Guest Educator

The Power of Poetry

by Lisa Mazinas

This month’s Guest Educator, Lisa Mazinas, is a Delaware elementary-level teacher who devised Paving the Way with Poetry, a program for 3rd graders. MetroKids invites educators to contribute articles that offer insights to other teachers and parents about topics such as curriculum techniques, motivation, discipline or teacher-parent relations. Please send ideas to

Poetry Books

A Pizza the Size of the Sun by Jack Prelutsky (Greenwillow, $17.99)

Creatures of Earth, Sea and Sky: Animal Poems by Georgia Heard (Boyds Mills Press, $10.95)

Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems, by Eloise Greenfield (Re-bound by Sagebrush, $14.95)

• Lunch Money and Other Poems about School, by Carol Diggory Shields (Puffin, $6.99)

My Dog Ate My Homework, by Bruce Lansky (Meadowbrook, $15)
Education Books

Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Mid-dle School by Georgia Heard
(Heine-mann, $15)

Guiding Readers and Writers (Grades 3-6) by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell (Heinemann, $40)

Poetry Matters by Ralph Fletcher (HarperTrophy, $5.99)

One of the most effective yet often overlooked tools for increasing children’s reading and writing skills is poetry. Regular exposure to poetry can open a whole new world of literacy for children.

For many, especially struggling students, poetry’s short format feels safer and less threatening than longer texts. Kids think they are getting off easy by reading poems, yet they can learn just as much, if not more, from this genre. Their introduction to poetry often triggers new excitement for reading and writing.

For many adults, poetry conjures up painful memories of analyzing and dissecting long, difficult poems. The key to getting children excited is to use the opposite approach. Start by reading poems aloud to your children. Humorous ones often work well to pique their interest.

Don’t spend time analyzing the poems, just let kids relax and enjoy the experience. Before you know it, they will be asking to read poems aloud to you. Next, try some of the activities listed below at home or in the classroom. Once children are introduced to the culture of poetry, it is amazing what they can do!

From poetry, children can explore vocabulary, word choice, leads, main idea and much more. The acclaimed children’s poet and writer Georgia Heard believes that “poetry, like bread, is for everyone.” It helps children reach into their hearts to express their deepest feelings through words.

Poetry Activities
Read, Read, Read! Read poems to your children and make books accessible for further exploration.

List Poems. Choose a topic and list everything that comes to mind. For example, if the topic is summer, here is a list — and a poem:

Long days
Scorching sun
Relaxing with a good book
Sleeping late
Spending time with friends

I Wish. Each line begins with the phrase “I wish.”

Listening. Start a listening center at home or in the classroom for poetry books on CD.

Poetic Plays. Act out poems with special gestures for each line.

Poetry Gifts. Instead of buying Grandma a new pair of earrings, write a poem for her.
Illustrations. Choose favorite poems and illustrate them.

Ad Libs. Take a poem, cover up several of the words and guess the ones that are hidden.

Educator’s Edition, a bi-annual MetroKids publication, introduces teachers and group leaders to providers of field trips, enrichment programs and professional services. The Spring 2007 edition is now available. For a copy, call 215-291-5560, ext. 100 or request by e-mail at