Poetry for Young Children

Children are naturally drawn to humor, rhyme and rhythm, and these are all found in poetry. Poems can be used to introduce or practice new vocabulary, language structures and rhyming devices.

Family Activity:

  • Create word families. Use refrigerator magnets to spell a word ending (-ap). Have your child put other letters in front of the word ending to create rhyming words (tap, cap, map, lap).
  • Fill in the blank. Read children's poems aloud and leave off the final word, and have your child fill in the missing rhyming word:
    • "Run, run, as fast as you can,
      You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread ____."
  • Make TV time a time for learning. Choose programs with a focus on reading. Check out PBS' Between the Lions, for children ages 4-7, or Reading Rainbow, for ages 4-6.

Literacy Tip:

There's a reason we learn nursery rhymes as young children; they help us develop an ear for our language. Rhyme and rhythm highlight the sounds and syllables in words, and understanding sounds and syllables helps kids learn to read!

Check out this list of Poetry materials for children!


Have older children? Try these silly activities!

Get you kids jazzed about poetry during Poetry Month, opens a new window. A great way is write about something edible — like popcorn — and work on one or more poetic elements. Try using repetition, onomatopoeia, and use of white space with popcorn.

Prep your kids with example poems that include repetition, onomatopoeia words, and creative use of white space. You can do this throughout the writing experience.

Remember Batman? Pow! Bam! Wham! Those are all onomatopoeia, or words that sound like what they are. Start an onomatopoeia word collection, opens a new window with your kids.

Onomatopoeia Word List

+ animal sound words: meow, woof, snort, hiss, squeak, etc.


Repetition and White Space for Emphasis

Then there’s repetition. Pow! Bam! Wham! It can be used to create emphasis. Pow! Bam! Wham! 

Get artsy with the white space. Write the poem in a way that fits the poem.


Together brainstorm more about the popcorn experience.

Use your five senses. What did you smell, taste, feel, hear, see?

Suggest kids play around with words and lines to create their own poems.

Look for fun word combinations that could be repeated throughout the poem.


Model Writing

Listen . . . as you pop popcorn in an air popcorn popper. Laugh and giggle . . . as you write your own poem, showing kids how fun it is to repeat POP! throughout. (Remember, your enthusiasm is contagious.)