Exposing children to a carefully selected few poems about flowers can teach them about flowers and poetry simultaneously. The level of the poetry should match kids' comprehension levels as well as their reading levels. Accompanying each poem with a creative, interactive activity enhances the lesson.
Daffy Down Dilly
This Mother Goose nursery rhyme will mean much more to kids if they can add colour to a line drawing of a daffodil and hear an explanation of why daffodils look like a woman all dressed up.
Daffy Down Dilly
Has come to town
In a yellow petticoat
And a green gown.
Children can actually act out this nursery rhyme. Showing them a photograph of tall hollyhocks growing in the garden will give them a frame of reference. First, have them say the first two lines with their arms stretched high, then the third and fourth lines on tiptoe. They can squat down for the fifth and sixth lines and then stretch high for the last two.
The hollyhocks I planted
Have grown so very tall
That now, on tiptoe, they can look
Over the garden wall;
I seem to grow so slowly,
And I'm older far than they;
I think perhaps I'll plant myself
In the garden, some fine day.
Children might need to know what a backyard hammock is before they hear this poem by an anonymous poet. They might enjoy painting a picture of the flower-painting fairies making the tulips red and the pansies white or blue.
I always wondered how it was
That tulips could be red,
And pansies could be white or blue,
All growing in one bed;
'Til one day from my hammock
I saw how it was done!
The flower painter fairies came
And painted every one!
Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
Kids can easily memorise this nursery rhyme that gives them a chance to learn something about imagery: the bells, the shells and the maids are all describing what the flowers look like.
Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row.
Roses are Red
This traditional verse works well for a choral reading exercise. Half the class can say lines 1 and 3; the other half says lines 2 and 4.
Roses are red,
Violets are blue
Sugar is sweet
And so are you.
The first stanza of this poem, from Sarah J. Day's 1900 book, "From Mayflowers to Mistletoe: a Year with the Flower Folk," is an opportunity for kids to learn about personification ("with shining face smile" and similes ("like sunshine in the grass").
The buttercups with shining face
Smile upward as I pass.
They seem to lighten all the place
Like sunshine in the grass.
The Bee And The Flower
Because Alfred Lord Tennyson's "The Bee and the Flower," is almost all in dialogue, kids can read it aloud as a little play. Divided into groups of three, one student can serve as the narrator for the lines not in quotation marks. Another student reads the bee part and a third student portrays the flower.
The bee buzzed up in the heat.
"I am faint for your honey, my sweet."
The flower said, "Take it, my dear;
For now is the spring of the year.
So, come, come!
And the bee buzzed down from the heat.
And the bee buzzed up in the cold.
When the flower was withered and old.
"Have you still any honey, my dear?"
She said, "It's the fall of the year,
But come, come!"
And the bee buzzed off in the cold.
- "The Real Mother Goose"; Blanche Fischer Wright; 1994
- "From Mayflowers to Mistletoe: a Year with the Flower Folk"; Sarah J. Day; 1900
- "Poetical Works: Tennyson (Wordsworth Poetry Library)"; Alfred Tennyson; 1998
- Poetry 4 Kids: Poetry for children http://www.poetry4kids.com/
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