Monday, April 02, 2012

Rhymes, Poems and Things: Good for kids reading during National Poetry Month

The truth is my younger daughter, aka Persistence, prefers to be on the move and we joke she has two speeds: stop and go.

So getting her to sit and learn to read has been a challenge. We had to find subjects and books that would really engage her. Unlike me, neither of my kids are "read almost anything" simply for the pure pleasure of reading. They are more like their dad. That means I've had to reshape my image of a future wherein my girls and I happily share books the way I always have with friends and family. That also means a lot more backend work.

One thing both always loved was Dr. Seuss. Silly, and rhyming. Catchy. Entertaining, with a solid plot and purpose. They loved parsing the secret message. Poetry, FTW!

Still, anyone who knows me knows I am always on the hunt for things that engage my kids in language arts. When I got this press release in my inbox and I was so excited about it I put my kids on the computer immediately. The 7 year old was engrossed. I had to pry her off about two hours later. She loves Martha Speaks and Arthur, and they've been studying writing poems in class.

Persistence used the fun game "Martha's Rhyme Time" and loved seeing her poem performed by Martha. She got really caught up in that. She also liked Fern's poetry tool, which we had somehow missed until now on the Arthur site. She's already asked to do it again today.

I am a big fan of poetry, for sure, and believe it really builds skill in interpretation and comprehension of what we read. I'm definitely happy to have the kids engaged in this.

Let me share the details so you can try it too -- let me know what you do! And share a poem!

New Games Highlight Poetry and Creative Writing Online at!
Kids are invited to read, write, and share poetry online with Martha’s Rhyme Time at and Fern's Poetry Club at

In Martha’s Rhyme Time, kids can create rhyming couplets for Martha to perform. Building each from six different sets of words, there are—mathematically speaking—a bazillion combinations to create. Kids also can customize the performance stage and create a printed version to color and stick on the fridge. And, of course, with Martha being Martha, she'll introduce and explain many new vocabulary words along the way!

Fern’s Poetry Club is a long-running, popular poetry feature on the Arthur website that encourages children to write and share their poems online. Fern's Poetry Club contains information to help kids understand what poetry is, a description of different types of poems, and tips for kids on how to write their own poems—plus an archive of poems submitted to the site over the past 10 years. To celebrate National Poetry Month, new features will be added, including poetry-related video clips from Arthur. Kids will now see Fern, Arthur, and all their friends enjoying this wonderful form of expression!
The episode of Martha Speaks featuring Billy Collins airs today!
The Poetry Foundation and WGBH are teaming up to invite kids to celebrate National Poetry Month with Martha Speaks and Arthur.

“Children who are exposed to the joys of poetry at a young age are most likely to become lifelong readers of poetry as adults,” adds Stephanie Hlywak, Media Director of the Poetry Foundation. “How better to create a new generation of poetry lovers than to enlist the help of Martha, Arthur, Billy Collins, and Jack Prelutsky?”

Airing Monday, April 2, 2012, PBS KIDS will premiere the brand-new Martha Speaks episode “Billy Collins Speaks” (check local listings). In this episode, Billy Collins writes great poems about dogs, and Martha thinks she knows why. Obviously, the former poet laureate must be a canine himself! When Martha meets Billy Collins, she’s in for a few is he. Tune in to learn words like poem, poet, prose, imposter, and metaphor. Then in the classic Arthur episode “I’m a Poet,” Arthur and his friends are challenged to write a poem for a contest—to be judged by inaugural Children’s Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky. Though intimidated at first, everyone comes up with a poem that reflects his or her own unique approach.

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