Poetry might sound a bit scary, but you will already have introduced your child to poetry. The nursery rhymes and lullabies you sing, or listen to, to calm your child or play games with them, and even the music they hear on the radio in the car have all been introducing your child to poetry from the very start of their life.
Introducing more poetry will build on those starting points. Research shows the strong link between baby’s and children’s experiences of hearing and joining in with rhymes and poetry, and its positive impact on their communication and writing skills.
Ideas for introducing and exploring poetry
- Choose a poem that matches your child’s interests, the seasons, the weather, or links to a special occasion or place you plan to visit.
- Read the poem several days in a row to enable your child to become familiar with it. Then use it as inspiration for play and activities.
How to bring poetry to life
For example, Rain Sizes by John Ciardi is a poem about the rain. This poem needs to be explored during a rainy week.
Once your child is familiar with it, you could:
- Talk together about how the poem, and how actual rain makes you feel.
- Listen to the sounds different ‘sizes of rain’ make when you’re inside your home and talk about how it looks.
- Go outside and enjoy being in the rain – talk about how it feels and how it sounds when you’re under an umbrella, under a hood or under nothing! (explore the puddles too, and let your child know it’s okay if they get wet, as you’ll only be out for a short time and can dry off when you get home).
- Maybe invite friends or family to join you on a rainy walk.
- See if you can make your own rain sounds – you could use musical instruments if you have some, but it’s more fun to experiment with materials you have at home. For example, a crinkly packet, bottle of water, pencil to tap etc.
- You could experiment with water at bath time; try pouring and dripping from different containers, sponges, and flannels to see if you can make different ‘sizes of rain’.
- While you’re doing all these activities you will be building the bond with your child as you have fun, learn, and play together. The language you use to talk about what you are doing will support your child’s vocabulary to grow.
About Rain Sizes
Rain Sizes is taken from I am the Seed that Grew the Tree: A Nature Poem for every day of the year.
Selected by Fiona Walters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (published by Nosy Crow Ltd for The National Trust)