For Language and Literacy Developments

"Tip 133: October 2019 – Using Poetry with Young Children "
   November, 2019

Website Educational Tip for Language and Literacy Development

Poetry is an excellent way for young children to play with language and
develop literacy and language skills. Introducing predictable rhyming poems
helps to make them memorable. One of the motivations of using poetry is to
expand young children’s vocabulary which allows them to communicate with
others. Adults can provide young children with diverse poetry experiences
that can assist in language development.

Nursery Rhymes
– Caregivers should respond to babies cooing, babbling and other
vocalizations by mimicking their sounds. Infants learn about the sounds of
language through exposure to linguistic awareness of nursery rhymes and
rhythmic activities. Using my book “Teaching with Heart” will help promote
these activities.

Nonsense Rhymes
– Most nursery rhymes end with a rhyming word. Adults can encourage
toddlers to build rhyming skills by leaving off the last word of a phrase
for the toddler to add. Introduce poems to toddlers with open-ended
questions so they can engage in linguistic interactions using nonsense
rhymes. Toddlers can use a simple rhyme such as “Jack be nimble, Jack be
quick, Jack jumps over the candlestick” and change the action word ‘jump’
to another movement word. An example might be “Jane be nimble, Jane be
quick, Jane sends the ball flying with a kick” here the adults uses the
toddler’s name.

– This is a five line poem which expresses an idea that grows in the
preschooler’s mind.

Line 1 – one word giving the title or topic.

Line 2 – two words describing the title or topic.

Line 3 – three words expressing action. (usually ‘ing’ words)

Line 4 – four words expressing a feeling about the title or topic.

Line 5 – one word synonym (a word that means the same) as the title or

The following are a couple of examples:

Fluffy ball Frisking, wagging, jumping
Partner, and gentle pal
Cold, white
Falling, blowing, freezing
It covers the ground

Young children of all ages love the intimacy of reading with an adult,
either one-on-one or with a few other children. Adults should seek out
opportunities to read poems with young children daily. Since regular
reading at home by parents is a potent force in promoting young children’s
language and literacy, nightly reading can reap substantial long-term

I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree. (Joyce