Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Ways to enjoy poetry and rhyme with young children

My little ones, aged 3 1/2 and 5, and I enjoy sharing poems and rhyme. 

 This is a list of things we have appreciated and a few other ideas from around the web. I've not tried to make a differentiation between poetry and rhyme although I realise that they are not the same.

  • Singing nursery rhymes. There are lots of books and most libraries have CDs of nursery rhymes-useful for when I had forgotten or not known the tune.
  • Make up rhymes using a nursery rhyme as a base. We've sung This is the way we brush our teeth to         the Mulberry bush tune, Three big whales went swimming one day to the tune of Five little ducks went swimming one day and Pitter, patter compost while emptying the potato sacks. The latter was the invention of one of the children.
  • There are so many rhyming picture story books. The Hairy McClary series, Amazing Machines by Ant Parker and The snail and the whale and The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson are some of the top choices here.
  • Illustrated poems or poetry books. I've enjoyed some of these as much as the children. Stopping by woods on a snowy evening by Robert Frost and illustrated by Susan Jeffers was a success as was the seasonal collection by Shirley Hughes, Out and about through the year. We are on our second copy of this. Paul Revere's ride by Longfellow, illustrated by Ted Rand didn't work so well; perhaps a difficult concept for English children! We have an illustrated copy of Hiawatha but haven't used it with the younger children, as yet. 
  • Rhyming words-this seems to be very child dependent. Mr Exuberance loves long lists of words that rhyme and likes to say these with an adult. His slightly older sister finds this less of an absorbing pursuit.
  • Poems at bedtime. We use a child friendly anthology and let the children choose poems. We end up reading the same poems most evenings but what does that matter?
  • A poetry picnic was such fun. We ate and then read a favourite anthology.  The children chose the poems and I read until they wanted to stop about six poems later.
  • Poetry tea is an idea from Julie, at Creekside Learning.  We hope to try this in the autumn.
  •  Poetry notebooks is from the South African site, Se7en. Again, something for the autumn and with little ones would probably need to involve copywork or a poem dictated to Mum.
  • Recital. This was one of the best things that we did at the Home Education group, last year. It was a chance of the children to work on memorisation, speak in front of others and dress up.

Which poetry works best for younger children?
  • strong rhyme
  • repetition
  • humour
The children's current choices are
  • What is pink? Christina Rossetti
  • Cats Eleanor Farjeon
  • A dragon in the classroom Charles Thomson
  • The race to get to sleep Brian Patten
  • Brian's picnic Judith Nicholls
  • On the ning nang nong Spike Milligan
  • Rat it up Adrain Mitchell
Which poems do your children enjoy? How do you use poetry with little ones?

This is linked to It works for me Wednesday.


  1. Thanks for sharing these wonderful resources for poetry for kids.

  2. Nile Stanley puts rhyme to music, and kids love it.

  3. Sounds interesting. I looked for some samples on the website but couldn't find any. Are there any samples around?

  4. These are some good poetry suggestions. Thanks again for linking up to The Children's Bookshelf.

  5. A poetry picnic sounds like a lovely idea.

  6. What a great list of ideas! Thank you so much for linking up to The Children's Bookshelf!