In honor of National Poetry Month (and Earthy April), we’re digging into some poems around here.
The search is on to discover new favorites, and while we’re at it, we’re examining a few great poems–up close. That means really digging for understanding by thinking about the author’s purpose and paying attention to the fancy figurative language that poetry is often known for.
In case it’s been a while since you’ve thought about the particulars of figurative language, here are the most common examples:
- Simile: A comparison using “like” or “as.” She is as slow as a turtle.
- Metaphor: A comparison between two unlike things. She is a turtle.
- Imagery: A detailed description that involves the senses. The icy wind chilled him to the bone.
- Alliteration:Repetition of the same initial sound in a series of words. She sells seashells by the seashore.
- Personification: Assigning human traits to something that isn’t a human. The sky is crying.
- Onomatopoeia: Words that show sounds. Snap, crackle, pop.
- Hyperbole: Dramatic overexaggeration. I’m starving. I could eat everything in the refrigerator.
To be honest, I don’t usually get as excited about poetry as I do about other reading and writing. It’s not that I don’t appreciate poetry. I just don’t seek it out very often to read to my kids. (Or to myself.) That’s why I like National Poetry Month. It’s a once a year reminder to take a little break from our usual reading and check out some interesting poetry.
Some classic poems my sons like to read year after year are: Casey at the Bat, Wynken Blynken and Nod and The Shadow. Of course, Shel Silverstein’s funny poems are always a hit, especially Runny Babbit and Sick. And Kenn Nesbitt is great too. Funny poems are #1 around here.
This month though, the goals are to discover some new favorites and to try to get my kids to think more deeply about what the author is really saying. We’re going on a scavenger hunt to see what we can dig up! We’re checking out these great recommendations from What Do We Do All Day and The Pleasantest Thing for inspiration. If you want to dig with us, you can download my free Digging Poetry printable. Since we’re doing this at home for fun, I’m challenging my older boys, (8 and 10), to do the scavenger hunt portion, then rather than filling in the second page, we’ll keep things casual and just use it as a discussion guide. (In the classroom, it would make a great April literacy center.)
Oh, and if you get really inspired and want to do some poetry writing this month, I like these tips from Writer Unboxed about reading and writing poetry with kids.