Archive for the ‘Tuesday Teatimes’ Category

The Value of Poetry

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

RecitingPoetry_TammyWahl

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Value of Poetry

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

William Carlos Williams

As we celebrate National Poetry Month, I just finished teaching Brave Writer’s annual “Playing with Poetry Workshop.” And once again, I recognized the intrinsic value of reading, teaching, and learning to write poetry to and with our kids.

So why should we study poetry in our homeschools?

Poetry teaches us the beauty and potential of the English language. The innovative use of language—of diction (word choice), metaphor and simile, other figures of speech, punctuation and capitalization—encourages our fledgling writers to take a chance with language. Our kids (and we parents alongside them) learn to play with words and language: transforming a noun into a verb, altering the “correct” use punctuation to create a fresh result, comparing two extremely different objects that seem to have no connection whatsoever, using alliteration (repeating initial consonant sounds in a line/sentence) for emphasis, employing a certain rhythm and cadence to our writing, and experimenting with new ways to entice readers through language.

Take a look at this apparently simplistic poem by e.e. cummings, one of the most innovative poets of the 20th century:

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,

and milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:

and may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.

This poem, which seems to be intended for children, has a lovely rhythm, containing rhyme in only the first and last couplets (a two-line stanza or “paragraph” in poetry), alliteration (the repeating “m-” sound at the beginning of words in the first line), simile (a “stone/as small as a world and as large as alone”), metaphor (“a stranded star/whose rays five languid fingers were”), personification (“a shell that sang/ so sweetly”), and a theme (message): “For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)/ it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”

In the wonderful book Painless Poetry by Mary Elizabeth, she sets forth some excellent ideas for learning to enjoy poetry:

1. LOOK AT THE POEM
Notice the overall way the poem fills (or doesn’t fill) the page. It doesn’t look like the usual prose paragraphs we read in textbooks or novels, does it? Lines of poetry don’t cover the entire page. Also, look for breaks between groups of lines. Poems are often written in collections of lines that are called STANZAS—kind of like paragraphs of poetry. Stanzas consist of short, long, or different lengths of lines, most of which have at least several words. Each poem looks different, depending on the number and length of lines and stanzas; each poem is a unique creation, and being aware of each poem’s appearance is important in appreciating it.

2. EVERY WORD COUNTS
The precise meaning of a poem depends on the precise meaning of the words in the poem. The more familiar readers of poems are with words in a poem, the easier understanding and analyzing poetry can be. We need to keep our eyes and ears open and resist skipping words or phrases that we don’t understand in a poem; instead, we should always research unfamiliar words in dictionaries or online. If we don’t thoroughly understand each word and phrase in a poem, we may miss an important clue to the overall tone (mood/emotion) or meaning of a poem. Poetry is all about the details!

3. READ POEMS ALOUD – ALWAYS!
Poems are meant to be read aloud even if we are studying poetry by ourselves. Poetry is more than just the meaning of words: sound is central to understanding poetry. Listen for repeated sounds, words, and phrases (circle or underline them)—repetition is always a key to the poem’s meaning or tone. Also consider how the sound of the poem adds to the meaning or tone of the poem. Take note of rhyming words and other sound effects that may emphasize certain words and/or phrases. Again, sound effects often provide clues to the meaning and tone of poems.

4. THE WHOLE ENCHILADA!
The relationship between sound and meaning may not always be obvious, but possible relationships between sound and meaning may lead us to a deeper understanding of a poem. Consider images or memories that may be triggered by a poem and decide if they are important to understanding the poem. Always read a poem at least three times, if not more. We need to give ourselves the chance to pay attention to all of the elements of a poem each time we read it, and remember to read it ALOUD—always! Jot down any ideas about meaning or tone, any questions, anything at all in the margins of the poem. If you happen to be squeamish about writings in books, then make a copy of the page the poem is on and write on that copy.

Copywork is very important in understanding poetry, and it’s not only for our younger students. Even now as an adult, I still copy poems that grab my attention into my journal or commonplace book. Somehow, the poems become so much clearer to me as I linger over what flows from the nib of my pen: word by word, phrase by phrase, line by line, stanza by stanza. Writing poems out by hand slows us down, allowing us to think more deeply about an image or a metaphor; in addition, writing a poem in our own cursive penmanship helps us to make poem more ours—it gives us a feeling of kinship and/or ownership of the copied poem. It’s also lovely to have a journal full of the poems that speak specifically to each of us.

Composing different forms of poetry also reinforces our study of poets and their work. In the Playing with Poetry Workshop, we teach the basics of poetry analysis and structure and how to read and truly enjoy poetry. Then we experiment with composing free verse including autobiographical and “I Am From…” free verse poems; visual poetry including shape poems, concrete poems, and acrostics; cinquain and diamante poems; the Japanese poetry forms of haiku and tanka; conventional poetry, including couplets, tercets (and terza rima), quatrains, and limericks; and finally alternative poetry which encompassed fragmented poems, “After…” poems, kennings, and then various types of “found” poems including black-out poems, highlighted poems, and book spine poems, among others.

