An interesting way to use poetry in the classroom (or at home) , would be to introduce one poem a day by Shel Silverstein. Where the Sidewalk Ends is a classic collection of poems that are fun, silly and intriguing for children. Slowly working through this book poem by poem, would be a great way to light the fire and get children interested in poetry. If there is not enough time to do a poem a day, perhaps a poem a week would be a good alternative.
A Breakdown of Using Shel Silverstein’s book Where the Sidewalk Ends:
Starting at the first poem in the book, “Invitation,” and moving through page by page will keep children connected and prepared for the poetry of Silverstein.
Poem One: “Invitation”
Here is a guide to using “Invitation” in the classroom: Using Shel Silverstein in the Classroom: “Invitation.”
Poem Two: “The Acrobats.”
By my ankles,
To your knees
As you hang
By your nose
From a high-up
But just one thing, please,
As we float through the breeze —
Ideas for using “The Acrobats” in the classroom:
Lesson # 1:
This poem is a great choice for discussing rhyming in poetry. Being that this would be the second poem introduced in Where the Sidewalk Ends, it would be important for children to learn how common it is to see rhyme in poetry.
A. Before introducing the poem, write 4 to 5 words on the chalkboard, then ask students to brainstorm rhyming words. For instance, if you write “cat,” students may list, “bat. fat, sat, etc.”
B. Next, discuss how it is common to see rhymes in poetry and see if they can come up with short rhymes as a group. For instance, “I have a cat. He is real fat.”
C. The next step would be to look at how a successful poet uses rhyming. Provide each student/child with a copy of “The Acrobats,” and a variety of colored highlighters. Then, ask them to find the rhyming words in the poem, and highlight each.
D. Discuss how Silvertsein stretches rhyming words. For instance, rhyming knees and trapeze may not be an exact rhyme, but it still flows nicely. See if the children/students can think of others words that are not exact rhymes but still sound good.
Lesson # 2:
Continue with the introduction to rhyming by using another activity where children can use their new knowledge and understanding on what poetry is.
A. It would be interesting for each student to create their own poem on a circus act (such as, clowns, elephants, the ring-master, etc.) and then form a class poetry book on the circus.
B. Make sure the children use rhyming in their poem, and get them brainstorming unexpected rhyming words.
C. Break the children into partners for peer review, and see if they can think of other rhyming choices.
These two ideas will help develop a child’s knowledge on poetry and help enforce using unexpected rhymes and silly stories to make their writing more interesting!
For more ideas on using Shel Silverstein in the classroom, check out this article: Using Shel Silverstein in the Classroom: “Invitation.”