Poems for kids are fun for both children and adults. Not only can we enjoy reading poems together with kids, but we can also spend a little time teaching them how to write their own. One of the more enjoyable things to do with kids is to work on different voices and tones when reading poems. It’s fun to make up character voices, practice volume control, and learning how to pronounce new words. The rhyming and rhythm make reading so much more fun than just long and tedious lines of prose. One of the first things you might think about when selecting poems to reach with kids is to find out what they are interested in. Most kids enjoy playing outdoor games and sports, so you might want to look for poems about football and soccer, swimming or playing tennis. Don’t forget the winter sports: skiing, skating, and sledding are wonderful activities to read poems about. Sport theme poems often have some very dramatic and exciting stories — and they don’t always have to be about competition. Sometimes the poems are about what’s going on aside from the game. Here’s an example.
The Love of the Game
by Mitchell Browder
Another thing to consider with poetry for children is to get them actively involved in the process. Begin with basic rhymes and get the children to think of which words to use the rhyme. By doing this, not only do you help them develop good word sense, but you also get some insight as to which things attract kids the most. Kids love to hear repetition, which is a wonderful way to create fun and enjoyable poetry for kids that has a personal touch. Poems are also excellent for use with children who are learning a language. If you have some children who are English language learners, they might respond well to the idea of using poetry to learn new vocabulary and word order. Begin with poems which are manageable. Be certain that the poems you select have simple language that is familiar. The images and themes must also be things they will readily recognize. Sometimes using repeated words, lines, and phrases will help — if they can predict how each line might end helps to reinforce the learning.
The Scroobious Pip
by Edward Lear
Many poems deal with observations about the world around us and the situations we find ourselves in. One activity you might consider it to take kids on a walk where they can observe some things around them. Encourage the children to go slow and try to look for those things that they might overlook if they go too fast. If the weather isn’t cooperative, consider doing some cutout poems. Just have the children cut random words out of newspapers or magazines. Once they have a few dozen words, have them try stringing them together to form stories in poem form. They don’t always need to rhyme, although learning how to use words and manipulate sentences is part of the benefit of writing poetry. Here is an example of a poem written this way — the image at the beginning of the article shows its more artistic form.