Some of the families from the Playing with Poetry Workshop reinforce the value of studying and writing poetry:

Jeena writes,
“We see poetry everywhere now and you have opened our eyes to many poetic forms. Poetry is now a topic I feel comfortable discussing, I used to shy away from it. Josh has widened his writing range. Most of all I want to thank you for a writing class that didn’t seem like a writing class. Josh, my usually reluctant writer, wrote fast and enthusiastically and never once complained. That really is a miracle for us! He felt encouraged, understood and positively challenged.”

Linda shares,
“When I began this class I thought about poetry as something classical that I should have read or known about already but didn’t, as something silly and childish that rhymed, as something esoteric and mysterious. But now that I’ve taken this class I have fortunately had my eyes opened to new and amazing poetic possibilities. First of all anyone can write poetry, about anything. It just takes a willingness to play with sounds and words and ideas. Learning about free verse has been the most marvelous concept I have come across in a long time. I am so glad we began the course this way. I understand now why children find it so hard to write a poem (i.e., one that rhymes). All the effort goes into finding some unconvincing rhyme while all the lovely naturally spoken phrases and words that come unbidden out of a child’s mouth disappear unused into the ether. I also appreciate the fact that sometimes there isn’t anything to “get” about the poem. I can enjoy it as a delight of words instead of thinking I’ve missed some deeper meaning.

“By working every day with poems and poetry my children definitely had a jump start in their understanding of elements and artistry. We talk the poetry lingo more intelligently now, flipping off phrases like, ‘Oh yes this stanza has an abab rhyming scheme’ and other perspicacious verbalisms. Seriously though, we are noticing things like alliteration, personification, similes, etc., etc., and thinking about persona more readily in poetry we read as well as recognizing it in our own poetry (where it still mostly happens by happy accident). We have had good discussions about appealing to senses other than the overused one of sight. We are beginning to be able to express why we might like this poem but not that one. There is still so much to learn, but at least we are unfolding in the right direction.”

So how can we celebrate National Poetry Month?

The Academy of American Poets hosts all sorts of poetry fun at their site. Here’s their page devoted to National Poetry Month. And they even have a National Poetry Month FAQ, so check it out!

It was through Poets.org that I first started reading the Poem-a-Day e-mails. A free service, recipients receive contemporary poems, usually unpublished and written within the last year on weekdays while weekends are reserved for classic poems in the public domain, a.k.a. “old friends.”

You may sign up for this amazing gift of starting your day with poetry here: Poem-A-Day. And it was recently revealed that the American Academy of Poets “…signed a deal with King Features to syndicate Poem-a-Day. This means that the new, previously unpublished poems we are publishing during the week will be available to editors at a wide range of newspapers, news websites, and magazines…. It’s been a generation since new poems have been available to daily news readers.”

In addition, Poets.org started the annual celebration of Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day in which we are encouraged to tuck a favorite poem (written by us or by a favorite poet) into our pocket and share it with at least one other person during the course of our day. Which day? Thursday, April 24 is the official Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day, so prepare!! More information can be obtained on the page Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day.

Also in celebration of National Poetry Month, students may write poems in response to poems written by professional poets: 2014 Poet to Poet Project. Very cool!!

So whether you take a trip to the library and check out some poetry books to peruse together during Poetry Teatimes, or look up some poetry forms and try to write them together as a family (involve dads, too—they can write some awesome poems!), or share a Poem from Your Pocket on April 24, find a way to make poetry part of your week—even part of your day—in your homeschooling life.

“You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring some of it with you.” ~Joseph Joubert

~Susanne Barrett, Brave Writer Senior Instructor (MA Poetry and British Literature)

Photo Credit: Tammy Wahl Photography

Tuesday Teatime: Frilly dresses

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Tuesday Teatime Becky

For our first teatime the girls got all dressed up. Frilly dresses, necklaces and rings. I didn’t expect them to do this but it was cute. They also invited along a few of their stuffed friends. In the beginning I selected some books of children’s poetry but now they look for books of poetry themselves.

A few weeks ago when we had snow for three days. After playing outside in the snow we changed Tea Time Tuesday to Hot Chocolate Wednesday. The girls loved it.

We do not have Teatime every week but when we do we all seem to enjoy it and learn something in a relaxed and delicious environment.

~Becky

You can enjoy more photos of Becky’s teatime on her blog, Stain Stick Required.

Image (cc)

Want to start your own Poetry Teatime? Here’s how.

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line)! If we select your photo to post then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang of your choice! Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

For Email Marketing you can trust

First poem!

