Thursday, March 14, 2013

Poetry Curriculum

Even though I've decided to take poetry slowly for now, I eventually want to start an actual curriculum.  Right now I'm thinking the magic will begin next year, but I'm not exactly sure which (or which combination) we'll be doing just yet. 

I do have my favorites, the ones I think will work best for us now, but there are also others that look intriguing.  Either for later as my kids progress or some things I liked but don't think will work for us.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I gleaned all these wonderful sounding books and curriculum from an amazing program set up over at Pioneer Woman.  You can email questions into her Homeschooling section and get answers from homeschoolers (and non-homeschoolers) from all over.  It worked amazingly for me!

There are three books I KNOW I'm going to be purchasing for next year.  They aren't so much curriculum (at least not the detailed sort I generally buy), but more along the lines of reference material.  Each of them take you through a variety of different poetry with examples, pictures and instructions.

 A Child's Introduction to Poetry, by Michael Driscoll, even comes with a CD!  I'm pretty excited about it (betcha couldn't tell).  I'm thinking all of us will have fun listening to someone else for a change, plus it'll give us another take on the poetry (hearing how someone else reads it).

Fly With Poetry, by Avis Harley
A Kick in the Head, by Paul Janeczko
I know, I probably don't need each of these, but I like books, I like options, and I really like poetry.  Plus, I figure each book will have it's own way of describing the poems and perhaps one will resonate more with each of my kids than the others. 
This group includes some books that might be considered curriculum, but not in the lesson, take poetry apart way.  They're more like phase 1, pre-curriculum curriculum.  They are meant to be memorized (if there's such a thing as memorization curriculum, this is what they are).  They help to develop an appreciation, love, and understanding of poetry without actually talking about those things. 

The Harp and Laurel Wreath by Laura M. Berquist appeals to my classical bent.  I'm a big fan of The Well Trained Mind specifically and classical homeschooling in general.  I like the idea of having poetry already broken up into a four year historical cycle to go along with what we're already studying.  I also like that there are poems geared toward children at all levels (literally, 1st through 12th).

 Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization is put out by the Institute for Excellence in Writing.  I've heard good things about IEW, but haven't yet purchased or used anything from them.  I like the idea of simple exposure combined with filling my children's heads (not to mention mine) with beautiful words.  I like this more for my younger children, but as they're currently in the majority, I'm seriously considering this for next year.

Elementary - Middle School
This next group is filled with curriculum geared towards the elementary years (and sometimes as far as middle school).  I have only held one of these, which is one of the reasons why I'm hesitant to purchase one right away.  I'm not certain which will fit best with our schooling methods, although I like something about each of them.

Kids' Poems by Regie Routman comes in grades K through 4th (that I was able to find) and is the one I was able to check out from my local library to peruse.  I liked some of the ideas in it, I especially like how she talked about making sure to teach kids that poetry does not have to rhyme or follow special rules.  It teaches how to teach and introduce poetry with less pressure (it reminds me of the awesome book, Love That Dog we finished a couple weeks ago), but it is definitely geared towards a large classroom.  Good info (I'd suggest seeing if your library has it to look over and glean from), but not one I'm planning to purchase right now.

Read and Understand Poetry made by Evan-Moor is definitely more my speed.  It has well laid out lessons (from what I was able to see on Amazons cool Click to Look Inside tool) with worksheets and review.  I like a script, not that I always use it, but it makes me feel more confident, especially when I'm traipsing into new territory.  Sort of like back-up.  You know, just in case.  They also have a variety of grades/levels to choose from. 

For the Good of the Earth and Sun by Georgia Heard feels like the opposite of the structured approach I usually go for.  As I read through some excerpts, I kept thinking it was a book I would want to read and glean goodness from.  Lots of good teaching tips, lots about loving poetry and not restricting the enjoyment of the poems with unnecessary analyzing.  Love first, figure out why later.

Grammar of Poetry is another curriculum put out by the Institute for Excellence in Writing (this one is geared towards 6th through 9th graders).  I have a confession (okay, it's not really a confession, I've said it before), I don't really know a whole lot about poetry.  Nope.  Nada.  Okay, I think nada means nothing and that's an exaggeration.  I like this course a lot because it's well laid out (like I like) and the lessons are on DVD, so I can watch and learn right along with Makenna.  If you click the link above, you can read all about it (of course), but they also have samples of what's on the DVD's.   
Middle - High School
These next three I haven't looked at as much.  Only enough to say, hey, I like the look of that and off it went into my amazon wishlist to delve into more when my kids are older.  All I can really say is that the reviews are really good (both from Amazon and from the Pioneer Woman's awesome readers).  Check them out, maybe they'll work wonderfully for you!
The Roar on the Other Side, by Suzanne Rhodes.

How Does a Poem Mean?, by John Ciardi and Miller Williams.

Sound and Sense, by Laurence Perrine and Thomas R. Arp

I was completely overwhelmed with what felt like a total lack of knowledge when I first started thinking about what and how to teach my children poetry.  After some good advice and a little (okay, a lot) of research, I am so very EXCITED to not just teach my kids, but to learn with them!! 

I hope you've found something you can use and if I've left out your very favorite, leave me a comment so I can check it out!

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