In her sneak preview of this year's plans, Elizabeth explained that poetry would have pride of place in our fine arts blocks this year. Using Sleeping Bear Press' R is for Rhyme and the Poetry for Young People series, we will develop a poetry course that will give your youngest students a fun and gentle introduction to the art of poetry, your middle students a firm understanding of poetry terms and a familiarity with many great works, and your older students a full-fledged course in poetry.
We will take apart the R is for Rhyme book one letter at a time, tying in the study of poems included in various Poetry for Young People volumes. In each lesson, the children will also work on writing enrichment skills and poetry writing assignments. The works studied as well as the students' own poetry will make perfect assignments for copywork, dictation, and memorization throughout the week. Students will make a poetry notebook throughout the year that includes their work in these lessons. A lined main lesson book or a spiral bound sketch pad would be ideal, but a binder with page protectors or a plain notebook could work well too.
From September - November, we will cover the letters A-l in the R is for Rhyme alphabet and focus on Lewis Carroll, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Edna St. Vincent Millay in the Poetry for Young People books. In January, we'll move forward with M-Z and focus our studies on Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Shakespeare, and William Butler Yeats.
R is for Rhyme book
Concepts to Be Presented:
- Poetry Term: Acrostic
- Writing Concept: Synonyms and Use of Thesaurus
- Poet: Lewis Carroll
These ideas are broken up into five sections that can be covered in one long block or in five short lessons over the course of a week.
Read It: Read the acrostic "Drawing" on the "A" page of R is for Rhyme out loud as a family.
Discuss It: Ask the children what they notice about this poem. When the children have noticed the first letter of each of the lines, ask them what word they spell. What was the poem about? How does it relate to the word?
Do It: Have one family member suggest a word. Write it out vertically on a piece of paper. Take turns making up lines for an acrostic with the word.
Read it: Read the first paragraph of the sidebar text out loud.
Discuss It: Have the kids explain it in their own words. Ask the younger children if they remember the name of the poet mentioned. Ask if they know what book title was mentioned? Does anyone in the family remember the name of Carroll's other famous work?
Do It: Have the children thumb through the pages of Poetry for Young People trying to identify the acrostic mentioned in the text. When they have, read the acrostic poem ("A Boat, Beneath a Sunny Sky" p. 47) aloud. Use the format above the make up an acrostic poem with your family name.
Read It: Read Lewis' biographical information on pages 4-7 of the Poetry for Young People book out loud to the children. Instruct your students to pay close attention as they will need to tell you what they've heard later.
Discuss It: Let each child share the things he/she found interesting in the biography and the story of Alice Pleasance Liddell.
Do It: Have the children put "Lewis Carroll" as a heading on one page of their poetry notebooks. Later, they will write or paste a key-boarded narration here.
Read It: Have one child read the rest of the sidebar text from R is for Rhyme aloud to the family.
Discuss It: Place a thesaurus in the center of the table. Have one child choose a word and let the others offer examples of synonyms for that word. Have one child look it up in the thesaurus and add any synonyms that may not have been mentioned. Ask the children how a thesaurus could be helpful when we are writing poetry. Let them share their answers.
Do It: Have a child look up "lingering" in the thesaurus. Let another point out where it is used in Carroll's acrostic. Read the synonyms aloud and let the children decide if they would have used one of them in place of lingering. Ask them to share why or why not.
Read It: Read the poem "Beautiful Soup" on page 9 of Poetry for Young People aloud to the children.
Discuss It: Ask them what it is about. How does Carroll feel about the soup? How do we know? Ask each child to choose one word from the poem and offer a synonym for it.
Do It: Ask the children to consider some of their favorite foods. Have the children choose one to be the subject of an acrostic poem. Guide the students through the following prewriting exercise from classroom activities offered at the Trumpet Book website.
Younger students may need you to write or keyboard the lists for them. When the students have made their lists, have them use colored pencils to spell the name of the food vertically on a page of their poetry notebooks. Make sure they leave enough space between each letter to write out the lines of their poems.
