Introducing a love for poetry (to boys and other skeptics)

introducing a love for poetry (to boys and other skeptics)

I know that not everyone loves poetry the way I do. I totally understood why my college students weren’t as excited about our poetry unit in Creative Writing as I was. But that’s never stopped me from loving the challenge of introducing poetry to a skeptic and surprising them with the reality that they could love it, too. Now as a homeschool mom, I still love that challenge. I love introducing a love for poetry to my kids. And often, that love surprises them.

Especially if you have active learners, introducing a love for poetry can be tough. But here are a few ideas to give you a head-start in the right direction.

Introducing a love for poetry

Choose the best books.

I love Shel Silverstein’s books of poetry, especially for boys. If anyone can pull off a surprise love for poetry, Shel Silverstein can. My kids have literally laughed out loud through his books. Falling Up is such a favorite at our house that we now own it (because someone left the library book outside overnight and it got a little too damp to return).

But a new favorite of mine is the book Guyku, haiku for boys (or any kid who loves to play outdoors). Even my daughter with dyslexia couldn’t help but pick this one up.

introducing a love for poetry | haiku
Guyku by Bob Raczka and Peter H. Reynolds

Haiku is probably one of my favorite poetry forms, and these authors do a fantastic job writing kid-friendly haiku. Their website also includes some great teaching resources and free printables.

Create a memorable moment.

  1. Have a picnic, lay out on a blanket, hunt for cloud shapes, and read a couple of fun poems. (Just a couple, don’t over do it.)
  2. Use poetry to introduce something fun you are about to do. Read a poem about the beach and let them guess where you are going. Read haiku about nature and then go on a nature walk to find ideas for your own poem. 
  3. Have a poetry scavenger hunt and have them find poems about particular topics you’ve listed. (Choose a fun book and quirky topics.)

Whatever you do, let the poetry be a part of an already fun experience. The positive vibes from the event will spill over into the poetry part of that memory. Your goal is to have a fun, positive memory associated with poetry, rather than the memory of sitting at a desk discussing rhyming patterns.

Provide a fun snack.

Adding food never hurts, especially if you’ve got boys. Food is definitely part of that positive association. I can pull off just about anything with my kids if there is food involved. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Have one particular treat that only comes out during poetry time. Or surprise them with a favorite treat, and a new favorite poem.

I’ve read a lot of the blogs that do the “poetry teas” as a way of introducing a love for poetry to children. It’s a great idea, and when my kids were little, I could get by with that. But my soon-to-be sixth grade son is not keen on “tea parties.” These ideas still work for him, though. And with the right book, I can still surprise him with a love for poetry he didn’t know he had.

Our Homeschool Curriculum for kindergarten

homeschool curriculum for kindergarten | classical homeschool kindergarten

These young years are the best! I love all the hands-on games and manipulatives and dry-erase activities and stickers. My littlest is in kindergarten this year. Because there is so much available for free or for very cheap at this level (both online and at the local dollar store), I keep our homeschool curriculum for kindergarten pretty simple for the most part, with a few fun surprises sprinkled in. Phonics and math are our priority, while the other subjects he is enjoying simply because of the whole-family learning approach we take to those subjects.

Our Homeschool Curriculum for Kindergarten

History and Geography

As I’ve mentioned in my other curriculum posts for 4th grade and 6th grade, we use Tapestry of Grace as our core for history, Bible and worldview, literature and writing. I love using Tapestry for whole family learning, and my youngest is enjoying this opportunity because my older kids are using the curriculum. The fun thing about whole family learning is that my youngest is already used to being part of our routine. Last year, he listened to our read-alouds, completed his own notebooking crafts, and made his own display board. He was right in the middle of all of it, and he has no expectation that it should be any different. So this year as he enters kindergarten, the only difference will be that he is more aware of what we are studying and more capable of completing the projects on his own. And he’ll have his own portfolio to show off at our unit parties.

While my older kids use a lot of the projects from Homeschool-in-the-Woods and History Pockets, my kindergartener will be using more of the Story of the World activities from the pdf I purchased four years ago when my older kids were little. Oh, and he’ll have some cool Usborne sticker books that have the older kids envious.

homeschool curriculum for kindergarten | classical history

Littlest will also be tagging along in our Visualize World Geography curriculum, learning countries from around the world through stories and pictography. One thing I’ve learned over the years is to never underestimate my kids. As a preschooler, he learned his continents and could locate the pyramids and the Ishtar Gate on his Vtech globe we picked up from a thrift store. He fully intends to hang with the older ones during geography time this next year.

Phonics

I loved using Logic of English Foundations for my daughter. It was key in helping her work through her dyslexia challenges and learn to read. With my littlest, I knew right away I’d be using this curriculum again. I love it! Solid phonics—the best I’ve seen—and lots of fun kinesthetic activities to make learning to read busy, active, and fun. One of the greatest challenges of teaching busy young kiddos to read is having them sit still long enough to read the book or list of words. But Logic of English Foundations is very good at incorporating games throughout the curriculum that has my kids running the stairs to read a word, going on a “word hunt” around the house to find strips of paper to read, playing phonogram bingo, and tons of other engaging activities.

homeschool curriculum for kindergarten | Logic of English Foundations

homeschool curriculum for kindergarten | Logic of English Foundations

We started Foundations A toward the end of this last year, so we’ll be wrapping up Level A and completing Level B for kindergarten. While he is not reading yet, all of the tools and skills are in place. He understands sounds and blending. He’s just a step or two away from putting those skills together to read.

