I first read about "Poetry Teatimes" on the Brave Writer website. It looked like so much fun that I decided to add it to our weekly schedule beginning this fall.
Today was a miserable day. It rained and rained, JJ was ridiculously cranky, and SA seemed determined to push all his buttons. I hadn't planned on starting our school year until the official beginning of Autumn, but something needed to be done. I put some water on to boil, and got out a tablecloth and a cute little teapot. I had no baking done, so I broke apart a Kit Kat bar, unwrapped some whole wheat soda crackers, cut some Mozzarella cheese and arranged them all on a pretty china plate. Then I went hunting for a poetry book. I couldn't find my Child's Garden of Verses or even Mother Goose. All I had was Classic Poetry, an illustrated collection put together by Michael Rosen. The poems weren't exactly suitable for a 5- and 3-year-old, but I thought at least they'd enjoy the rhythm and the illustrations, if they didn't understand them.
By this time their tea was cool enough for them to drink, and they were enjoying it immensely. I was flipping through the book to see if there was anything more suited to little boys, when SA stopped me. "Look Mama!" he exclaimed. "It says A God Play!" It was R.L. Stevenson's "A Good Play", an excellent choice for little boys. We read it. By this time JJ was done with his tea and wanted more crackers. I let him get himself some more, and SA picked one last poem: "Paul Revere's Ride." Surprisingly, he listened intently to all six pages of the poem. I don't know how much he understood, but I think he enjoyed the galloping rhythm of it. It may also have helped that it had some references to clocks, which he loves, and some small, detailed illustrations.
This was a great experience for all of us, and we are planning to do it every week. I hope to find some simpler poetry for them to enjoy, though I don't regret reading the more difficult poetry this week. It made me think again how younger children often have the advantage of hearing more difficult vocabulary because of their older sibling(s), while our oldest children rarely hear things that are beyond their level. I think it was probably good for SA to hear something he didn't completely understand.