Centers in my classroom are so important. They allow my students to complete meaningful work while I can meet with small groups and tailor
my teaching to meet their individual needs. Over the years I have tweaked and changed my centers to make them the (mostly) well-oiled machine I know and love today. One of my absolute favorites is Poetry Center because of all the benefits it has for students.
To be fair, I am talking about a daily poetry time as well in order for poetry center to run smoothly. What’s wonderful about this time is that it takes anywhere from 5 (literally just 5) to 10 minutes each day. Here’s what it can do for you!
Each week (following my 5 day center rotation cycle, NOT Monday-Friday) we learn a new
poem. The poems often relate to the science or social studies concept we are currently focused on, or a recent holiday. We start each poetry time, but singing or reading the poem. Students are learning about expression, using punctuation (in some poems), and just recognizing words more quickly. I display each poem on the Smart Board, but I used to use sentence strips (back in the old days). I point to the words in the beginning. Later in the year, the students will help.
In kindergarten (and most primary grades) sight words are a huge focus. I wanted poems that highlighted the words I wanted students to learn. I had a bit of a collection and then I started creating my own when I needed a poem about a certain topic. Each poem has a new sight word to focus on and others to review. One day out of the week, I call up students to find a couple sight words. This is so simple to do on Smart Board!
Here is where poetry center comes into play. When a new center rotation begins, students add the poem they have just practiced for a whole week, to their poetry notebooks. I use composition notebooks for my students to collect their poems all year. They glue in the poem I have prepared and circle the focus sight words after reading the poem!
Remember how I mentioned about the (literal) 5-10 minutes each day? Were some of you afraid that you didn’t have that time? What if I said you could cover phonics skills during this time as well? Although I have a designated phonics skills time on some days, I can easily build this in during my poetry time. I use the focus poem to teach and review almost all phonics skills. This week we found rhyming words, made up more words to rhyme, clapped syllables in each line, and found specific letters and sounds. Students need more then one shot to learn these skills and they are able to have a new place to practice them each week!
I took each of my poems and chose skills to focus on for the week to keep me focused. I have 2-3 skills for each poem and some backup ones if I have more time! See the image for a sample of the plans I made for each poem!
I know, I know. It’s not a whole story. Many of the poems I use are short and sweet so students can easily memorize them. However, we can often practice basic sequencing skills. We also focus on how the words and pictures match when students add their poems in their notebooks. They have to read the poem and then add an illustration. They show their understanding in their drawing. I love seeing the pictures they come up with! The poetry notebook if a great keepsake at the end of the year.
There has been a bigger push with the Common Core standards to help students build vocabulary. Our weekly poem is the PERFECT place to fit this in. This was another reason I decided to create my own poems. I created poems that connected to our themes and topics and built in important vocabulary when I could. If you use your own poems, choose a couple vocabulary words to focus on. One of the days each week I focus on building prior knowledge and defining vocabulary. We can practice explaining vocabulary clearly, using synonyms, and more.
Which leads to independence. The routine of the center is the same each week. I have a set location for materials that never changes. Students get their notebooks, poems, glue sticks, and crayons. They glue the poem in their notebook, read it, circle the sight words, and illustrate it! They can look back at previous poems anytime and often love re-reading their favorites.
I did take it one step further. My students would occasionally forget the poem and interrupt while I was working with groups. When I created my poems, I added a QR code to each one that would take them to a video of me singing or reciting the poem. QR codes are easy to add if you want to do your own!
Building your own set is possible if you add a poem at a time, you can have a year’s worth to use again and again. Looking for some ready to go tomorrow? Check out my monthly packs and bonus sets or grab the whole year below!