Have the children write an acrostic poem about their favorite food using the list of descriptive words they brainstormed. Suggest that before they begin, they may want to look up a few of the descriptive words they have chosen in the thesaurus to find synonyms that may better suit their poem.
Let the older children work independently while you keyboard the younger kids' poems. Have the children share their acrostics with one another at tea-time or family dinner.
Extending the lesson:
These ideas can be woven into the week that follows your poetry block. Choose the ones the are most appropriate for your goals in poetry study and that will bring the concepts learned to life for your family.
Ideas for Older Students:
- Write a narration of Carroll's life for their poetry notebooks.
- On the opposite page of their notebooks, the students may want to imitate the caricature of Lewis in the R is for Rhyme illustration.
- Have your older children copy "A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky" and/or "Beautiful Soup" poem into their poetry notebooks. Encourage them to create a decorative border that depicts the poem's content
- Ask the children to read the following acrostic each day for three days and to copy it into their poetry notebooks over the course of those days.
Little maidens, when you look
On this little story-book,
Reading with attentive eye
Its enticing history,
Never think that hours of play
Are your only HOLIDAY,
And that in a HOUSE of joy
Lessons serve but to annoy:
If in any HOUSE you find
Children of a gentle mind,
Each the others pleasing ever--
Each the others vexing never--
Daily work and pastime daily
In their order taking gaily--
Then be very sure that they
Have a life of HOLIDAY
On the fourth day, have the children write the following names vertically down a page in their poetry notebooks: LORINA ALICE EDITH. Read the acrostic aloud to them one line at a time, allowing them time to fill the line in next to the appropriate letter. Allow the students to compare their version to the original and correct all mistakes.
Ideas for Middle Students:
- Have the children divide a page in their poetry notebook into four squares and write an interesting fact about Lewis Carroll in each square. Encourage them to create an illustration for each.
- Have your middle children copy "A Boat, Beneath a Sunny Sky" into their poetry notebooks. Encourage them to illustrate the opposite the page.
- Follow the dictation idea for older students but just use the first section of the poem, with the children reading and taking dictation for only the first six lines, LORINA.
Ideas for Young Students:
- For your youngest students, revisit the illustration in R is for Rhyme. Ask them to point out Lewis Carroll. Do they have any idea who the girl in picture might be? What is she drawing? in what work did Carroll use these characters? Have the students narrate what they have learned about Carroll while you keyboard. Print out their narrations and have them add them to their notebooks.
- Encourage them to create artwork for the opposite page or color one of these amazing coloring pages and add it to the opposite page.
- Younger students use their food acrostics from the presentation section for copywork, copying one line each day.
More Acrostic Ideas:
- Encourage the children to write more acrostic poems using their names, their sibling's names or other favorites like animals or sports. These can be copied into their notebooks and decorated as well.
- Make up more family acrostics like the one in the presentation at dinner or tea-time this week. Get Dad in on the action.
- Write an acrostic style family mission statement using your last name.
- Write acrostic poems using the name of a saint whose feast is celebrated during the week.
- Read the acrostic below as well as the poem "Fr. William" on p.12 of Poetry for Young People one day this week.
"Are you deaf, Father William!" the young man said,
"Did you hear what I told you just now?
"Excuse me for shouting! Don't waggle your head
"Like a blundering, sleepy old cow!
"A little maid dwelling in Wallington Town,
"Is my friend, so I beg to remark:
"Do you think she'd be pleased if a book were sent down
"Entitled 'The Hunt of the Snark?'"
"Pack it up in brown paper!" the old man cried,
"And seal it with olive-and-dove.
"I command you to do it!" he added with pride,
"Nor forget, my good fellow to send her beside
"Easter Greetings, and give her my love."
- Encourage the children to try to memorize one of Lewis Carroll's acrostic poems this week. Have a recitation at tea-time or dinner at the end of the week.