Children and Prose: You may be Surprised by Your Little Poet

. July 29, 2016.

Summer offers much to appreciate – scarlet geraniums, birdsong, mud squishing below your shoes after a good thunderstorm. Get the kids outside to truly observe and enjoy it – while composing summer-themed poetry. 

While children explore their surroundings, using words to express their feelings and observations, they’ll hone valuable language skills like vocabulary, critical thinking, and communicating with few words. Taking turns reading poetry aloud helps children practice trust, listening, empathy and public speaking. Experiment with assonance (repeated vowel sounds), alliteration (repeated consonant sounds), rhyme, and other manipulations of language, and kids discover the unique fun possible via their imagination. 

Here are some activities to try:

Sensory Poem. Grab a pen and paper. Have your child sit quietly outside with eyes closed. Have him say something he hears, mimicking the sound. (“I hear wind./Swish!”) Then something he smells. (“I smell mud.”) Have him open his eyes and say something he sees and its color. (“I see a squirrel./It’s brownish.”) Write each observation on its own line. Read the notes to him, showing him his words on the page. Ask if he wants to make additions or changes.  

Silly List Poem. Have your child list five things she sees (tree/flower/car/mailbox/stop sign). If she can’t write yet, or is intimidated, you can write for her. Next, have her make each item silly, by adding something whimsical that each object might do or say. (“Tree singing to the clouds/flower that smells like pizza/car driven by a camel.”) If your child is writing herself, try writing your own poem along with her, and compare—did you list any of the same items? If so, how did you silly-up your items differently? Encourage her to expand and write more about her favorite list item in a new poem.

Persona Poems employ the perspective of someone or something other than writers themselves. Have your child write as if he is an object outside, using the word “I.” (“I’m a rabbit/nibbling wet grass.”) Ask him to think about the rabbit, drawing on knowledge he has, but also inventing. What might the rabbit do next? Who are his friends? What makes him happy or afraid? What does he want? (“I hope a dog doesn’t chase me./If so, I’ll turn my ears into/a helicopter and fly away.”)  

For some online poetry fun try these websites: