Teachers, include serious and sad poems in your National Poetry Month celebration. Elementary students like feeling they are big enough to read grown-up poetry. Students know that life isn’t all sunshine and daisies, and they appreciate poems that address serious aspects of life.
Here are some poems I liked in elementary school and have found that my students enjoy:
If by Rudyard Kipling: The ultimate character education poem. I share this with every class!
In Flanders Field by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD
Grass by Carl Sandburg
Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes
Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe
There is no frigate like a book by Emily Dickinson
Sonnet 116 by Shakespeare (“Let me not to the marriage of true minds/Admit impediments…)
The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. This is a classic ballad with a strong storyline. Explain the story to your class, then read the poem with them. I used this poem when I taught fifth grade, but I don’t think I’d share it with third graders.
For a grand finish, play “The Highwayman” set to music and sung by Lorena McKennitt—it is haunting and beautiful and perfect for the text. I recommend that students be able to see a copy of the poem while they are listening. A YouTube version of the song is available (it’s a ten-minute long clip). You also can download the song at iTunes or buy the album, The Book of Secrets, through Amazon.com.
Next post: Poetry Workbooks.