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Reading Rockets News

April 2015 Newsletter

  • In Focus: Learning through poetry
  • Books & Authors: New booklist: Poems for All! | Booklist: Count, Think, and Play with Math | Video interviews with Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell | Talking poetry with Lee Bennett Hopkins
  • Ideas for Educators: Featured strategy: Descriptive writing | Featured strategy: Inference | Informational text and young children | STEM tookit: activities and resources for Environmental Education Week
  • Ideas for Parents: Family poetry jam | 5 week poetry reading challenge | Library scavenger hunt | Exploring nature with our reading adventure packs
  • Research & News: The gender gap in reading | What not to worry about in teaching young children to read | Can volunteers help kids read more proficiently? New research says yes | Cleveland school enhances silent reading program

In Focus: Learning through poetry

Learning through poetry: Classroom activities, writing prompts, poetry booklists, video interviews with your favorite children's poets and so much more. Browse our National Poetry Month resources.

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10 Ways to Use Poetry in Your Classroom

From activating prior knowledge to exploring language to capturing character, discover ten ways to integrate poetry into your language, reading, and writing lessons.
See ideas >

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See also:
Janet Wong's Poetry Suitcase >

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Poetry Walk

Jumpstart poetry writing in your class! Outdoor poetry walks give students a way to "write about what they know." Before heading outdoors, read aloud a few poems that are rich in descriptive language. Then, take your class on a walk around the neighborhood to observe and collect sensory images from their direct experience with nature. Students can bring a poetry journal with them to write down descriptive words as they observe, listen, smell, and touch things outside the classroom.
See article >

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Related resource:
Recording Observations: Journals and Field Notes (in English and Spanish) >

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Poetry Immersion Centers

From Scholastic, this center helps young kids get ready to write poetry, step-by-step:

  1. Become immersed in the genre of poetry
  2. Listen to the sound of poems being read aloud
  3. Visualize individual poems
  4. Notice and use beautiful language in poems
  5. Observe and apply line breaks in poetry
  6. Begin to write two specific types of poems

See activities >

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Books & Authors

New Booklist: Poems for All!

Nursery rhymes from around the globe, animal poems in English and Spanish, a brief history of poetry in 50 objects, lullabies, poems to keep in the "pocket of your mind" and more!
See poetry booklist >

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Find more books, ideas for writing poetry, apps, how to make a "poetree" and more >

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Count, Think, and Play with Math

Counting on the subway, math facts in action, geometry palooza, everything you ever wanted to know about triangles, and more in this lively collection of picture books all about math.
See booklist >

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See also:

Meet the "Poetry Friday" Superstars: Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell Video icon

In these new video interviews, Wong and Vardell talk about their collaboration on the popular Poetry Friday Anthology series for elementary and middle school students, ideas for using poetry across the curriculum (like the "Take Five" activity), scientists and poets, poetry and the Common Core, and much more. You'll also hear Wong read some of her own poems, including the powerful "Liberty" and "There Is a Place."

Janet Wong interview >

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Sylvia Vardell interview >

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Talking Poetry with Lee Bennett Hopkins

Prolific poet and anthologist Hopkins sat down with our children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, to talk about his newest book Lullaby and Kisses Sweet, how poetry can change lives, why he established a flight of poetry awards bearing his name — and a teaser about his upcoming anthology, Jumping Off Library Shelves, his loving tribute to librarians everywhere.
See blog post >

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Ideas for Educators

Featured Strategy: Descriptive Writing Video icon

The five senses graphic organizer, show-me sentences, image-based writing prompts, and mentor texts — see how these lessons can help your students learn to write with vivid vocabulary and detail. Watch a poetry writing workshop in action! You'll also find examples of descriptive writing lessons in science and social studies.
See strategy >

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Featured Strategy: Inference Video icon

Inference skills are used across the curriculum, including English language arts, science and social studies. Because inferring requires higher order thinking skills, it can be difficult for many students. Learn about the "It says, I say, and so" model and other effective ways to build this foundational skill.
See strategy >

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Informational Text and Young Children

Dinosaurs, rocket ships, and pirates ... oh my! Literacy expert Tim Shanahan talks about the value of reading nonfiction in preschool and kindergarten. Is it developmentally appropriate?
See blog post >

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Target the Problem
 
 

STEM Toolkit

National Environmental Education Week (April 19-25) inspires environmental learning and stewardship among K-12 students by connecting educators with quality classroom resources. Dig into this easy-to-use guide for activities on gardens, energy, geography, water, and climate.
Get toolkit >

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Related resource:
Literacy in the Sciences tips sheets (in English and Spanish) >

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Ideas for Parents

Family Poetry Jam

Exploring poetry out loud with your kids is a great way to have fun with language. Poems include humor, interesting words, tongue twisters and alliteration. Start with playful, rhyming poetry about topics that are familiar to your child like animals, food and bedtime. Once a poem is familiar to your child, take turns reading! (In English and Spanish, from our Growing Readers parent series).
See tips >

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Related resource:
5 Week Poetry Reading Challenge >
(from What Do We Do All Day?)

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Library Scavenger Hunt

Give your kids a reason to explore the children's section of your community library in a fun new way.
See activity >

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What's the Buzz?

Learn all about the amazing life and work of the industrious honeybee with this awesome set of family activities centered around paired fiction and nonfiction books. Design a pollinating robot, learn why we should "bee thankful" for all that goes into a fresh fruit smoothie, or publish your own Daily Bee newspaper.
See Bees adventure pack >

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More Nature Exploration with Our Reading Adventure Packs

In each themed pack you'll find recommendations for paired fiction and nonfiction books plus instructions for three easy-to-do hands-on activities. Lots of our packs are perfect for encouraging exploration of our natural world. Dig in:

See all reading adventure packs >

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Related resource:
Our Green World >
Picture books, hands-on activities and crafts, educational apps and great kids' websites.

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To make a garden all you need
Is just a single simple seed,
A patch of earth, a sheltered spot
That's not too cold, but not too hot,
A little rain, a lot of sun,
That's all you need;
And when you're done,
In some strange way your seed will know
Just how to sprout and how to grow

— An excerpt from To Make a Garden, a poem by Mary Ann Hoberman

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