I found a great book this past spring. Its a collection of short poems on subjects relating to outdoor play. Its called, A Stick is an Excellent Thing, by Marilyn Singer. A Stick Is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play
All the poems have some element of rhyme and rhythm. There are a few with an element of concrete poetry, where the placement of the words help to illustrate the poem, which my boys seemed to find interesting. I think its pretty great collection for young children as an introduction to poetry.
I started with my boys, asking them to explain what a story was. “A book” was the first answer. Heh. “What does a story have?” “A beginning, like a once upon a time,” said Circus Boy #1. (Woo hoo, the answer I was looking for! Quick mental party!) We decided that a story had a beginning, it had characters, it had a problem, a fix to the problem, and an ending. After reading some of the poems in A Stick is an Excellent Thing, we learned a poem was different. It was shorter, for one. It didn’t have to tell a story, but could tell about something. It could describe something. (I realize this is quite simplistic, but we are talking about a 2 year-old, a 3 year-old and a 5 year-old, with an infant present, here.)
So we described a few objects around the room. A toy cup was hard, blue, used for tea, and plastic. A cheerio is round, small, has a hole, and is crunchy (as long as the baby doesn’t get to them first, then they are soggy! Ha!). A pear is “kind of like a triangle,” green, sweet, and smooth. Glitter is red, twinkles, you sprinkle it, has round and flat flakes, you shake it, just a dash. These are all words they came up with.
Then we sat down and organized our glitter “describing words” into a poem. I helped some with this, and it helped that we came up with describing words that pretty much rhymed. As I was writing out our “final copy” Circus Boy #1 told me I should not write the words straight, I should “sprinkle the words.” I was so happy to hear him say that, evidence I hadn’t just been talking to myself!! Yay!! (Another, slightly longer mental party!)
It was all pretty fun. Except for when Circus Boy #3 grabbed finished pictures with wet glue, found a crayon somewhere and tried to color on the wet glue and glitter,or got a hold of the glitter bottle when he didn’t have help. I love messes. Not really. I didn’t take any picture of that. I was too busy getting glue out of his hair, and the baby’s hair, and glitter out of the carpet. Glitter sticks to everything. Maybe I’ll write a poem about that.