What Was The Final Score Of The Football Game Tonight Teachers – Poetry For Children – Characteristics and Examples

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Teachers – Poetry For Children – Characteristics and Examples

I think one of the most important concepts about poetry is that, “Like a song, poetry is meant to be heard” (Larrick, 1987, p. 20). While good prose can be read aloud or silently, poetry should almost always be read aloud. That poetry needs to be heard can be attributed to the characteristics of poetry that distinguish poetry from prose, that is, rhythm, sound patterns, figuration, compactness, and emotional intensity (Lukens, 1990). I’ll explore each of these in more depth, below:

An example I often use when first teaching the attribute of rhythm to students is Carl Sandburg’s poem, “Was A Drum Ever A Dream?” [Be sure to read this aloud!]

Was a drum ever a dream?

or a drum a dream?

Can a drummer play a dream?

or a dreamer dreams a drum?

The drum in a dream

loudly pounds the dreamer.

Now the moon tonight over Indiana

It’s a fire drum of a ghost dreamer.

Carl Sandburg at Hopkins, 1982

As I read it aloud, I bang on a desk, book, or my lap to make a drum sound to accompany what I’m reading. Then I read it again, only this time, the students beat the beat on their own laps or desks.

“Was Ever a Dream a Drum” can also be used to demonstrate how poetry uses sound patterns, that is, words as sound. However, my favorite poem to use is “The Man with the Jam Hat Arrives,” from Nancy Willard’s Newbery Award-winning book, A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers. Only the first stanza (read aloud, of course) gives you an idea of ​​how Willard used sound patterns in this poem:

The Man in the Jam Hat

arrived in the middle of March

equipped with a bottle of starch

to straighten the curves in the road, he said.

He was carrying a bucket and a mop.

A most uncomfortable burden, he said,

and asked for a room at the top.

Children ask to hear that poem over and over again in order to play with the language of the poem. Just savor saying “a very awkward load” a few times, and you’ll be hooked too!

A third characteristic of poetry is the author’s use of words as meaning, that is, figurativeness. It’s worth it all the little poems The book is full of examples that you can use for this feature. A wonderful specimen is his poem titled “Safety Pin.” [You may want to have a safety pin to look at while you read and enjoy this poem!]

closed, sleep

on your side

Silent,

the silver

Image

of some

Small fish;

open, it breaks

his tail out

like a skinny

Shrimp, and looks

in the sharp

point with a

Surprised eye.

So many images… so few words!

… Which leads to the next characteristic that children need to know about poetry: its compactness. I once heard Virginia Hamilton, an author of young adult novels, exchange views with her husband, the poet Arnold Adoff, about which of them needed more work. The question was whether it was harder to say what you want to say in 15,000 words… or 15 words. The problem was not solved, and probably never will be, but students can learn to appreciate the care with which a poet’s words are chosen. Lukens (1990) says,

The main difference between prose and poetry is compactness. A single word in poetry says much more than a single word in prose; connotations and images hint, imply, and suggest other meanings. (p. 187).

Because poetry is so parsimonious with its words, each one carries great weight. No pun intended, watch (and read aloud) part of Barbara Juster Esbensen’s poem “ELEPHANT”:

The word is too heavy.

get up…

ELEPHANT

must have made it up

the same. this is a piece of wood

gray word her ears

they are huge and flutter like loose

wings a word with

wrinkled knees and toes

like boxing gloves…

A poem I often read to elementary and high school students is from Arnold Adoff’s book. sports pages. It illustrates the last characteristic of poetry that I will discuss here: emotional intensity. A poem in this book tells of a boy who sprained his knee in a soccer game. The following poem begins like this:

My knee is just twisted

it’s just swollen and

the doctor says I’ll be

penalty fee. I will play again

He says this as he

sits on his padding

leather chair that

can rotate 360

greece

Oh

Why not the knees?

Once children are familiar with these characteristics of poetry (ie, rhythm, sound patterns, figurativeness, compactness, and emotional intensity), they will enjoy the challenge of finding poems that exemplify one or more of the characteristics. Your appreciation of poetry is enhanced through your additional knowledge. They are ready to experience poetry more fully.

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