Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Poem Memorization Has Unexpected Benefits

How do you know when your kids are actually learning and applying the things you teach them?

I decided to do a poem curriculum with my kids this year. It is based on the Suzuki method. Each day my kids recite poems with the purpose of memorization. The first poems are very simple and they get progressively harder. The name of the program is "Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization" and it is great. I really love it. You could make the argument that it is a completely useless thing to have kids learn this stuff, but I definitely know that is not true based on the conversation I overheard my kids have today at lunch.

For reference this is the poem...

Poem number 5:

After the Party by William Wise

Jonathan Blake ate too much cake.
He isn't himself today.
He's tucked up in bed with a feverish head
And he doesn't much care to play.

Jonathan Blake ate too much cake
And three kinds of ice cream too.
From his latest reports
He's quite out of sorts
And I'm sure the reports are true.

I'm sorry to state that he also ate
Six pickles, a pie, and a pear.
In fact I confess
It's a reasonable guess
He ate practically everything there.

Yes, Jonathan Blake ate too much cake
So he's not at his best today.
but there's no need for sorrow.
If you come back tomorrow
I'm sure he'll be out to play.

(one of the cool side effects of doing this is that I have memorized the poems too)

Okay, so the conversation I heard between my kids went something like this...

"Zach, you always have me make the breakfast and lunch and you never do it anytime."

"But Raef, I am sick and I have a feverish head. I ate too much cake today!"

Then Zach started to sob a bit.

For the record, Zach did eat cake today as a snack. It was leftover from my birthday.

As you can see, they are learning poems and how to apply them to their everyday situations. I don't ever think I have ever, in my entire life, heard a 6 year-old use the word feverish.

I guess you will all know when we are memorizing a Shakespeare soliloquy when you hear Zach use words like folly, oblivion, abides and privy.


Eve said...

who knew poetry could have such unexpected benefits??

Thanks, had fun reading this post!

Cheryl said...

Hi Kelly,
Your poem post is very interesting. I do believe in using memorization with children.
I can picture Zach and Raef having that conversation.
Thanks for the link to the book--is that what you use?

Kelly said...

Yes Cheryl, that is the book I use. It is very simple in its form, but a very effective teaching tool. I had the kids memorize about 5 poems last year, and 2 or 3 of them are in this little book. So, they already have a leg up I guess.

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