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Hogwarts Poem_NataliePoetry Teatimes can lead to wonderful, unexpected results!

The following features the acrostic poem (when a word is spelled vertically then words or phrases that start with the same letters are added) of Brave Writer student, Natalie, who is a huge Harry Potter fan!

Hi Julie,

Our second tea time evolved into a poetry freewrite! We had watched a short BrainPop Jr. Video on poetry and this format obviously struck a chord with Natalie.

She proudly read it to me:

 

Howls echo from Lupin
Owls are coming
Grawp’s learning English
Waves coming from mermen
Amazing spells working
Ron’s daddy dies
Tests are done
Spells perfect.

Funny, just noticed she ended it with a single period. So glad she isn’t intimidated by writing a poem.

You’ve let me know more than anyone else that I’m doing the right thing. I’ve been reading through years of your blog entries and listening to your podcasts – your journey is filling me with the confidence I needed to keep us on our unknown path. I can’t wait to share more with you!

Cindy

Image (cc)

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line)! If we select your photo to post then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang of your choice (once per family). Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

For Email Marketing you can trust

Tuesday Teatime: The Aftermath

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Tuesday Teatime Elke

Hi Julie,

I have decided to send you a picture of the ‘aftermath’ of tea time Tuesday! We were in the midst of kitchen tiling and threw together an impromptu tea time, complete with a crepe flower centrepiece compliments of my 7 year old daughter. The tea was bubblegum kids fruit tea, the cookies – oatmeal raisin, the napkins – Bounty, the poetry – Walt Whitman, Robert Louis Stevenson and many more including my poetry journal from when I was a teenager. After the hot tea and warm cookies were enjoyed, pencils could be heard scratching away composing original poetry from everyone including my 13 year old son and also my husband. It was definitely our most ‘dressed down’ tea time Tuesday but a much needed and enjoyed break in a busy day!

Blessings on your day,
Elke

Image (cc)

Want to start your own Poetry Teatime? Here’s how.

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line)! If we select your photo to post then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang of your choice! Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

For Email Marketing you can trust

Tuesday Teatime: Peach Scones, Green Tea, and National Poetry Month!

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Tuesday Teatime Rebecca 1

Having a poetry tea party is our all-time favourite way to enjoy our tea in the afternoon. We bake together, set the table prettily and make some space for ourselves. We choose favourite poems to share, and we read poetry to each other while enjoying our tea and afternoon snack.

It’s a truly wonderful way to inspire your children to enjoy poetry – or to share poetry with friends that might otherwise remain unshared. In our modern world, we don’t often take the time to read to one another, to share our thoughts in a quiet and genteel way…

We have a deck at the front of our house, and during the summer, we put a carpet out there and screen ourselves off from the world with cloths or with a folding screen. It’s lovely and cool out there until the late afternoon when the sun comes round, and we spend most of our early day out there, studying and playing.

Before we decorate it, it’s really quite bleak and it just shows what you can do with a few cushions and some sarongs! It doesn’t take much to put up and take down for so much pleasure.

Here we are, at a summer poetry tea party sharing our poetry, peach scones and green tea. I can’t believe how much my children have grown since this picture!

At the time of this picture, my children were quite young (9 and 13). In the picture, I see I am reading TS Elliott’s book, Old Possum’s Book of Cats. It’s a lovely whimsical book of poems that was the basis for the hit musical, Cats, back in the 1980s.

We don’t always read poetry. Sometimes we read out loud the bedtime story book that just can’t wait!

Tuesday Teatime Rebecca 2

Of course, for a poetry tea party, you can choose any different cakes and pastries to share with tea. The emphasis is on the poetry rather than the food.

However, we love to make it special. There’s something intimate and very beautiful about making the space to read to one another whilst sharing different goodies for afternoon tea. It’s become a tradition – one that I hope my children will remember fondly.

~Rebecca

Read more about Rebecca’s teatime on her lovely All About Afternoon Tea Blog (where she shares yummy teatime recipes and more!).

April is also National Poetry Month! Poetry Teatime is a wonderful way to celebrate. And here are 30 more ways from Poets.org.

Image (cc)

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line)! If we select your photo to post then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang of your choice! Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

For Email Marketing you can trust

Tuesday Teatime: Four generations

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Tuesday Teatime Jennifer 2

My 89-year-old grandmother traveled from Minnesota to Washington to stay with my parents for the last month. Today she and my mom came over to teach Claire (6), Colin (4), and me how to make her famous caramel rolls. Four generations came together to teach/learn how to make these beauties. When we pulled them fresh from the oven, we brewed a pot of tea and shared them over poetry.

