**Reposted from my family / parenting blog A Year With Mom and Dad**
You already know that this month is National Poetry Month, and I'll be challenging all of us as parents to add a little more poetry to our family's lives!
Even if you hate poetry yourself, I can't underscore the importance of including poetry in your children's lives... rhythm, memorization skills, pattern-recognition - these are all important ways poetry can help a child learn.
It's never too early to introduce poetry to children... and don't limit yourself to just children's verse - kids often enjoy more advanced poetry selections as well if you read it in a lively and upbeat way!
For preschoolers, many books they read already have some kind of rhyme or poetic quality. So here's a fun Tot Exploration way to ramp up the poetry in your house using books and rhymes you probably already have around.
Fingerplays are simple motions and signs you can use along with reading to help toddlers engage with the text.
One of my son's favorites is Itsy Bitsy Spider:
The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout, (thumb and fingers “walk” up like spiders - actually my son likes to walk the spider up his arm as in the photo above!)
Down came the rain and washed the spider out, (fingers trickle down like rain.)
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain, (Move hands up over your head in a circle like the sun.)
And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again. (thumb fingers “walk” up again.)
In this simple song, you have rhyme, some repetition, and motions to help your child remember the meaning of the words.
Fingerplay is especially important when kids don't quite know what all the words you're saying mean. You could also do fingerplays with mini finger puppets or props to create more visual poetry for your child! Any time you find action words in poetry, act it out with your fingers or even your whole body.
MANY nursery rhymes and poems already have finger/hand motions that go along with them, but don't be afraid to make up your own as you read poems and rhymes to your children! It'll help them love the lyrics so much more!
Do you share poetry with your children? How do you keep them engaged with this genre?