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Bringing Beauty Into Your Homeschool Through Poetry

What is poetry but life condensed? This week, the Virtual Curriculum Fair’s topic is Seeking Beauty. And, as Edgar Allen Poe said, “Poetry is the rhythmic creation of beauty in words.

teaching poetry

It’s like a juice machine, squeezing out the essence of an idea, an emotion, an experience and then ejecting the pulp. In this condensed form, every word is significant.

In this form, literary devices become more obvious and more meaningful. And easier to teach.

I have taught two semesters of poetry in a co-op setting now. That’s two semesters of children, not yet able to read, who can discuss and create examples of such literary devices as allliteration, onomatopoeia, metaphor and imagery.. But we never open a textbook. We never fill out a worksheet. Because the trick to teaching poetry to children is to keep it playful.

So for onomatopoeia (always the favorite), I might introduce a poem like The Bells, by Edgar Allan Poe.

Hear the sledges with the bells –
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells –
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

For added effect, you could even ring a small jingle bell along with every example (in bold) of onomatopoeia. Then I have the children come up with their own examples. Sometimes they need a little help to get started (suggesting an animal noise or two starts a flood of ideas) and then we begin research for our own sound poem. At home, we go outside. At co-op, we just go out in the hall. We then sit quietly, eyes shut, concentrating on all the sounds we hear.

After we are back to our seats, we talk about the sounds we heard and come up with our own “sound words” for our “sound poem.” Each child adds their sound word to the poem and I usually come up with some concluding line to tie it together.

And the continued practice to retain these new concepts is not a worksheet or a drill, but the continued reading of great books. Because literary devices are all around us, in poetry, in song and in prose. Whether it is the “jingle” of Jingle Bells or the “click, clack” of the typewriter in Click Clack, Moo, oppotunities to notice them and what they add to a text abound.

Interested in more lessons? I am working on typing up my lessons and should be done sometime next week. If you would like to be notified when they are finished, subscribe to my blog (via the opt in form in my sidebar or in the header). You can also choose to only receive special offers and not the blog updates (only in my sidebar).

Now I invite you to visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about seeking beauty in their homeschools:

Links will all be live by Monday at 12 noon EST.

Living & Loving Art by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Putting the Fun in School by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays

Art Fun In Our Homeschool by Amanda @Hopkins Homeschool

Fine Arts Is The Fun Part by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

Washing Dust Off Our Souls by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

Bringing Beauty Into Your Homeschool Through Poetry by Dana @ Roscommon Acres

Seeking out the beauty… by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Joy in Home Education by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Teaching Drawing (When You Can’t Draw) by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home

Homeschool Art for the Artistically Challenged by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Jesus, Peace, Freedom & Our Homeshool by Meghan W @ Quiet In The Chaos

Fine Arts Options in High School by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Reluctant Artist? What do you do? by Annette @ A Net in Time

Making Fine Arts a Priority by Lisa @ McClanahan 7

Creative Pursuits by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

Arts and Crafts in Our Homeschool by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

Where Do You Find Beauty? by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

Looping our Beauty Topics Saved our Homeschool by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

 

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I am a mommyblogger, or Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Preparing for the Nebraska Writer’s Guild Spring Conference, I took out my purse–an oversized, faux leather monstrosity purchased because absolutely everything fits in it–and began to pack. Out came the diapers, the diaper wipes, the extra outfit for the two year old, the extra pants for the baby. In went two pens, a notebook, directions and the piece I planned to read aloud. With a nagging sense that maybe a blog entry wasn’t appropriate for a public reading, being “only” a blog entry after all, I kissed the children and clicked out the door, conscious of each step in the unaccustomed heels.

A single word struck my thoughts: mommyblogger.

With articles like “Honey, Don’t Bother Mommy. I’m Too Busy Building My Brand” and “World of Sex, Lies and Mommy Blogs,” the curious world of the mommyblogger is again making news and again making waves. Hinting at a bit of irony in the “minivan crowd” discussing SEO and defining it as a $two-trillion market, the authors dismiss the validity of the efforts of thousands of moms–some of whom blog about being moms.

The spin isn’t new, nor the subtle criticism. While the term mommyblogger is a badge of honor to some, it ruffles the feathers of others.

It reminds me of A Room of One’s Own. The fight a century (and more) ago for women to be taken seriously as writers.

The indifference of the world which Keats and Flaubert and other men of genius have found so hard to bear was in her case not indifference but hostility. The world did not say to her as it said to them, Write if you choose; it makes no difference to me. The world said with a guffaw, Write? What’s the good of your writing?

In 1713, Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea writes of her craft,

My lines decried, and my employment thought
An useless folly, or presumptuous fault:
She was careful that her occupation should not be suspected by servants, or visitors, or any persons beyond her own family party.  She wrote upon small sheets of paper which could easily be put away, or covered with a piece of blotting paper.  There was, between the front door and the offices, a swing door which creaked when it was opened; but she objected to having this little inconvenience remedied, because it gave her notice when anyone was coming.
And in 2009, Joanne Bamberger writes in Don’t call me a ‘mommyblogger,’
Some may be curious about my pique because sometimes being a mom blogger is a brand, one that can be used to one’s benefit. But when others try to flip the title to describe us as writers and, yes, sometimes activists, it ends up as shorthand for someone who is less deserving of respect or influence. It makes our opinions much easier to ignore.

{Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?}

Who’s afraid of a woman. . .a wife. . .a mother. . .who has found her voice?

After I finished my reading, I returned to my seat and my oversized bag. With hands still trembling, I slipped my papers back in and caught sight of my baby’s shirt, neatly folded in the bottom. I stroked the soft cotton, thought of his soft skin, could almost hear his soft coo. It focused me on why I attended this conference and why I write.

I am a mommyblogger.

Even if it is accomplished in fits and starts, between all the tasks of motherhood and household management.

I am a mommyblogger.

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The Science Mouse, a free e-zine for children, is posted!

This month’s edition of my daughter’s e-zine, The Science Mouse, is posted, and her entry on the caecilians has to be my absolute favorite.  Not that it is particularly well-written.  OK, to be honest, it is rather poorly written, so I suppose some explanation may be in order.

We have been talking about the effective use of quotes in writing and I have been showing her different examples of how people use quotes.  Sometimes it is to respond to someone else’s thoughts, and sometimes it is to use their words to express your own thoughts.  Sometimes it lends additional credibility if the source is a reliable expert in the area being written about.

Now I just barely introduced this concept and haven’t gotten much past that.  She, however, has been listening. . .and decided to apply her newfound knowledge.  She scoured the internet looking for references to caecilians and posted an entry that included five quotes from five sources in just five paragraphs.

If one quote is good for your writing, five must be five times as good, right?

It is as exciting for me as watching the first few faltering steps of an infant striving to become a toddler.

If you would like to discover more about amphibians, all of the articles for this issue are linked in the lead entry, Welcome to the world of amphibians.  You can also download the e-zine as a pdf from her site.  And if your child is interested in writing for The Science Mouse, next month’s theme is on Canines, Wild and Domestic.  Query through her contact form and she’ll let you know if she can use your article!