Friday, May 18, 2018

Our Homeschool: Poetry in 2017-2018

Poetry is a part of our culture studies loop: Three or four times a week, depending on our schedule, we loop through these subjects:
  • Shakespeare
  • Poetry
  • Shakespeare
  • Picture Study
You can read more about the loop scheduling here. (I've moved Fairy Tales to our read-aloud loop since writing that post.)

Shakespeare gets double-duty because it includes review of our memorized passages. (Here's an example of what Shakespeare looks like for us.)

During this poetry time, I pull a book of poetry off the shelf and I read a handful of poems. Generally I keep going for about ten minutes or as long as we are all interested. Then I put in the book mark and we pick it up again the next time Poetry rolls around. I do not discuss meter, rhythm, rhyme, or other such things unless someone asks a particular question. I do sometimes explain a word if it's one they might not know. Mostly, though, we enjoy poetry together. Here are the books we read over the 2017-2018 school year.

Classic Poetry: An Illustrated Collection selected by Michael Rosen has a carefully selected collection of two or three poems by prominent poets in roughly chronological order, but I was disappointed at the times only a portion of a poem was included without any indication that it was just a portion. I don't mind excerpts of poetry for younger audiences; I just like to know. There was a nice sentence of two to introduce each poet. We started it last school year but didn't finish, so I picked up where we left off at the beginning of the year. (There's a newer version available, but we read the old one from our library.)

The House of a Mouse by Aileen Fisher, illustrated by Joan Sandin - We've memorized many of Aileen Fisher's poems, so when I saw this book of poetry available I picked it up. It's a whole book of poems about mice. The youngest two especially enjoyed it. I was, as always, conflicted about poems about sweet little field mice because I pretty much hate them whenever they find their way into our house. But they are sweet little poems for little folks. (own, from PaperBackSwap.com)

The Frogs and Toads All Sang by Arnold Lobel, color by Adrianne Lobel - This is a book of silly frog and toad poems. We read it in one sitting and the younger children especially enjoyed it. (library copy)

A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk: A forest of poems by Deborah Ruddell, illustrated by Joan Rankin - And another book of silly poems. These are certainly more amusing than edifying, but it was highly enjoyed. (library copy)

Walking the Bridge of Your Nose: Wordplay Poems and Rhymes selected by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Chloe Cheese - And yet another book of silly poems. I read these aloud, but often found myself needing to show the words of the poem so the kids could see the puns and jokes. I think they were best appreciated when the kids read them aloud themselves. They definitely loved reading them aloud. It was fun for me to watch the younger ones as they figured out the jokes. (library copy)

Peaceful Pieces: Poems and Quilts about Peace by Anna Grossnickle Hines is a book of poetry around the theme of peace. The poems were a bit uneven in quality, with some I liked very much and others I found forced or awkward. The kids' favorite was From a Story in the Paper about a snake that made friends with its intended food, a hamster. (library copy)

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems by Gail Carson Levine with illustrations by Matthew Cordell is a whole collection of poems written in the style of William Carlos Williams's This Is Just to Say. Most of them are entertaining, but the best of them are written as if by fairy tale or Mother Goose rhyme characters. The kids had fun yelling out the character before I flipped the book to show the illustration. The illustrations are all pen and ink and purposefully ragged; not my favorite illustrations, but variety is good when reading aloud to four children. (library copy)

During Advent, we read from The Oxford Book of Christmas Poems, which we've been checking out from our library every December for a few years now. I just start where we stopped the year before. It has an expansive collection, though sometimes I think the page layouts are erratic. (library copy)

Overall, our poetry for the year leant much more to the humorous than in years past. This was a good balance for our single poet studies. As with the books above, I didn't make a real "study" out of any of these. We read one poem each day until the book was finished. I like the Poetry for Young People series because the selections are already edited with young people in mind. I might not always have chosen exactly the same poems, but I'm willing to make concessions when they've already done the work. My children appreciate illustrations on every page. There is also usually a brief introduction for each poem which I read aloud before the poem.

Walt Whitman (purchased used)

Langston Hughes  (library copy)

William Butler Yeats (purchased used)

This post contains my own opinions. I've indicated which books we own and which we checked out from the library. I received nothing for writing this post. The links above to Amazon and PaperBackSwap are all affiliate links.

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