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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Plugging into Poetry

Three of my favorite years of school were spent at a small Christian school in my home town. My teacher presided over a handful of kids in several grades. One of my sharpest memories from those years in upper elementary school is of my teacher, standing before the cluster of desks, a folder in his hand, leading us in the recitation of poems.

I remember "The Charge of the Light Brigade," "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," "Little Orphant Annie," "To a Skylark," and "O Captain, My Captain" most of all. I can only recite snatches of these poems any more, but I can still hear, like yesterday, the voice of my teacher calling out,

Gustave Dore's illustration of the mariner (Wikipedia)
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
(excerpt from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner")


An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,--
You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,
An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you
(From "Little Orphant Annie", by James Whitcomb Riley)

I've always intended to emphasize poetry in our home school, but when we are a bit behind schedule for the day the poetry reading seems to be something I usually skip. I needed a better plan.

Last week I saw on another homeschooling blog that a mom made a memory work CD for her kids, ripping on her computer the tracks she needed for the week. Taking that idea, I did a similar thing using our iPod. Instead of creating a CD, I created a playlist for the iPod (which plugs into our stereo). Although there are some excellent poetry recordings available (Andrew Pudewa's poetry program, Developing Linguistic Patterns Through Poetry Memorization, comes to mind, not to mention audio tracks available on iTunes), this wasn't in my budget.

I found a free software program called Audacity and soon transformed my laptop and living room into a recording studio. The kids and I recorded several poems, a memory verse, and some math counting (by 2s and 10s). After a week of that playlist, the kids can recite large portions, if not all, of several poems.

We started with (a few selections are excerpts):
The Tale of Custard the Dragon (Ogden Nash) (Link to illustrated book at
Little Orphant Annie (James Whitcomb Riley)
To a Skylark (Percy Bysshe Shelley)
Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore (William Brighty Rands)
All Things Bright and Beautiful (Cecil Frances Alexander)
There was an old person whose habits (Edward Lear)
My Gift (Christina Rossetti)

As we have our lunch or snack we often listen to the poetry playlist. I'm amazed how quickly they are picking up the poems.

Our favorite book of poetry is Favorite Poems Old and New, edited by Helen Ferris Tibbits.

Do you make your own recordings of Scripture, poetry, or songs? What poems are your family's favorite?


twyska said...

Great idea for poetry. I've made recordings of the kid's verses for Awana when they've gotten to the workbooks. They seem to learn them even if it's on in the background.

I never thought of letting the kids make the recordings either--they'd love it.

Angela said...

This is a great idea- THanks for sharing- I am going to do this. I want to do more poetry but this has been my weak area! THanks for inspiring

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