Tuesday, January 7, 2014


All over the United States teachers are dreading the January and February blues. Here’s an idea that will give you something to look forward to every Friday, while planting a love of poetry and a special memory in children’s hearts.

Write a note asking each family to send in a box of instant hot chocolate and an old coffee mug. Explain that you will end each week with the “Poetry Café” where children can listen to poetry, recite poems, and enjoy a mug of hot chocolate. This will be an engaging way to develop listening skills, oral language, and an appreciation of literature.

Build children’s interest in the “Poetry Café’ during the week by talking about how COOL it’s going to be. “Yummy hot chocolate and poems! I can’t wait!” Display poetry books and give children sticky notes so they can mark the ones they would like you to read. On Friday afternoon heat water in a coffee maker. (Your school cafeteria might have one you can borrow.) Demonstrate how to cut the top off the package of hot chocolate and carefully pour it in the cup. Fill the cups with hot water and tell the children to stir them slowly as they sing their ABC’s or ZYX's (the alphabet backwards). When everyone is ready, turn off the lights, and let the magic begin!

*Explain that if they like a poem they can snap their fingers. (Apparently, that’s what the the beat poets used to do.)

*Invite 5 students each week to memorize a poem and recite it to the class. Make a poster that says “Poetry Club” and let children sign their name when they memorize a poem.

Hint! If you teach in a low-income area you could probably find a Sunday school class, civic group, education sorority, or grant money to help purchase the mix and mugs.

P.S.  Brad McKinney wrote this comment yesterday about the poetry notebook:
" I have done this since I attended your workshop 5/6 years ago. It was one of the many things I took away. My students treat their journals like gold. Mother Goose (puppet) comes each Monday and introduces the poem/rhyme for the week. I then follow your suggested guide for daily use. As our culminating activity each week, the third graders come to our room and my kindergartners get to read their journals to their third grade reading buddy. They look forward to it all week long."
This is why I do what I do!!!!