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Poetry Props

Rhythm, rhyme, and lively imagery create a rollicking good time for young children putting on a poetry show!

  • Grade 1
    Grade 2
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Using just the text (no illustrations), share a variety of poems with the class that have strong imagery and lively rhythms and rhymes. Which ones do the students find most appealing and why? Reread one of their favorites while they listen with eyes closed. Ask them to describe the things they "see". Encourage them to provide details. Talk about how poets use imagery to help us see things more vividly.
    2. What is a rhyme? Can students pick out words that rhyme in a poem they like? Do the rhymes help them remember the poem? What about the flow of the poem? Can they tap out its rhythm on their desks?
    3. Divide the class into several small groups and allow each group to select a poem for a special project. Invite them to reread the poem and make a list of the images they "see". Ask each student in the group to select one of the images to illustrate.
    4. Suggest to students that they lightly sketch an outline of the image on white paper. Then show them how to add color using a crayon resist technique. First, color in small details with Crayola® Crayons. Then use Crayola Watercolors to paint over the whole image with whatever color is the predominate one. A brown dog, for example, might have black eyes and nose and some white markings. These are the details that should be colored with crayon. Then, when covering the whole image with brown paint, the places colored with wax crayon will resist the paint.
    5. When the paintings are dry, students may wish to cut out the images and mount them on contrasting colored construction paper. Students who have created images of furry creatures might tear them out rather than cut them out. Rough edges look more fur like.
    6. If the image represents something that moves a lot such as a spider that "wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her," a few simple lines on the construction paper can communicate that action.
    7. Give each student a flat craft stick and show them how to tape it to the back of the image so it can be held up for all to see.
    8. Provide each group with a rehearsal space somewhere in the room and have them move to those areas. Then suggest that they read their poems again and arrange themselves in the order in which the images appear in the poem. Can they recite the poem from memory now, using the visual images as cues? Ask them to give it a try holding up each image as its turn comes in the poem. Encourage students to practice until they have a great "show" ready.
    9. Ask everyone to take a seat in the audience. Is a successful performance determined only by the performers, or does the audience play a role as well? Discuss what audience members can do to enhance a program. Remind them to be appreciative and encouraging.
    10. Finally, invite each group up to perform. Enjoy the show!
    11. Afterwards, ask the students to share their thoughts about the project. What was hard? What was easy? What was fun? If they had another chance to perform, is there something they would do differently?
  • Standards

    LA: Describe how words and phrases (e.g., regular beats, alliteration, rhymes, repeated lines) supply rhythm and meaning in a story, poem, or song.

    LA: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

    LA: Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

    VA: Engage collaboratively in exploration and imaginative play with materials.

    VA: Make art or design with various materials and tools to explore personal interests, questions, and curiosity.

    VA: Analyze how art exhibited inside and outside of schools (such as in museums, galleries, virtual spaces, and other venues) contributes to communities.

    VA: Identify uses of art within one’s personal environment.

  • Adaptations

    Video tape student productions and provide an opportunity for each group to view their performance. Then invite students to write brief personal responses reflecting on their own presentations. What might they do to improve?

    If students enjoyed this activity, give them an opportunity to perform again, this time for students in a younger class, or for their parents. Have them discuss how their performances change with each presentation.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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