How do you engage your kids in poetry?

Littlescribe: Poetry is still relevant for today's kids

Littlescribe Stories
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The Bush Poem by Lachlan Moxey-Highland and Will I make it? by Felix Lonergan.

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Last week The Land featured The Bush Poem from St Thomas Aquinas, Bowral student Lachlan Moxey-Highland and Will I Make It? from Our Lady of Fatima, Caringbah student Felix Lonergan.

The poems were written as part of the Littlescribe Mini-Writing Festival, inspired by a workshop with writer Kirli Saunders.

Kirli, on a Zoom call with around 35,000 students from across Australia, asked them to think of their favourite place as a person.

What would it feel? What would it think? How would it move?

The below was written by Littlescribe founder, Jenny Atkinson on why poetry is still relevant for today's kids.

I love a sunburnt country...

It is unlikely there is a better-known line in Australian poetry than "I love a sunburnt country."

The poem, My Country, by Dorothea Mackellar is inspired by her time on family properties and life in Gunnedah and the Hunter Valley.

The Australian landscape is so diverse and unique, it is our greatest gift and provides endless inspiration.

What is perhaps less known is she wrote and published this poem at the age of 19.

In July during the Littlescribe Mini-Writing Festival, we experienced first-hand just how deeply children respond and love writing poetry.

Kirli Saunders, a proud Gunai Woman and award-winning international writer of poetry, plays and picture books, had thousands of students connecting to the land as a source of inspiration to write poetry.

Kirli led students in a three-minute Zoom session, where they closed their eyes, reflected and connected with their favourite landscape, from the bush to the beach.

Thousands of students were asked to quietly connect to what they saw, felt, smelt, and heard in relation to the landscape.

Together the students brainstormed playing with words, language, including first nations' languages, and used personification to bring their poems to life.

Children have an innate ability to connect rhyming words and ideas to create stories.

Kirli evoked in each child the desire to personify the land just like Dorothea Mackellar had more than 115 years after My Country was first published.

Poetry a skill for jobs of tomorrow

Far from being a dying art, poetry's resurgence in slam poetry, rap, and lyrics in songs provides real relevance and application for students today.

I often hear parents and students ask what's the point of poetry? Is it still relevant today?

The answer in short is yes.

How we engage students can help build complex, powerful literacy and real-life skills. How so?

Jobs of tomorrow involve the ability to cut through and create memorable moments, such as jingles on the radio, so being able to evoke emotion and increase memory by using rhyme and rhythm are techniques that sell.

Poetry is also a building block that deepens literacy skills and concepts like alliteration and onomatopoeia.

The rhyming of words is fun, joyful, and provides scope for students to experiment and stumble across concepts they can use later in life, perhaps not as a poet but rather as an effective communicator.

Emotionally poetry allows students to express themselves in a unique and personal way.

The door is wide open for interpretation. Like the use of short sharp sentences. Or elongated lengthy lines lazily running on and off the page, like a river finding its natural flow.

Poetry requires the ability to connect the mind and emotions.

There is much focus on critical and creative skills being fundamental for our children as they move into the workplace.

Poetry requires interpretation and connection to the human experience.

Exposure to both reading and writing poetry is one form we can use to build these intangible, yet crucial life skills.

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