Saturday, July 22, 2006

Poetry and props

Another fun way to make poetry come alive for children is to share poems with props. When we have an object to show or share that corresponds with the poem, it can make the poem more concrete for kids. They can see it, touch it, and experience a piece of the poem more directly. Plus, it just heightens interest and adds a bit of variety. A TWU student shares this example of how it might work.

“My son Jeff had the idea this spring to yank a rubber snake out of his back pocket when he got to the last verse of Judith Viorst's ‘Mother Doesn't Want a Dog’ during his school's Spring Poetry Extravaganza:

Mother doesn't want a dog.
She's making a mistake.
Because, more than a dog, I think
She will not want this snake!

Needless to say, it brought down the house, because somehow, speaking and hearing the words gave him and his classmates a sense of ownership of the poem, which of course made him more confident when he said it.”

Having the snake gave Jeff a “comfort object” that helped him feel more confident speaking in front of a group. It also added interest and surprise and gave his audience a memorable moment.

Poet Janet Wong uses a similar approach with her “poetry suitcase.” She has gathered an assortment of objects and realia that connect with some of her poems (e.g., a toy turtle, a play telephone). She asks children to choose an object, and then shares the poem that “corresponds” with that object and explains the connection. She encourages children to do the same—choose favorite poems, find related objects, and use them as props when sharing the poem. For kids who are still kinesthetic learners, sharing props means “touching” the poem!

1 comment:

Miz' Cindy said...

Dr. Vardell,

I could not agree more! I have a bag of props that I always carry along when I am going to share poetry with children - young ones actualize concrete experiences so much better than abstract. I now have several boxes of materials that I can pull from whenever props can help to enhance the experience. Have a great summer - I love the new blog!

Cindy B. Macon