Poetry. Just the word can make even the best and most energetic homeschool parents want to run for the hills. You’re not alone if the words “iambic pentameter” make you cringe and bring back memories of boring, miserable 5th-grade poetry units with forced memorization and painful rhyming and rhythm analysis. Teaching writing is hard enough, but teaching poetry can seem downright dreadful, especially if you’ve not had a great experience with studying poetry in the past. But, as a writing teacher, I’ve always found that teaching poetry is a simple, fun way to open wide the beautiful world of writing as expression. Poetry is shorter, more vivid, and has fewer rules than formal writing. What’s not to love about those things? In honor of National Poetry Month, here’s a case for poetry, and a few of the best poetry lesson plans that just might make a believer — no, a poet — out of you!
Why poetry lesson plans?
Besides the fact that poetry is beautiful, there are many good reasons to give your students a strong foundation in poetry. Here’s my case for teaching poetry well!
- Poetry is beautiful “She walks in beauty, like the night, Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that’s best of dark and bright, Meet in her aspect and her eyes.” Enough said. Thanks, Lord Byron!
- Poetry exposes humanity Poetry is meant to show the writer’s heart and perspective without the confines of formality. This means we get a more pure window into the heart and soul of the writer, something that helps us connect to one another and other time periods.
- Poetry is biblical If we want to give our children the ability to understand and interpret God’s word, they need to be able to read and analyze poetry. Just pick up the Psalms and you’ll understand!
- Poetry is expression Poetry is one of the truest forms of human expression. It is, at its core, emotional communication. Poetry has the power to move us while making us think in ways we don’t usually think, and understand language in new, fresh ways.
Five foundational poetry lesson plans
April is National Poetry Month, so why not make poetry the core of your language arts curriculum by using these poetry lesson plans?
- Classic Poetry Alive and Aloud Poetry is meant to be read aloud so that the words can be given the emotion they deserve. And as is often the truth with literature, the best place to start is with the classics. Begin your poetry lesson plans by listening to the best. From Shakespeare to Kipling to Longfellow, podomatic.com has hundreds of classic poems to enjoy aloud. Use this basic poetry analysis sheet as you listen to and study each poem.
- African American Perspectives If you do no other poetry lesson plans, do this one! Written with Dr. Maya Angelou for poetryfoundation.org, Dream in Color includes poetry units for all grade levels and is organized by topic. Yes, there are even poems about sports!
- Preschool Poets Young learners will love this FREE poetry unit from Preschool Powol Packets that includes fun poems from Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends.
- Sensational Poetry All poems should speak to our senses. So, why not teach poetry from the perspective of the 5 senses? This poetry lesson plan from readwritethink.org does just that, and is best for older students who want to develop a better understanding of writing poetry.
- A Poem A Day Not sure how to fit in another thing? In honor of National Poetry Month, com highlights one famous poem, poet, and book of poetry each day. This is the easiest way to integrate poetry lesson plans into your already hectic routine.
Robert Frost said, “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought, and the thought has found its words.” Dive into the rich, deep waters of poetry during National Poetry Month. Drink deeply and let words unhindered move you to a better understanding of language, of the world, and of yourself. You won’t regret it.