Poetry has always held meaning in my life from participating in elocutions to sitting in class with my English teacher to bring out the figures of speech used and hence dig deeper into it’s meaning.
Poetry with Drama
Poetry really came to life when I introduced Get out of Bed to my drama class. It was a contemporary poem and one where the students had to understand the humour that it was in fact the principal who would not want to get out of bed to go to school. The students in groups turned the poem into mini skits with props and costumes .
My class X students found it hilarious when I started reading them The Porcupine a poem they had never heard. Poetry always added an element of humour to the classroom and they enjoyed teasing me about it later.
It became habitual for me to introduce a poem every now and then. The students would always be reluctant to learn and recite one but would soon find out it could be fun. Poetry also led to simple poetry writing worksheets I would find online and this would encourage the students to unleash the poetry wizards hidden inside. Bringing a poem to life though a performance would help the children take a liking to the poem and even learn some verses easily.
Among the poets I have loved bringing into class are Bruce Lansky, Shel Silverstein, Robert Pottle and Roald Dahl. Their collections had so many poems that related to school that encouraged children to learn their poetry.
I would love for you to see this lovely email shared by a student and the poet Robert Pottle. In it she writes to him so beautifully how she enjoyed learning I Brought my Grandma’s teeth to School and the poet’s sincere response to her. It really had made my day when she shared this exchange of emails to me one day. She and I bonded so much on poems that she gifted me a beautiful poetry book by Shel Silverstein one day. It was our little secret.
It is up to you how you use poetry in your classroom. For me it would be part of drama and another way of bringing a poem to life through acting or perfecting on skills like voice modulation, diction, clarity, and facial expressions and it always left an impact on the children.
For the love of poetry one student in an elocution I judged recited her entire poem through having hiccups with her poise in place, brilliant expressions clarity in voice maintained and letting us know that the show must go on.
Poetry can be a wonderful gift for children. Teaching poetry in a drama class can thus have several benefits, some of which include:
- Developing language skills: Poetry is a form of artistic expression that requires students to pay close attention to language, including its structure, rhythm, and meaning. This can help students improve their vocabulary, grammar, and overall language skills.
- Stimulating creativity: Poetry encourages students to think creatively and express themselves in new and exciting ways. This can help them develop their own unique voice as artists and performers.
- Enhancing emotional intelligence: Poetry often deals with complex emotions and themes, such as love, loss, and identity. By exploring these themes through poetry, students can develop a greater understanding of their own emotions and those of others.
- Improving performance skills: Reading and performing poetry can help students develop their vocal and physical performance skills, including their ability to use tone, gesture, and facial expression to convey meaning.
- Encouraging collaboration: Many forms of poetry, such as spoken word, are meant to be performed in groups. By working together to create and perform poetry, students can develop important collaboration and teamwork skills.
- Connecting with diverse cultures: Poetry is an art form that is valued in many different cultures around the world. By exposing students to a variety of poets and styles of poetry, teachers can help students develop a greater appreciation for the diversity of human expression.
To end with a poem from one of my favourite children’s poet.
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.