By Kelli Drummer-Avendano
We’re introduced to poetry as soon as we’re born, through cooing lullabies and catchy nursery rhymes. As teachers, we have the opportunity to continue this appreciation for the lyrically written word by making poetry a regular part of the classroom. This is especially important when teaching and learning in a bilingual setting. There are numerous benefits to using poetry in the language classroom. Here are some of the most important ones:
- It’s a useful source of authentic input.
- Culture comes already embedded.
- Grammar is presented in context.
- Poetry has plenty of auditory repetition.
- Activities can be multimodal.
Now that you know why it’s a good idea to incorporate poetry into your lesson plans, you might be wondering how you’ll do this. A great source of children’s poetry that offers a wide variety of genres and themes is the Rimas y poemas K–2 Library. Adding this five-book series to your classroom library will open up opportunities for you to reap all the benefits poetry brings.
For example, you can immerse your classroom in the rich oral tradition of Latin America with Yolanda Reyes’s book El libro que canta. After sharing some of the poems and lullabies found in this book, ask students to compare and contrast them with some from their own families. When reading El blues de los gatos, have students create their own short poems with the rhythm of the blues, based on the book’s adoring portrayals of Barcelonian stray cats.
To get kids excited about poetry, put on new music from singer-songwriter Ricardo Williams to accompany his book Monstruos and let them act out the crazy, lovable monsters he describes. Another book filled with amusing rhymes is Cuáles animals by author-illustrator Juan Gedovius. You can use the short riddles as engaging comprehension activities, then ask students to invent their own short verses to share with the class.
Poetry can be fun and silly, but it can also help young students understand complex emotions. Georgina Lazaro’s Paseando junto a ella does just that. Ask students to draw their feelings as you share with them the tender, sensitive verses about the special relationship between grandchildren and grandparents.
As you can see, with this rhyming library you can encourage students to appreciate one of the oldest forms of human expression while inspiring them to try their hand at writing some of their own.