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nursery rhymes: powerful poems for fluency and more

Apr 21, 2013 // 3 comments // Categories: fluency, reading // Tags: , , , , , , .

nursery rhymes coverApril is National Poetry Month!

Did you know that?

It is, and it’s not too late to jump in on the celebration!

We have been doing little things over here when we can, where we can.  The great thing about poetry is that there is so much to choose from that you can certainly find a poem or two to fit in any amount of time you have.

The majority of our poetry reading has been done at night, right before bed. And it’s been a whole lot of oldie-but-goodie nursery rhyme reading.

Nursery rhymes totally count as poems, you know. And even the bigger kids love ‘em.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Nursery Rhymes: Powerful Poems for Fluency and More:  It’s really simple. We don’t read the whole book of poems every single night–we pick one per page.

 We’ve been leaning on one of our favorite books, Mary Had a Little Jam, by Bruce Lansky.

And each night, after showers and baths and teeth are brushed and we’re all finally settling down for the night, we take turns picking one poem per page.  One nursery rhyme.

Nursery rhymes are tiny little poems, often reserved for the little ones–right out of the nursery!–but not in our house.  Nursery rhymes are fab with rhythm, great with rhyme, and these little ditties are funny. So my kids love ‘em.  In my opinion, they deserve a little more air-time.

We mix it up, but the basics are the same: one poem is read on each page, until we’re through the book.

Some days we:

  • have the person who picked the poem read it;
  • pick one poem and the next person reads it;
  • echo read– we all read the poem together;
  • start reading the first two lines, close the book and finish the rest by heart;
  • say the title of the poem chosen, close the book and try to recite it by heart.

And sometimes, we do half the book one way and finish it in another way. Not a big deal.

The important part is that we’re reading. Together.

And Maddy, Owen, and Cora are listening to fluent reading (which helps create fluent readers). They’re working their brains (memorization helps with that!), and they’re feeling successful because they feel great about committing even short poems to memory.

Jerry Johns and Roberta Berglund published a fabulous article on fluency, “A Quick Orientation to Fluency.” They state,

Modeling, demonstrating, and thinking out loud are some of the explicit actions you can take to help students become fluent readers. You can model fluent reading and take time to discuss what makes reading fluent. Teaching phrasing and providing guided practice will also help remove some of the mystery of fluency. Johns, J.L., & Berglund, R.L. (2010). Enter Here: A Quick Orientation to Fluency. In Fluency (pp. 1-26). Dubuque; Newark, DE: Kendall Hunt; International Reading Association.

Even though we weren’t explicitly discussing how to make our poem-reading fluent, the constant modeling does the job.  It’s key. We’ve read and re-read these poems so much that the kids know what sounds right.  Poems, just by the way they’re written, lend themselves to easy phrasing.

Love, love, love it.  Happy poetry reading!

 

fyi: Affiliate links are used in this post.

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  1. So glad you are connected nursery rhymes to poetry and fluency! Powerful for helping children to grasp the rhythm of language.

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  2. What a terrific post! Sometimes I think we forget how important poems and songs are to development of good phrasing and fluency in our earliest readers, and the value they have in developing an ear for rhyme. I think I’ll share this on my FB page as a reminder to everyone (including myself) to address it more often! Our kids really enjoyed a nursery rhyme book from Scholastic years ago called ‘Hey diddle diddle’, filled with all of the classics in vibrant primary colors. Great times.

    Reply
    • thank you thank you thank you, you super fun reading teacher, you! Can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate you reading and taking the time to write!

      Reply

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