Today, one of my former Poetry Teatime students is our guest contributor. Katie has a beautiful way of describing what Poetry Teatime looks like from a student’s perspective and she points out that Poetry Teatime has so many more benefits than just learning about poetry.
Monthly Poetry Teatime
On the first Wednesday of the month, a group of middle schoolers arrives in the cafeteria. There is a row of tables lined up end to end surrounded by chairs. Perpendicular to the row, by the far end, there’s another table. It has stacks of teacups and saucers, two pots of tea labeled with what kind they are, a pitcher of cream, and a bowl of sugar cubes neatly arranged by one end. By the other end, there are stacks of plates and napkins and a platter of snacks of some kind. In the middle, there is a miniature blackboard with a poet’s name and “Poetry Teatime” written on it.
The students choose a teacup and the kind of tea they like, add cream or sugar if they want, and take a snack. Then, as they eat, they read out loud a poem they have found, in a book or online, by that month’s poet. Then, the teacher assigns them a poetry technique to use, and they write their own poems and share them with the rest of the class if they desire.
All the details are planned out. The children are inspired and the enchantment begins.
I am the teacher’s assistant. I help set up, making sure the right label goes with the right teapot and that there’s enough room for everything on the table. I also help when the kids are writing their poems.
If someone’s not writing, I ask why. Maybe their pencil broke. Maybe they can’t think of a rhyme. Maybe they can’t even think of a topic. Maybe they don’t understand the technique they’re supposed to be using.
I am, in essence, the troubleshooter.
I try to make sure that everyone has something written by the end of the class, even if it’s just a single couplet so that they can have the experience of writing poetry.
Poetry Teatime Is So Much More Than Poetry
Every month, we study a different poet and not just the common ones. Some of them, like Robert Louis Stevenson and L. Frank Baum, I didn’t even realize were poets until we studied them for Poetry Teatime. And because not all of the poets are popular or particularly well-known for their poems, the kids have to research these poets and learn more about them.
So, not only are they learning about poetry, they’re learning about research and how to find relatively obscure facts that require more than just a simple Google search or a scan through a book of assorted poetry.
Poetry Teatime is a fun, interesting class my homeschool group set up to teach kids about both reading and writing poetry. Different kinds of tea encourage them to try new drinks as well as new poems, Reading these poems out loud encourages them to be more comfortable with public speaking, and finding the poems teaches them about research.
Plus, choosing a poem teaches them what kinds of poems are their favorites, helping them develop their taste for poetry. My job is to help them unleash their creativity and apply the concepts they learn in class to their own poetry.
Do you have a Poetry Teatime with friends? What does it look like in your group?
Would you like a way to implement Poetry Teatime in your homeschool? Our Poetry Teatime Holiday Edition helps you choose snacks, decorations, poems and activities to go with holiday themes. Check it out below.
Katie is a college student and former Poetry Teatime student. She is a homeschool graduate.