CKLA Teacher Spotlight: Sharing the Art of Poetry with Kindergarteners

By Sarah Hough, CKLA Kindergarten Teacher

Swimming in the swimming pool
is where I like to 'B'
wearing underwater goggles
so that I can ‘C’

— Excerpt from “Swimming Ool”- Kenn Nesbitt

With National Poetry Month underway, my Kindergarten class was ecstatic to revisit our CKLA Listening and Learning Domain 1: Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales to remind us what poetry is… human language as an art form.

This was the first unit the children were exposed to and it is a good reminder of how far we have come as readers. We have been reciting Roses are Red, Little Jack Horner, Hickory Dickory Dock, Jack Be Nimble, and other classics. They loved making an acrostic poem of their name describing themselves.

As a teacher, I love poetry because, late in the school year, we teachers can provide the students a refresher in rhyming words, characters, dialogues, personification, metaphors, retelling, and according to the CKLA Teacher Guide, a list of 33 benefits (objectives)!

My students most enjoy poems that are short, funny, and rhyming. We also learned that special poets are given a prize called the Poet Laureate. Recent children’s poetry winners are: Jacqueline Woodson, Jack Prelutsky, J. Patrick Lewis, Mary Ann Hoberman, and Kenn Nesbitt. The Poetry Foundation states, “Children have a natural receptivity to poetry and are its most appreciative audience, especially when poems are written specifically for them.

In my experience, two standout poets that are pleasing to children are Kenn Nesbitt and Shel Silverstein. As a child, I recited the poem “Sick” for an audience and to this day, still remember it!

To give the gift of poetry to the students, we will launch our inquiry, into an author study on Mr. Silverstein. We plan to examine his poems from the books Where the Sidewalk Ends, Falling Up, and A Light in the Attic.

I have short lesson plans to introduce different styles of poetry such as shape poetry (A Giraffe and a Half, Circle Road), partial poems (Overdues), rhyming poetry (I Don’t Know), visual poetry (Lazy Jane), list poetry (A Closet Full of Shoes), rebus poetry (Deaf Donald), and non- rhyming poetry (Tell Me). Our culminating activity is a Shelebrate Shel Silverstein open mic/Readers’ Theater. We will act out and read the poem Sick, What’s in the Sack, Invitation, and more. Students will come up with props, make invitations, and we will enjoy refreshments! As a schoolwide effort, a “poetree” has been hung outside the Media Center where students can add their favorite poems. It is my hope that this celebration will be one the children remember for a long time to come and hold close to their hearts.

Poetry resources for young readers:

Poetry Foundation- Children’s Poet Laureate
Shel Silverstein
Kenn Nesbitt


18222162_10154694178398507_8351702040888604292_nSarah Hough is a Kindergarten Amplify CKLA teacher at Diamond View Elementary School in Greenacres, Florida. Sarah is a doctoral student in Educational Leadership with a focus on Early Literacy and a CKLA Education Ambassador, a group of CKLA educators who share best practices on teaching early literacy.

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