World Poetry Day 21 March
World Poetry Day is the ideal opportunity to share poems with your youngsters. Playful, silly, beautiful, fun… there’s something for everyone. Former primary school teacher Becky Cranham of education resources experts PlanBee shows you how.
A Lockdown Haiku
Another zoom call
Daily freezing groundhog walk
Will this ever end?
Writing poetry has always been a way for people to express difficult feelings and emotions. There is something so cathartic about immortalising thoughts on paper, particularly if those words are arranged in a precise and pleasing arrangement of sounds and syllables.
Yet as technology advances and people find other outlets for self-expression, poetry is becoming less and less mainstream. For those for whom poetry is unfamiliar, it can seem a daunting and curious art form, especially when it comes to introducing children. Where do you start? What forms should you teach? How do you condense something so vast into manageable and understandable chunks?
Part of the joy of poetry, however, is its simplicity. It doesn’t have to be ‘The Iliad’; it can be playful and silly and freeing. It can also be tender or thoughtful, pensive or angry, hopeful or despairing. Poetry can be anything you want it to be, and that is its unique beauty.
World Poetry Day is the perfect excuse to use poetry to help children (and adults) through these tough times.
So how exactly can poetry help? First and foremost, poetry is fun! Search ‘nonsense poetry’ online with your children and you will find a plethora of hilariously stupid poems to make your children laugh. Or look up the poems of the nonsense king, Spike Milligan, for some classic nonsense such as ‘On the ning nang nong’ or ‘Land of the Bumbly Boo’. Funny poems, whether nonsense or not, are fantastic at any time of day to lighten the mood – and we could all use a bit more of that at the moment!
Poetry is also a great way of encouraging children to explore their feelings. Children have had to deal with so much this past year: a scary virus, school closures, virtual learning, missing family and friends, as well as the loss of loved ones for many. Poetry gives children the chance to reflect on how they feel and give a voice to their feelings. Encouraging your children to write a poem, carefully choosing which words they want to include, can help them process difficult emotions.
It also affords children the chance to look to the future and the (hopefully) brighter days ahead. We all need a big old dose of hope right now and poetry can help children express what they are looking forward to about the future, helping them recognise that current events are just temporary and that life will look different soon. Which is why at PlanBee, we’re running a special poetry competition this year.
Write a poem entitled ‘When Lockdown is Over’ for your chance to win a beautiful poetry anthology
In honour of World Poetry Day 2021, PlanBee is running a competition for children aged five to 11 to encourage them to engage with poetry. All they need to do is write a poem about what they will do, or are hoping for, when lockdown ends, called ‘When Lockdown is Over’.
The poem can be in any form at all but some ideas and templates are included in this free download to get them started.
Five lucky winners will receive a copy of ‘The Folio Book of Children’s Poetry’ – a beautiful anthology of poems for children to treasure.
Entries close at midnight on Friday 19 March and the winners will be announced on World Poetry Day, Sunday 21st March, on our social media. The winners will be emailed individually too, so keep an eye on your inbox!