I just left a first grade class that is studying poetry. The students were filling in their poetry journal. A big heart was on each page and a line beneath it. Each page was devoted to a topic “close to their heart” that they wanted to write a poem about. They named that topic and drew a picture in the heart. Then they wrote words around the heart that came to mind on that subject—for the ocean, hot sandy beach, sun, fish swimming and bathing suit. This is a fun activity to do with your child beginning in preschool. You will be the scribe, writing down your child’s words and thoughts and they can illustrate the page, or an older child can do this independently.

Poetry is a great venue for building vocabulary, which enhances language development. As I work with children in elementary school, I find that so many of their language arts activities—writing, reading and speaking—involve encouraging rich descriptive words. Children have to stop and listen, observe, smell, and describe their environment with words.

Of course, not all poetry rhymes, but beginning baby board books are already preparing your child to listen for similar sounds at the end of words and hear beautiful descriptions for later use.

Some favorite poetry books for children are Talking Like the Rain A Read-to-me Book of Poems and Here’s a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry by Yolen, Peters and Dunbar. Expose your child early to the beauty of poetry and model creating fun poems as you go about your daily activities with your child.