Math

My littlest loves math. He devours it. While I intended to take our time through preschool math, he took off. Consequently, he’s got a good head start on kindergarten math skills. I’ve chosen to start him with Math Mammoth 1. While it is technically first grade, it starts slowly enough that I think he will do just fine. Plus it will continue to challenge him throughout this next year. Otherwise, I’m afraid we’d be done with kindergarten math by November. Another perk is that I already own this curriculum as a pdf, so it costs me nothing right now to have both my fourth grader and my first grader working through this curriculum.

homeschool curriculum for kindergarten | math mammoth

As a bonus, I’ll also have some Star Wars Math on hand for him. Last year, he bought the Star Wars preschool math from Barnes and Noble with his own money, and worked the entire book in about a week. I’m telling you, this child consumes math!

Science

At this stage, I’m pretty laid back about science. My plan is to read fun science books together, either from our own personal library or from the public library, and then play science board games with his older sister. I picked up SomeBody game for our anatomy unit and Hit the Habitat Trail board game for our animal science unit.

homeschool curriculum for kindergarten | science board game | gameschooling

My little guy is raring to go. He simply cannot wait for kindergarten. And the more I organize his homeschool curriculum for kindergarten—and counting bears, cuisenaire rods, sticker books, and phonogram tiles—I can’t wait either.

You can check out the rest of our curriculum here:

Our Homeschool Curriculum for 4th Grade (dyslexia-style)

homeschool curriculum for 4th grade | homeschooling dyslexia

My daughter made huge strides last year, progressing about a grade level and a half in her language skills. Though her dyslexia struggles still have her about half a year behind, I’m very excited about her progress and expect to see her continue to improve this year. She also struggles with ADHD and some learning anxieties, which create some challenges for us both. She’s my Dory (from Finding Dory). Honestly, that little cartoon helped us to empathize better with some of her memory-issues and accompanying anxieties and helped her to feel normal about those struggles; she identified immediately with that sweet, cheerful little fish. She’s very smart, very creative, very right-brained, and I love her unique view of life and everything around her. With that said, choosing her homeschool curriculum for 4th grade took me a little more time and research; but I’m pleased with the final result, and she can’t wait to get started—which is a really good sign! Here are our choices for next fall.

Our Homeschool Curriculum for 6th Grade

homeschool curriculum for 6th grade | classical homeschooling | homeschooling ADHD

We’re delving into “middle school” this year for the first time. My oldest is so excited for this milestone. He’s my Flint Lockwood (from Cloudy and a Chance of Meatballs), my absent-minded, super-dramatic, techy science guy. So putting together his curriculum is always a lot of fun. For the most part, we are classical homeschoolers, making a few adjustments here and there for our rampant ADHD. To accommodate for personality and attention-span, we include lots of variety with short lessons. None of our subjects extend beyond 20-30 minutes at a time, but I serve up a variety each day to keep all his firing cylinders on task. In classical terms, he will be in the logic or dialectic stage this year, learning to think critically and make deeper connections with what he is learning in his homeschool curriculum for 6th grade. 

Tips for Shopping Homeschool Curriculum online

tips for shopping homeschool curriculum online

There is nothing that beats being able to hold a curriculum and flip through its pages when you are trying to decide what to buy, but that’s not always possible. Whether you simply can’t make it to a homeschool convention, or the curriculum you are interested in isn’t anywhere to be seen, shopping homeschool curriculum online can be done. Even though it’s not quite the same as seeing a book “in person,” you can still get a good idea of what a curriculum is like with a few simple tips.

Tips for Shopping Homeschool Curriculum online

What to include in your nature journal

nature journal | how to get started and what to include | nature study

We were a few years into nature study before I started keeping my own nature journal along with the kids. I’ve stumbled along and tried a few different methods of sketching and journaling, but I’ve finally found a groove that’s working for me. If you are stumped about what to include in your nature journal, here are a few ideas to get you started.

What to include in your nature journal

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Start with a heading. Include the date and place of your hike, maybe the time of day, the weather, and anything else that seems pertinent.

Make a list of things you spotted on your hike. For me, this is the best way to get past the “writer’s block” of nature journaling. Instead of staring at a beautiful blank page hoping I don’t ruin my nature journal with my lack of artistic talent, I start with listing all of the plants and creatures we identified on our walk, even if it’s just a few common birds and flowers, turtles on a log, frogs in a pond, dragonflies, etc.

nature journal | nature study | whole-family learning

Sketch and caption of a few of your favorite moments. As I’m making my list, I usually always have a few favorite memories from our hike. I sketch two or three of these favorites into my nature journal, and then journal a sentence or two about what we saw and what happened. I’m far from an artist, so these are much more about remembering than anything else, just a rough sketch. I’ve tried a few different tools, but I’ve found I love using watercolor pencils and a watercolor marker most of all for my sketching, and a Sharpie pen or Micron pen for the journaling itself.

Include a few new discoveries. Our routine is to take a few pictures of “mystery” plants or creatures and then to use Google Images to identify them. After we’ve figured out our new discoveries, we sketch these on a page in our journals, practicing observation skills as we sketch the details. I’m not super talented, but I don’t feel I have to be. We’re learning plenty with our rough sketches and fun memories.

So often in education, we make the process of learning and discovery much harder than it has to be. Nature journaling and nature study do not have to be complicated or intimidating. It’s really about discovery and wonder and shared memories.

If you’d like a little gentle direction for your nature study, check out these NaturExplorer studies (affiliate link). Each study gives you fun books to read, tons of nature walk ideas and activities, as well as printable pages to add to your nature journal.

Our Journey Westward

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