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Published by: The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine on May 07, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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If You Can Sing It, You Can Write It!By Jennifer L. Padgett, M.Ed.
I love to read poetry! Trying to uncover the poet
s theme and discovering the different typesof figurative language used by the poet are just some of the reasons of why I enjoy thisgenre. To me, poetry is very much like an onion. Each reading of the poem requires thescholar to peel off another layer
only to discover more meaning and more questions tosolve. However, writing poetry can be intimidating, especially if comparing one
s writingskills to poets such as Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman. I have to wonder,How does one become our nation
s Poet Laureate? Each of these esteemed poets must havestarted somewhere; certainly, they explored different types of poetry such as haikus, a typeof Japanese poetry, or experimented with a variety of rhyme schemes: couplets, triplets,and quatrains?As parents, we want our children to value and gain insight from all genres of writing.Acquiring knowledge of both the history and culture found in poetry is another way toachieve a greater understanding of worldviews. I also believe students should personallyexperience the composition of poetry, which is the most simplified, condensed form of rhythmic, emotion-provoked writing. Now the final question is, How do we teach ourchildren that writing poetry can be fun?First, it is important to realize that writing poetry is developmental. Typically, most children,during their early elementary years, do not start off by writing poetry loaded with figurativelanguage and complex meaning. Children first need to be immersed in literature,particularly books that encourage rhyme, rhythm, and new vocabulary.Even though many question the true meaning behind nursery rhymes, these entertaininglittle po
ems are pleasing to every child’ 
s ear. Their easy rhymes and foot-stomping rhythmsmake reading time more enjoyable. Some of these have even been put to catchy tunes. Infact, after reading these poems to my own children for the last twelve years, I find myself putting my own music to these Mother Goose rhymes. It is not unusual for me to start anursery rhyme and stop in the middle, leaving one of my children to finish a line from thepoem. If the child ends up putting in a different rhyming word, that just allows him or her toexperiment more with the English language! We also do a lot of reading these poems aloudtogether, known as choral reading, which encourages children to hear how phrases arebeing said and definitely improves reading fluency.Reading the works of other poets, such as Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss, will also develop achild
s ear for rhythm and rhyme. For those of you who have a designated homeschoolingroom, consider putting up a word wall. Any time an unfamiliar word emerges from reading,write that word on an index card, discuss the meaning, and brainstorm examples to connectthis new word with your child
s vocabulary. Later, your children can use these words in theirown poetry constructions.
Example 1
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star Sprinkle, Sprinkle, Little Drops
By Jane Taylor By Jake and Jonah PadgettTwinkle, twinkle, little star, Sprinkle, sprinkle, little drops,How I wonder what you are. How I wonder when you
ll plop.
Up above the world so high, Up above the clouds so spry,Like a diamond in the sky. Like an island floating by.Twinkle, little star, Sprinkle, sprinkle, little drops,How I wonder what you are! How I wonder where you
ll plop!When the blazing sun is gone, When the sparkling moon doesshine,When there
s nothing he shines upon, And the raindrops dance and dine.Then you show your little light, Then you
ll show your sparklingglow,Twinkle, twinkle, through the night. To all the world, downbelow.Twinkle, twinkle, little star, Sprinkle, sprinkle, little drops,How I wonder what you are!
I can
t wait to hear you stop!One night, after dinner, while trying to write this article, I decided to see if my boys, aged 9and 12, would be able to take a simple song such as
 “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” 
and putnew words to it. This activity was hard for my 9-year-old, as I had suspected it would be;however, when we began to write the above poem together, it became a delightful familyactivity! I had my laptop opened to two pages: thesaurus.com and wikirhymer.com. Byorally writing this poem, my sons were able to see not only how a poem could be puttogether, but they were also able to hear me verbalize the writing process that wasoccurring inside my head as we constructed this poem. Later on, we tried this same processusing a Christmas song.
Example 2
 Jingle Bells Slipping Sleds
By James Pierpoint By the Padgett ChildrenDashing
the snow, Flying down the hillIn a one horse open sleigh, In a bright, red shiny sledO
er the hills we go, Atop the cliffs we climbLaughing all the way; Huffing all the timeBells on bobtails ring, Scarves on necks do flapMaking spirits bright, Making feelings warmOh what sport to ride and sing Oh what fun to slip
slideA sleighing song to night.
In a snow-white, winter storm.Several days later, my youngest daughter came home with a children
s book titled
The Itsy Bitsy Spider 
by Iza Trapani. Trapani took this childhood song and wrote six additional poetic

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