Poetry Tea Time: Highlight of our School Week!
I learned about Poetry Tea Time from Julie Bogart at Brave Writer several years back, and started adding it to our homeschool routine immediately. Reading poetry aloud while enjoying tea and treats? What better way to cultivate a love for something then to pair it with good food? And seriously, it’s our favorite time of the week! From decorating the table, to making a beverage, to baking a treat, everyone participates and loves it. We have used a wide variety of poetry books over the year, and that seems to be part of the enjoyment, rotating through a wealth of books from your library, and keeping the majority of them humorous in tone! Laughing over poetry is a sweet delight! And of course, it doesn’t need to be limited to poetry. This could be your read aloud time or anything else you could imagine. We’ve often enjoyed famous works of art during this time as well.
And it doesn’t need to be limited to tea either. We have enjoyed refreshing lemonade or kombucha in the warm summer months, or hot apple cider in the fall, or hot cocoa in the cold winter months. We love baking muffins, cupcakes, or scones to enjoy together for this special occasion. We’ve also bought treats at times, including cider donuts in the fall to go with hot apple cider. When we need to keep it quick and simple, we just toast some bread with butter and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon for an easy treat! Popcorn is also a hit!
We’ve done Valentine Day themed poetry teas or Christmas themed teas and made wonderful memories together, sometimes even inviting friends to join us, which adds another level of fun and delight. This year, we are pairing tea time with lunch once a week. This works well to simply add a few sandwiches to the table spread.
So how do we do it? First, I put a whole stack of various poetry books on the table. Each child and adult picks out their favorite. Then, we each take turns going around the table and reading aloud from their selections of choice. If they are non-readers, Mommy or another big sibling reads for them. I also pick out my own favorites to share on my turn.
I try to have the kids stand up or read the poem while showing the pictures to their audience, so that everyone can understand and enjoy it more visually and effectively. We rarely discuss the poem, for this is simply a time to make poetry enjoyable. The more laughs the better. Thirty minutes may be as long as their attention spans allow, or before all the beverages and treats are consumed, but that’s all it takes to enjoy poetry together.
Some of our favorite titles include:
Poems and Prayers for the Very Young (favorite for 5 and under, worth finding used!)
Eloise Wilkin’s Poems to Read to the Very Young (sweet for 5 and under, also worth finding used!)
A Child’s Book of Poems (illustrated beautifully by Gyo Fujikawa)
The Random House Book of Poetry for Children
Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes (highly recommend the illustrated version by Gyo Fujikawa, but any nursery rhyme collection is great fun for tea time as well)
Jack Prelutsky (any of his books)
Shel Silverstein (any of his books)
Carnival of the Animals
Poetrees (and other poetry collections by Douglas Florian)
A Mix of Wet Cement
If You Were A Chocolate Mustache