I love this book! A Child’s Introduction to Poetry is a selection from BookShark’s American History 1.  Each day we read a few pages about a certain form of poetry and the poets who wrote it…so far we have learned about nursery rhymes, nonsense verse, and limericks, among others . After we read, we pop in the accompanying CD and listen to a narrator read several poems in that style aloud. If you are looking for an easy-to-use, engaging introduction to poetry, I highly recommend this resource!

My seventh grader is reading through Favorite Poems Old and New with me. This is a selection from BookShark’s World History 1. But we owned the book long before that…in fact we are on our second copy because our first one literally fell apart from use. We are usually assigned to read a few poems each day, which I read aloud right before we do our literature read-aloud. If you could only  have one poem book in your homeschool, this would definitely be the one I recommend!

My ninth grader is reading A Treasury of Poetry for Young People, a selection from BookShark American History 100. He is doing all of his own reading this year, except for poetry, because I think it “goes” much better read aloud and discussed, just a bit. This book is unique because it focuses on just six poets. Each poet has their own section, which includes a biography followed by several poems. It’s an all-in-one poet study and I enjoy the focus on just one poet at a time. Note: this book is out of print on Amazon, but BookShark carries it. It is a bit spendy though, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend buying it outside of the program since there are so many other great poetry books out there.

My eleventh grader is reading Heart to Heart this year, a selection from Sonlight’s Core 300 20th Century World History. It’s a pretty light poetry year for her; I believe she is typically only assigned a poem or two a week to read. Still, the book is a nice addition to this core and quite unique.  Each page depicts a painting, sculpture or other artwork, and then an accompanying poem that was inspired by that artwork. Such a neat idea! She prefers to do most of her work independently at this point, so I don’t read this one aloud with her, but I look forward to doing so with Christopher when he starts this Core later this year. 
The second piece of our poetry study, besides reading, is memory work. My three younger kids are memorizing several poems this year. They choose their own poems from any of the poetry resources we have, though Favorite Poems Old and New is their favorite resource by far. Each day, they read their poem to themselves several times.  Once they have it down, they recite it to me, then type the poem up (I type Rose’s) and file it in their binder. I usually ask them to memorize around five poems a year, depending on length. Memorizing poetry is one of the few things I remember from high school – I can still recite Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” from junior year English class.

So that’s this year’s poetry study in a nutshell.  Thanks for stopping by!

A Review of A Child’s Introduction to Poetry

James and I have been reading through A Child’s Introduction to Poetry, as scheduled in BookShark’s American History 1.

This book is also scheduled in Sonlight’s Core D, which I did with Grace and Christopher, so this is my second time through the book. It is one of my very favorite books from this Core, and it’s a really easy way to do a poetry study with young kids.

This book is scheduled over 36 weeks: a full school year. We generally cover one poet per week.  Each poem has an accompanying CD track, so you can listen to the poem being read aloud. 

Our poetry CD has a permanent spot in our disc changer. I don’t think it has moved since last August!

A Child’s Introduction to Poetry is a full-color, nicely illustrated book with lots of helpful sidebars. It is definitely a book best read side-by-side on the couch, so you can pore over it a bit.  Each poet generally gets a double-page spread, though some poets have three pages. Each week I begin by reading aloud the main text, which includes information about the poet’s life and work.

Next I read the “Words for the Wise” section, which introduces words from the poem that might be unfamiliar. In the poem itself, these words appear in bold, colored print.

A sidebar includes information about when the poem was published, as well as some insight into its meaning. This sidebar also includes the relevant track number on the CD that we will listen to.

Then I read the poem aloud. This week we had “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, one of my very favorite poets.

 After I read the poem aloud, we listen to the narrator read it on the CD. We usually listen to each poem twice, because I feel like we get more out of it that way. Some poets are given space for two or three poems, depending on length.  This takes us only 15 minutes tops, and then we are done until the next week.

The only small quibble I have with this book is that I don’t like the narrators’ voices. I just don’t always love the way they read the poems and the voices they do are kind of cheesy. For the record I don’t enjoy hearing Jim Weiss reading The Story of the World either, so I may just be weird. Other than that I love this book/CD combo. There is a good mix of easier, shorter poems and longer, more advanced ones. Many forms of poetry are included: sonnets, pastorals, limericks, ballads, nursery rhymes, and more. I think Amazon’s age range of 8-13 for this book is spot on.We are using it during James’s fourth grade year.

Poetry Study

Poetry at our house this year is much like it was last year, with a few small changes. Grace and Christopher are using A Child’s Introduction to Poetry, one of Sonlight’s Core D books. We have really been enjoying this one! Each week we are assigned one poet to study. The text includes some information about the poet’s life, the style of poetry they wrote, and a brief introduction to some poetry terms. There are often humorous little snippets about the poet as well. Each section ends with a poem or two, written by that poet. The book is colorful and well illustrated. After the kids read over the information, we discuss it-very briefly-and listen to the poem on the audio CD.

 In addition to this weekly poetry study, we are also doing occasional poetry teatimes where the children each pick a poem or two to read while we have tea. Last time we did this over lunch, with tea instead of our usual milk, and they thought it was very exciting. I was surprised that they volunteered to read their poems aloud, since reading aloud has never been a big hit around here.

The last piece of our poetry study is poem memory work. The three older children each choose a poem to memorize from one of our poetry books. It can be a funny poem, a serious poem, a nature poem….anything goes. They simply read their poem every day until they know it by heart, no matter how long that takes. Then they write it out, illustrate it, and it gets filed in their language arts binder. Then it is time to choose a new poem!

Poetry is very much enjoyed at our house, even though we keep things pretty simple and don’t spend much time per week on it.

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