Poetry in Primary

Poetry is much more suited to primary than you might initially think (i.e. Mother Goose). The rhyming and alliteration found in many poems is great for building phonemic awareness, but interpretation? Theme? In Kindergarten?

Why not?


When gearing up for our 2 week poetry unit, I came across this text, Poetry Speaks to Children, which features a number of illustrated poems for children with a CD of readings by the poet. Between this and a bit of Shel Silverstein, I was ready to plan!

Reading Poetry

  • Show a poem on the smart board and invite students up to highlight rhyming words or repeated beginning letter sounds
  • Choral read
  • Memorize a poem – We did this with “Boa Constrictor” by Shel Silverstein. My kinders learned it in a snap and I would invite one students up at a time to act out the poem while we recited it. Bursting into giggles together… now that’s what I call learning.ImageWriting Poetry
  • Write poems together in a Shared Writing activity. This is a great way to tie writing into other genres, such as science or social studies. Students learn that any topic can be poem-worthy.
  • Create a few charts with common word endings and have a “Rhyme Time” gallery walk. Students can rotate between charts, adding rhyming words as they go.


  • Using a mentor poem, like “The Reason I Like Chocolate” by Nikki Giovanni (in Poetry Speaks), emphasize that poetry does not need to rhyme, but it does need to capture an emotion or feeling.


  • Include children’s sunglasses (lenses popped out) and fancy pens at your writing center, to help your students look at the world around them with a “poet’s eye”.
  • Place some sensory objects in your writing center as well, such as feathers or photos, to promote poetic thought.

I adore poetry and the freedom I feel when I read and write it, so it was rewarding to see my littles enjoying the rhymes, silliness, and snapshots of emotion in the words we studied. Do you have any ideas on incorporating poetry into primary classrooms?


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