How do you teach poetry?

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  • Mum In Zion

    I am wondering how to teach my dc (ages 12 & 10) to write poetry.  We have not done a formal writing program that covers poetry.  We just read poetry aloud 3 times a week.  

    How do you transition from just reading poetry to writing poetry?  I do not know all the styles/types of poems, poetry terminology… to be able to teach the kids without some help.

    I was reading that sometimes a written narration can be a poem, but I couldn’t see where Charlotte actually taught about writing poetry.

    Any help in this area would be much appreciated.

    Blessings, Michelle


    There are some helpful suggestions at http://www.charlottemasonhelp.com2009/07/poetry.html.

    We’ve also used a Rod and Staff resource for teaching about poetry.  My older children wrote a small amount of poetry during IEW studies, too.  So far, I don’t have voracious poets like Lindafay, so I’d suggest following her lead.  I do know there are some on this forum that do NOT like her Grammar of Poetry recommendation, but she does have poets living in her house, so….



    I’ve been looking at this…I wish it had a sample though.  Has anyone used it?


    I plan to use”The Roar on the Other Side” for grades 7-12, at some point. I haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t have much to say about it.




    I have that HollyS!  It’s okay, it uses 4 poems spread over 4 weeks and has several things to look at and even try out for each poem.  It is not comprehensive in poetry styles by any means though. 


    I like the Write Source handbooks as a writer’s reference. Some of the handbooks are: Write Source 2000, Writers Inc, and Write on Track.  We have a few on varying levels (elementary, high school, and college) picked up cheap/used. Amazon and Ebay both have them used.  These are great for when you want to look up something.  We will flip through the poetry section, choose a form to try, and go for it.  I grab a different one depending on which child is asking to do ‘real poetry’.  Or if a child is wanting to know more about a punctuation item it’s in there.  Or a writing format (which I don’t really teach unless they ask or they hit late middle school/early high school).  You don’t really need several levels if you want to read the information and then share it with your children, but if you want to hand over the book it helps to have one near your child’s age group so it’s written with examples for that audience in mind. 


    Mum In Zion

    Thank you ladies.  I knew I could count on you to give me some resource ideas 🙂

    I was looking at Queen’s Language lessons for the Elementary Child 1&2.  According to the description they have a strong focus on poetry – poetry appreciation as well as learning how to write it.

    Has anyone used these books?  I was wondering if these would be enough to give gentle poetry and grammar instruction.  Or would it be better to use separate Poetry and Grammar resources, such as Grammar of Poetry and Our Mother Tongue (for example)?

    Just thinking out loud 🙂 


    I’ve used the Queens books at the level younger than that.  We won’t be continuing with them, after 2 years of use.  I wrote a post about my thoughts on them


    I love poetry.  I write myself.  (No, I won’t post any, they are locked in a drawer a la Emily Dickinson and no one has ever seen most of it.)  I’ve tried and read multiple, multiple poetry resources, both for myself and my kids.  My kids grew to tolerate me constantly reading poetry at them, but no matter what I’ve tried, they have resisted writing any.  One thing about poetry–I myself write metered poetry.  BUT I’m not so sure that’s the place to start with a kid.  I really, really like The Roar on the Other Side.  It may just be one of my favorite books EVER.  No, after doing it my kids did not turn into Longfellow.  BUT they did begin to use better metaphors and their prose improved. TRotOS teaches how to see, how to notice, first, and then introduces form.  I really, really like that approach.  I would automatically resist anything called “The Grammar of Poetry.”  It was well-intentioned, but (yes, I’ve read through it) it doesn’t matter how cleverly you can manipulate rhymes and form if you have nothing to say.  IMO a book on poetry should SOUND like a book on poetry.  OK, maybe it’s a little detail, but you get a lot about the approach from the title.  Now, you all know I am very pro-grammar <vbg> but grammar and poetry are only tangentially related.  Don’t approach it as a technical thing!  It’s magic conjuring with words.  IF your child reacts well to The Roar on the Other Side and you get farther and want more, skip the books intended for homeschoolers and go on to what poets would use.  My favorite out of my big stack is All The Fun’s In How You Say a Thing by Timothy Steele.  

    Good luck!  I hope other kids out there respond to this.  Charlotte’s kids sure seemed to have done a fairly good job.  But all I got was execrable verse under extreme duress, so I gave in and contented myself with slightly improved general writing.  LOL


    I have been having good success with my dd using a very gentle and fun self designed course following a little book called How to Write, Recite, and Delight in all kinds of Poetry. It was just something I picked up from a used book sale at my library for a few cents but is turning out to be quite perfect for dd! I am planning on using it for my other kids at the right ages, too.



    I pick a poet and we read a poem or two of that poet’s works everyday for a term or so. We don’t psychoanalyze any of it or try to determine symbolism or anything. We just read it and enjoy it. Occasionally, I’ll have each child choose a poem to memorize and then recite at the dinner table or something. 


    Thanks for all the suggestions! My amazon wish list grows daily from this board!

    The only poetry my kids have successfully written was haiku. Very simple to learn and try.

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