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Welcome Friends! Here is a place for teachers, parents, librarians and writers to learn what's going on in the world of book author Karma Wilson.

National Poetry Month, some ideas for teachers

You know, when I teach older primary students (5th, 6th) a poetry seminar, I always start by asking who likes poetry. Many times only four or five students will raise their hands. Then I ask, “How many like music sung by a band or singer?” and most of the kids will raise their hands. I then say, “AH HA! So you DO like poetry?!”  I point out that poetry is EVERYWHERE. It’s in commercials, music, and even video games (Oblivion, a popular video game, is full of cryptic poems).  When kids realize that many of their favorite  songs are nothing more than poetry set to music they open up a little bit. Share with them some truly humorous poems and they open up even more. Lay that foundation, and moving onto more somber or contemplative poetry isn’t nearly as painful.

So whenever you have students compile poetry for poetry notebooks, compilations–allow them a few pages for the lyrics of their favorite songs. This leads you into a great meter lesson by the way. And as something of a meter-cop I always look for good meter lessons!

 Cool Meter Lesson

A lot of great songs don’t scan so well when simply read. Meter is greatly affected by singing–beats can be added to a line simply by singing one word for a longer time or adding “ooooo, ohhhh, ya ya”. A good meter lesson is to have the kids agree on one popular song (of course they must choose only from songs with clean lyrics..ha ha) and see if it scans when read aloud. If not, work with the students on adding words or changing lines just enough to keep true to the original thoughts of the song, while improving meter.  (This lesson requires that the teacher has a basic concept of good meter and poetry rhythm.)

Good Poetry for Kids

Well, I hate to brag…but my new poetry book for kids has quite a mixture of poems, from the contemplative to the outrageously ridiculous, and I try to include a lot of teaching opportunities as well. (Teachers, there’s even a poem in honor of you–since so many humorous children’s poems villanize you–look for my poem called Red Letter Day)

Other great choices are Shel Silverstien, Jack Prelutsky, Doug Florian, Mary Ann Hoberman, Nikki Grimes.  For more classic poems just introduce them to the tried and true–Emily Dickinson, Frost, Lear, Stevenson…and for something entirely different check out Robert Service. His poem “Bessie’s Boil” may be a bit hard for them to understand at first, but if you explain the brogue they will HOWL with laughter. 🙂

K….