Books of Beauty!

March 24 is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Birthday. He would be 205 years old in 2015, and I think that is a cause for celebration. I can't think of a better way to mark the day than to read some of his poems. Reading poetry to children helps to expand their vocabulary, teaches them new ways to arrange words, and develops creativity and enhances visualization skills, since children must use their imaginations to picture the images being painted by the words. The lyrical nature of poetry also tends to be naturally attractive to kids, and the short length of many poems makes them an ideal way to share language with kids who have difficulty sitting through longer stories. Here's a great, short poem by Longfellow that you can share with your kids today:

Out of the bosom of the air,
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent and soft and slow
Descends the snow.

Just reading the poem with your kids is wonderful, but you can make the experience even more meaningful by giving kids opportunities to actually engage with the poem. There are many different ways that you can do this, but I'll suggest a few that often work beary well:
1. After you have read the poem with your children a few times, encourage them to create actions to go along with the poem. In this poem, they might want to shake or move their hands to imitate snowflakes falling, tip toe softly and silently, and then fall gently to the ground at the end of the poem.
2. Copy the poem out onto a sheet of paper (great writing practice for older kids), and decorate the paper with snowflakes.
3. Have kids draw or paint a picture of the image depicted by the poem.
4. Copy the poem onto a separate piece of paper, and cut each line of the poem into a separate strip. Scramble up the strips. Provide kids with the full text of the poem, and the strips, and see if they can rearrange the strips to form the poem. Challenge older children to put the strips of the poem without the full text.
5. Have kids try and write their own poems about the snow.
6. Talk about words that your kids may be unfamiliar with in the poem. Look up the meaning of those words in the dictionary, and discuss what the words mean. Re-write the poem using more familiar words. Discuss whether changing the words changes the rhythm or the poem (older kids), or just whether everyone prefers the original or the rewritten version.

Wishing you a beary lovely evening, and Longfellow a beary Happy Birthday!

Yours Beary Truly,
Theodore Bear

Ape 2 Zebra has a beautiful selection of books and multimedia, hand selected by Theodore himself!