"Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education." ~ Charlotte Mason

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Beloved Poetry Tea Time

This is a post about how absolutely amazing Poetry Tea Time is!

I was introduced to the concept by a friend's blog (Life on a Canadian Island - excellent blog) and found myself intrigued with the idea. We were struggling to do poetry.  My older two don't care for the genre but I thought it was important to include this time honoured art in order to round out our education.  Poetry Tea Time is rooted in the Brave Writer Program, she explains it here.  It is quite simply one of the most brilliant ways of doing poetry.  It's a cosy way of reading together out loud, creating a truly enjoyable environment against the back drop of baked goods, lovely plates, tea/hot chocolate/apple cider, while indulging in lovely prose!  This time has become a scared passage in an otherwise busy week.  The children look forward to it with great anticipation.  They talk about what baked good we'll cook up in the kitchen, the drink they will have and how they will dress the table. They participate in the preparation of Tea Time.  Not only are we reading but they are learning life skills such as baking, setting a table and serving.  My youngest daughter even made a candle out of beeswax to light while we read a loud.

I read a book a few weeks ago called More Charlotte Education in which she addresses how to approach poetry.  "Poetry can grow on you - if at first you don't care for it keep trying."  Catherine Levison says.  To be perfectly honest; it wasn't my favourite genre either.  It didn't help that at school we tore it apart line by line analysing it to death, rather then simply reading it for pure enjoyment.  So I set about making poetry fun for me as well!  Poetry is meant to be read a loud, it's meant to illicit thought, laughs, and it's even meant to be recited (think of Anne when she recited the Highway Man in Anne of Green Gables), all bringing the reader or listener to a place of reflection.

Levison made a couple more suggestions which I have found helpful.  One being, to read the poem but not the title.  After the poem is read, the kids try to guess the title.  They LOVE this exercise.  She also suggested that children bring their own poetry to the table.  You would be surprised how many read a louds contain a prose, limerick, hymn or song written in poetry style.  She also suggests for the children to practice reciting a short poem back.  This approach has also been good, as the children giggle and try to recall the lines. We have even gone around the table and each of us make up one line of poetry to make a whole poem.  I have also found it a worthwhile exercise to build on what type of poetry they like to hear.  My children love limericks, so we read a lot of those to get them going.  It's also good, Levison suggests, to expose them to poetry at a young age, just read it out loud to the very young child and you will see their eyes come alive with wonder.  There are tons of great books from Poems and Prayers for the Very Young, to The Real Mother Goose to The Llama who had No Pajama - all delightful books with wonderful illustrations.  Several others we have enjoyed: Favorite Poems of Childhood, A Child's Garden of Verses, Favorite Poems of Old and New, and EverydayGraces (contains lots of lovely poetry particularly as it applies to manners and living).  I've got my eye on these one: Poems to Learn by Heart  and Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost.

Levison suggests not to prepare all the readings before hand but to just pick out what strikes you. I love this loser format, I have found it incredibly refreshing.  We read from a variety of poetry books.  A lot of my poetry books have come from Sonlight Curriculum, which have been purchased with all the cores I have bought.  They are outstanding books.

My two older children will likely say they still don't care for poetry but in some ways they have been endeared to it without realising it.  They will often recite a line from a poem throughout the week. I don't draw attention to these moments but quietly smile to myself during them.  This is what poetry is meant to build - connection to the world around us.  It's what all good literature does.

I will also say that my connection to poetry and love for it has grown leaps and bounds as we have done Poetry Tea Time for the last two years.  I find myself drawn to it.  I recently received an old copy of Robert Brownings poems and have put Caroline Kennedy's She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems on my Christmas list  I enjoy reading them on my own and writing the ones that hold meaning for me in my Common Place Notebook.  I am so pleased with Poetry Tea Time, it has enriched our lives in so many ways!

I used some linen a beloved family member gave me.

The little candle in the middle my daughter made.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful post. I am so pleased I played a tiny part in your discovery of this wonderful routine! Miss you lots. xoxo


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