Activities for Teaching Poetry in the Early Years

Childcare Activities

Activities for Teaching Poetry in the Early Years

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Activities for Teaching Poetry in the Early Years

  1. Read Books and Poems
  2. Make Up Your Own Poems
  3. Nursery Rhymes
  4. Rhyming Games
  5. Beat Out The Rhythm
  6. Counting Poems
  7. Poems with Actions
  8. Nonsense Verse

Most preschool settings will already be incorporating poetry into everyday activities, for example through reading books and nursery rhymes. But there are lots of other ways to explore poetry with young children, and many benefits to be gained from doing so.

The Benefits of Exploring Poetry in the Early Years

A key characteristic of children’s poetry is its playfulness, so it’s no wonder that young children naturally respond well to this. But apart from being really fun, exploring poetry can be beneficial in several interlinked ways:

poetry

Different Attributes of Poetry to Explore

There are several attributes of poetry to consider when planning activities (see next section for specific ideas); you might concentrate on one at a time or combine them:

Rhythm – even small babies respond instinctively to rhythm, and children of all ages enjoy clapping, drumming and dancing to a beat. Get the children physically engaged with poetry by exploring rhythm and helping them to recognise syllables, sequences and patterns.

Rhyme – being able to identify rhyming sounds is a core literacy skill, and there are all kinds of activities that you can do to focus on rhyme. This is one of the most fun aspects of poetry for young children, so tap into their enthusiasm by getting them to identify and make up their own sets of rhymes.

Alliteration – exploring alliteration (which is when all or most of the words in a phrase or sentence start with the same letter or sound) is a good way to help children learn how to identify and distinguish different sounds.

Descriptive words – reading, learning and making up poems is a great way of boosting young children’s vocabulary and enhancing their ability to express thoughts and emotions.

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Poetry Activities

1. Read Books and Poems

Pick out some books from your nursery library that are written in rhyming verse (eg Dr Suess, Julia Donaldson); read them together, and get the children to call out the words at the end of each line. Find some good examples of poems written especially for young children (eg Michael Rosen).

2. Make Up Your Own Poems

Help the children make up short poems, and record or memorise them together. As a starting point, try focusing on a particular theme (eg describing the weather, or an object, or how they feel), or a particular technique (eg alliteration, or onomatopoeia).


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3. Nursery Rhymes

Do some extension activities based on familiar – or new – nursery rhymes. For example, you could get the children to create pieces of artwork related to the nursery rhyme, or act out the story using puppets.

4. Rhyming Games

There are lots of different activities you could try, but here are two ideas: the first is a matching game, which involves pairing up cards with pictures of things that rhyme (eg clock and lock), and the second is ‘pass the beanbag’, in which a circle of children build up chains of words that rhyme.

poetry

5. Beat Out The Rhythm

Choose some favourite poems or nursery rhymes and give the children various instruments (drums, shakers, bells) so that they can beat out the rhythm as you recite them together.

6. Counting Poems

Use poems and nursery rhymes that feature numbers (eg ‘One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Once I Caught a Fish Alive’, or ‘One Potato, Two Potato’) to practice numeracy skills.

7. Poems with Actions

Children love poems and nursery rhymes that incorporate actions (such as ‘Nut Tree’ and ‘If You’re Happy and You Know it’), and this is a great way to channel their energy and enthusiasm.

8. Nonsense Verse

Explore some tongue twisters and other silly poems, and let the children revel in the fun of simply playing with words.

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Why not take a look at some of our other language learning articles:

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