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Using Back to School Poems for Classroom Activities

Karen Frazier
Magnetic letters spell back to school

Back to school poems can help to ease the transition between summer and school for children. Many things can be expressed through poetry that can enhance the learning process or help kids to tune into their feelings about change. Discover how back to school poetry can be incorporated into this important and busy time of the year.

The Value of Poetry in Education

Poetry does a lot more than teach kids how to rhyme. The rhythmic nature of some types of poetry can actually become a device that helps kids to remember important facts and rules. It is also a terrific way for children to express themselves through language and sound. In these contexts, both reading and writing poetry can provide a valuable learning experience.

Using Back to School Poems

Back to school poems provide opportunities for teachable moments. For many children, the transition between a summer spent at home and heading back to school in the fall can feel jarring and even a bit traumatic. Not only does the structure of the child's days change when they return to school, but the days are filled with all sorts of newness: new rules, new teachers, kids they haven't met before, a new classroom. It can all be overwhelming. Using poetry is one way to help ease this transition.

Another effective use of back to school poetry is to use it to teach kids the routines and expectations of the classroom. In this way, back to school poetry is an effective form of communication that lays the groundwork for ongoing classroom management.

Poetry Activities for Kids

There are a number of poetry activities that you can do with kids when they return to school for the start of a new year.

Rules Poem

With a new classroom comes a new set of rules. For younger children especially, learning the rules of a new classroom can feel overwhelming. While some rules are common to all teachers, most teachers also have their own set of rules unique to their classroom. Reciting the rules in a simple, rhythmic poem can help young learners to become familiar with the rules of the classroom. You can either write a poem yourself and teach it to children or have the children write a poem about the rules as individuals or a group.

Transitional Activity Poems and Songs

Transitions in classroom activities can be difficult, especially for young children. Teaching children to effectively transition between activities starts on the very first day of school. By teaching a child a poem or song (which is, after all, a poem set to music) to recite during transitional activities, it can help to ease the transitions by making them more fun and predictable for the students. As a matter of fact, using poems and songs for classroom management from the very first day of school and throughout the school year can help keep students on task. For instance, teach kids a "clean up" poem for when it is time to clean up art supplies or at the end of the day. You could also have poems for lining up, recess, lunch time or to go between subjects such as math and language arts. The first few days of school are the perfect time to teach kids these types of poems. You can even work together as a class to create your own transitional poems to use throughout the year. This works especially well for children in the early grades - preschool to about third grade.

Back to School Structured Poems

Older children might find this activity a great back to school icebreaker, and it also provides a wonderful way to sneak in a language arts lesson on the first day of school. Provide a handout or write on the board the rules of several different types of structured poetry such as haiku, acrostic and cinquain. Spend a few minutes writing an example of each as a group. Next, allow the students to pick one of the styles and then write a poem that tells something about themselves to share with their classmates. Alternatively, they could use the forms of poetry to share something about their summers or to express their feelings about returning to school.

Using back to school poetry is a wonderful activity for kids of all ages. By choosing age appropriate poetry activities, you can help use poetry to ease the transition back to the school year.

Using Back to School Poems for Classroom Activities