*Poet's Pantry Field Trip


By Cara Bafile

Poetry is full of figurative language, open to interpretation, and awash with unusual use of punctuation, word constructions, and hidden meanings. Is it any wonder that students are sometimes confused by it, particularly those who struggle with simpler reading assignments? By focusing on children’s poetry that is less complex, this module attempts to spark interest in poetry and build student confidence in deciphering it. The student tour introduces students in grades 3-6 to different types of poetry and a few well-known poets and their work in a fun and enjoyable way—via the Internet!

Poetry, with its beautiful sound and imaginative nature, is at the same time both intriguing and perplexing to students. It is essential for young children to experience some poetry while they are in elementary school so that they will become comfortable with its format and interpretation. Students who are not afforded such an opportunity can be frustrated by this type of expression, not only in understanding published poetry but also in writing their own work.

The student tour begins with an exploration of various forms of poetry including limerick, cinquain, haiku, acrostic, and others. After students have formed an understanding of the common types of poetry, they will enjoy some original poems by Internet children’s poets and verses from other well-known poets. As they read, they will be asked to consider questions about the poetry and poets such as What is the subject of this poem?, What type of poem is this?, What is the message of the poem?, How does accompanying artwork enhance the presentation of a poem?, and How does the poet feel about the subject of the poem?.

In order to make the tour as enjoyable as possible for students, many of the poems selected incorporate humor. Also, a section on nursery rhymes serves as an example of the simplest poems and builds students’ confidence in their ability to read and comprehend poetry.

To broaden the scope of this tour, teachers may choose to have students write their own poetry and publish it in the classroom or on the Internet. Suggestions for ways to expand the learning experience into other subject areas are included in the Teacher's Resources.

From our early years when we recite "Ring Around the Rosie," our adolescent years when we attempt to express newfound feelings of love through poetry, and then to later years when poems such as Robert Frost’s "The Road Not Taken" seems to speak directly to our hearts—poetry is a part of our lives. How else can so few words be joined together with such incredible meaning? Poetry even serves a role in music, and it has a well-established place in language arts education. Time spent on poetry is doubly effective: it improves our perception of language and our sense of understanding. Poetry has the power to change our way of thinking, and it is because of this complexity and importance that we must begin to study it early in life.

When elementary students tackle simple rhymes and funny verses initially, their fear of poetry subsides. They form an understanding of its lighter side, making it much easier for them to grasp the more complicated themes that are later presented. When they have finished this tour, students will have met a few of the best writers of children’s poetry through their work. The experience is designed to help set a foundation of interest in poetry that will last a lifetime.


  • To introduce styles of poetry
  • To read and study poems by famous poets
  • To appreciate the beauty of poetry
  • To interpret poetry
  • To become comfortable with the poetic form
  • To enjoy humorous poetry



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