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How to Keep a Poetry Notebook
Compile your Favorite Poems into a Poetry Notebook
Notebooking is a simple learning technique by which students narrate what they've learned and form an organized portfolio of work. Any subject can be "notebooked," including poetry. Even though poetry may not be a daily topic of study in your homeschool, keeping a poetry notebook fosters an appreciation of poetry and establishes an easy way to review the poems you've studied and loved.
Poetry notebooks can contain copied poems, composed poems, illustrations for poems, analysis of poetry, and biographies of poets. And any age student can keep a poetry notebook -- from pre-K children up to high school students.
Poetry Notebooks for Pre-Writers and Beginning Writers
Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grades
At this age, poetry is merely rhyming play. Expose your children to Mother Goose rhymes, silly limericks, and traditional prayers. A child's natural love of rhythm and rhyme will naturally incline him to these lighthearted poems. Right now your goal is to establish a sense of rhythm and rhyme.
Photocopy or type and print poems that your child can cut out and paste into a notebook. Let the child illustrate the poem above or below the poem. Or you might find a two page spread for each poem a nice way to organize your poetry notebook. On the left, affix the poem, on the right, add an illustration. See Nellie Edge for some great photo examples of poetry pages from the lower elementary grades.
Ways for young students to interact with the poem:
1. highlight new vocabulary words
2. mark words with common spelling rules
3. highlight punctuation that is being studied
4. color code rhyming words
5. order the lines in the poem by arranging pieces of the poem
For introducing copywork without overwhelming a new writer, give him a copy of the poem with a few words omitted and have him add in just those few words. Or have him copy only the title and author of the poem.
In time, he can begin copying lines of the poem in manuscript. Happy Hearts Homeschooling Library has some free printable poetry copywork with manuscript lines which you can use for young elementary students.
A Metaphor About Poetry
Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes. ~Carl Sandburg
Poetry Notebooks for Intermediate Writers - Third Through Fifth Grades
Intermediate students need to be protected from the myth that "poetry is boring." Never let them think that by exposing them with poems they can comprehend and relate to. Humorous poems are always delightful and lay the foundation of a love of poetry. Choose serious poems about nature, animals, family, or daily life are easy for them to interpret.
At this stage, students can begin to use poems as copywork. Choose a short poem or break up a longer poem over the course of two or more days.Use lined paper in three ring binders or use composition notebooks. You may also want to use preprinted notebooking pages suitable for copying and illustrating poems. For example, the following three photos show a long poem "Twickham Tweer" that my then fourth grade daughter copied into her poetry notebook. She took several days to work on this, copying a stanza each day and illustrating it with her own style of cartoons.
By the way, the notebooking pages shown here come from Notebookingpages.com's Basic Lined Notebooking Set. It is a resource I turn to again and again because of its versatility.
If you need some free options, try the all-purpose printables from The Notebooking Fairy.
You certainly can still use photocopies or printed poems in the poetry notebook as well, but slowly transition to doing more and more copying of the poems.
Choose a frequency for adding to poetry notebooks. It could be a weekly assignment or a monthly one or something in between. Sticking to a routine will build up your poetry notebook over time into something that is enjoyable to read.
Begin to introduce the most basic poetic terms without over analyzing the poems you read. For example, in the poetry notebook, a child can highlight similes, metaphors, personification, alliteration, and consonance.
In the intermediate grades, a child may become interested in composing his own poems. Of course, you want to encourage such creativity! I wouldn't force children to write their own poems unless you are giving them very clear frameworks such as diamante or cinquin poem forms.
Here are more poetry notebooking pages from intermediate grades.
The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury
Edited by the Children's Poet Laureate, Jack Prelutsky, the 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury is jam packed with hundreds of poems, classic and modern, all suitable for children.
Poetry Notebooks for Middle School and High School Students - Sixth Through Twelfth Grades
By the middle school years, your children should be able to point out the various poetic elements in poetry and the forms of poetry. How to Read a Poem is a great PDF with helps for thinking about a poem and a glossary of poetic terms to be sure to cover.
We have a reference minibook to help my daughter remember the basics of figurative language. It stays on the homeschool table alongside the pens and pencils for easy reference when needed.
In the high school years, a child should go beyond identification into analysis by writing about poetry and the figurative language used to compose it.
Here are two excellent resources that guide your child into writing about poetry at this advanced level:
(You may have to register with this site to access the files. It's free.)
Studies of poets are another way to enrich a poetry notebook. Include basic biographical sketches of the poets you study. Instead of a pell mell selection of poems, try focusing on one poet per term. The Poetry for Young People Series (linked below) is a great resource for this kind of study since each book gives several of the poet's best known poems.
Read practical examples of high school poetry lessons which incorporate notebooking at Harmony Art Mom's blog.
For poetry notebooks at this level, students can omit illustrations if they dislike art or they can make them more elaborate if they do like art. Some children may want to create fancy scrapbooking layouts or make multimedia collages like the page pictured below.
Poetry for Young People Series - Books for Poet Study
This poetry series includes themes such as animal poems, American poems, and seasons and poets such as Alfred Lord Tennyson Carl Sandburg, Edgar Allan Poe, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Emily Dickinson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow , Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Lewis Carroll, Robert Frost, Robert Browning, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, Wallace Stevens, Walt Whitman, William Blake, William Butler Yeats, William Carlos Williams, William Shakespeare, and William Wordsworth.
Read a brief endorsement of this series at Canadian Home Learning.
These colorful books make great spines for a term-long poetry study of a single poet.
Free Printables for Poetry Notebooks
- Bookmaking With Kids Jabberwocky Booklet
A free printable template for the poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll.
- Homeschool Creations Language Arts Printables
Beautiful, full-color printable poems from First Language Lessons years 1-4.
- Sonnets Notebooking Pages
Copy a sonnet on these free printable pages from The Notebooking Fairy. One page includes sonnet related vocabulary.
- Free Language Arts Notebooking Pages at Notebookingpage.com
Debra shares free lined paper for copywork.
What About You?
Do Your Children (Students) Keep Poetry Notebooks?
Free Poetry Books - Ebooks in the Public Domain
Many excellent poetry anthologies are in the public domain and can be downloaded for free. Using a Kindle or other ebook reader makes accessing these books for homeschool lessons very easy.
- Poems That Every Child Should Know
This classic was edited by Mary Elizabeth Burt, copyright 1906. The poems are old and include plenty of famous poets such as Browning, Whitman, Keats, and Coleridge.
- Golden Numbers: Poems for Children and Young People
By Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin, copyright 1902.
- Poems My Children Love Best of All
Edited by Clifton Johnson, copyright 1917.