Great-grandma didn’t want to read any poetry, but she got a kick when one of the kids chose one she knew and she giggled at the silly poems my daughter read beautifully. The kids loved hearing their grandparents read some of their favorites too. Pops read “High Flight” and “The Owl and the Pussycat,” among others. We love our poetry tea times, but this one was extra special! Thank you for the inspiration!

Jennifer

Tuesday Teatime Jennifer

Image (cc)

Want to start your own Poetry Teatime? Here’s how.

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line)! If we select your photo to post then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang of your choice! Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

For Email Marketing you can trust

Tuesday Teatime: Papaya

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Tuesday Teatime KirstaWe had papaya at teatime this week to tie in with our current Arrow study of Inside Out and Back Again.

One of the things I appreciate most about our Brave Writer lifestyle is having a framework for our other studies. It is easy to call everyone to the table for teatime – they love the food and poetry reading and now that we’ve gathered here, extending the time a little longer with candles and copywork does not take a lot more effort.

Likewise, on Mondays. we have popcorn for lunch while watching our weekly movie. This helps us get rolling with our other work Monday mornings so that we’re finished those things by noon.

Having a daily highlight (movie, teatime, board game, nature hike) means I always have a good answer to the “What are we doing tomorrow?” question and creates momentum to keep going with our other tasks.

Thanks Julie for enriching not only our homeschool but our daily lives as we enjoy being together.

Krista and the kiddlings

Tuesday Teatime Krista 2

Images (cc)

Want to start your own Poetry Teatime? Here’s how.

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line)! If we select your photo to post then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang of your choice! Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

For Email Marketing you can trust

Tuesday Teatime: Lovely and chaotic

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Tuesday Teatime Christine and friend

My friend, Sarah, and I have Poetry Tea Time together with all of our boys (plus her one baby girl- not pictured). The kids are all really little (7, 6, 4, 4, 2, 1, 9 months). It can be so crazy sometimes but somehow we manage to get most of them sitting at the table all at once (by the time I took this picture the two year old had already finished his cookie and bolted).

The 7 year old reads a poem or recites The Swing or Time to Rise, my friend or I read or recite a poem, the 6 year old pretty much always recites How Doth, the four year olds and one and two year old gobble up their cookies and chug their vanilla cinnamon tea, and they are off with an explosion of little boy energy. Then my friend and I drink our (now cold) tea and chat. It’s lovely and chaotic.

Christine

Image (cc)

Want to start your own Poetry Teatime? Here’s how.

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line)! If we select your photo to post then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang of your choice! Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

For Email Marketing you can trust

Tuesday Teatime: Beethoven in the background

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Tuesday Teatime CathyThe first time I suggested poetry teatime Tuesday to my kids, ages 5 and 7, I was pretty sure I’d get the usual ‘knee-jerk no’ response. But, the allure of treats was enough to pull them in at least for a short get together. Even though I felt like they suffered the poetry just to get a cookie, they were excited to repeat the experience the next week. Now they love the whole process. My 5 year old son likes to choose the tablecloth, put it on, and carefully fold the napkins. If he’s feeling extra fancy, he will put on Beethoven in the background. My 7 year old daughter always makes the centerpiece, and sometimes even the snacks. They enjoy the ritual so much, if we miss it, we’ll just have poetry teatime Tuesday on Wednesday.

Our reading material isn’t strictly poetry. While I do include at least some poetry each week, often the kids bring other books to the table as well. I’ll keep on reading anything they want until the interest level starts to wane. Occasionally, I will ask them to listen to a poem that I love but they are not so interested in. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes not.

My favorite teatime was during a big snowstorm. Everything was kind of gray and moody. We had candlelight and deep ruby pomegranate seeds, and I miraculously got them interested in reading Poe’s ‘The Raven.’ They were shocked that a poem could be so dark and disturbing and they were hooked. Afterword, we ended up on YouTube and found a few different readings by Vincent Price and James Earl Jones and a great segment from The Simpsons where the raven’s “Nevermore” is spoken in a hysterical polly-wanna-cracker voice. We still use that silly ‘Nevermore’ as a random inside joke.

Poetry teatime is such a special time for our family. I wish we could make each of our ‘schooling’ experiences as delightful.

Cathy

Image (cc)

Want to start your own Poetry Teatime? Here’s how.

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line)! If we select your photo to post then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang of your choice! Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

For Email Marketing you can trust

Tuesday Teatime: A toast to warmer weather

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Tuesday Teatime Ann

Teatime today. We all toasted to warmer weather. My pantry is rather bare so we had just a couple of cookies each. And I didn’t really like the book of poems that I’d gotten at the library. But we still enjoyed the time together and my daughter asked me for a few French words for the English words in a poem she wanted to read. I do enjoy this ritual.

~Ann

Image (cc)

Want to start your own Poetry Teatime? Here’s how.

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line)! If we select your photo to post then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang of your choice! Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

For Email Marketing you can trust