How to Host Poetry Teatime with Preschoolers – Helping Your Child Love to Read
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Have you seen people talking about poetry teatime? The idea of poetry teatime seems to be popping up everywhere right now! But, what on earth is poetry teatime and how can you do teatime in your home?!
Don’t worry! I can fill you in on the details and give you some tips on how to get started with this fabulous little activity that has been finding its way into the homes of families with children of all ages.
In a nutshell, poetry teatime is EXACTLY what it sounds like. You serve tea, and you read poems. Simple as that!
Poetry teatime has become a weekly tradition in my home that both of my children, ages 5 and 1, look forward to each week.
We actually did it twice last week, because of my one-year-old. As I was folding the table cloth that we use for poetry teatime, my son (still not a ton of words yet) yanked it out of my hands and insisted on putting it back on the kid’s table. He then proceeded to pick out books and went to the kitchen in search of snacks.
It’s hard to say no when your kids love it so much and your KIDS ARE ASKING TO READ!
With young, active kids, however, the idea of sitting down to tea and reading poetry can sound terribly intimidating. You may be wondering: “How will my kid ever sit still?! Won’t they get bored and just want to run around the table or break the cups because my children are wayyy too rough for a civilized tea party.“
I understand your fears, but hear me out. I’m doing this with two active little ones that are 5 and 1. My son is about as rough and tumble as they get. He loves to run around the house making mischief of epic proportions. But BOTH of my children LOVE this tradition, and I love that they’re learning so much and building memories each time we do it.
The key? SNACK TIME and good conversation!
So, how do you do poetry teatime? How do you get started? Well, read on and I will share my experience with you. Honestly, it couldn’t be more simple!
POETRY TEATIME IN 5 EASY STEPS
Step One – Set the Table
You can go all out finding cute teacups and a fancy tablecloth if that’s your thing, but, I promise, your kids will be just as happy with child-sized mugs and literally any tablecloth you might have. (It can be an old bed sheet too instead of a table cloth! Your child won’t care!)
I use child-sized Christmas mugs we happen to have for our poetry teatime and a teapot that was gifted to me as a wedding gift. Use whatever YOU have that your children will see as special and different from your norm!
A Word of Caution: If you go thrifting for your tea set, many older tea sets use led paint for their beautiful decorations and are not suitable to use given todays standards for contact with led. Sorry to be a downer, I just want to make sure you’re informed! I know I would want someone to tell me!
I have one tablecloth which I bought for my daughter’s second birthday and now use for Easter, Thanksgiving, birthdays, and every week for poetry teatime. It feels like an extra sign for my children that something special is happening because we only use it for special occasions.
The idea is simply to give your tea a sense that it’s special and something different from your normal routine. These are outward signals to your children that they are experiencing something important and memorable and will help them want to pay attention without a word ever being spoken.
If the weather is beautiful, take your tea outside! Make a picnic of your poetry teatime at a local park. Ditch the teapot and put your tea in a thermos to divide and share. Before, or after, your poetry teatime your kids can burn off energy on walking trails or on play equipment. It would certainly be a lovely time!
DON’T FORGET!! Let your little ones help you set the table!
Setting the table is a great way to reinforce one-to-one correspondence, the idea that one number matches with one object. Let your child know we need three chairs, three plates, three napkins, and three cups. Teatime is good for learning early math skills too!
Step 2 – Have Yummy Snacks!
If baking isn’t your thing, a little charcutier board is just the trick to make your tea feel fancy and even be good enough to replace a meal! I like to include a couple kinds of cheeses, fresh fruit, whole grain crackers, pretzels and even some pepperoni or salami if we have it.
Of course, if you prefer, you can make scones or other sweets like tea cakes, cookies or brownies. Do what works for you! And change it up each week if you like! You can have a theme if you’re feeling like putting in the extra effort – dinosaur tea time, fairy garden tea time, birthday teatime!
I find the easier the preparation is for an activity the more likely we are to continue. So, I reserve sugary baked goods for extra special teatimes and stick with fruit, cheese and crackers as our normal. It works for us. Experiment and find what works for you!
Step 3 – Serve TEA!
You’re thinking “Duh this is teatime after all, of course you serve tea.” But… do you?
For teatime in our home, we actually put water in the teapot and pour that into our fancy mugs. For an extra special teatime, we might serve hot chocolate or warm apple cider. Tea just isn’t our thing (YET).
If you or your children REALLY want tea, try a fruitier tea like hibiscus or honey lemon. It may be more to your child’s liking. My daughter is starting to want real tea, so I see a variety pack in our future. We’re bound to find something we like! It seems as though there are a million options when it comes to tea. Really something for everyone, including our little picky eaters.
It doesn’t truly matter what you serve as long as you enjoy it. Just throw a beverage in a teapot and serve it up! Voila, teatime!
Step 4 – Read and Discuss GOOD Poetry Together
We have been on the hunt for poetry that we enjoy since we first heard about poetry teatime and have stumbled upon some FABULOUS recommendations that I’m excited to be able to share with you – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rodgers and Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year and Feel the Beat: Dance Poems that Zing from Salsa to Swing.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers
Who knew Mr. Roger’s was so cool?! I mean I enjoyed his show as a child with the trolley and the puppets and everything. But, as an adult I am learning just how much I REALLY love Mister Rogers and support his mission of inclusion and fighting for children’s mental health. He really did a lot for children’s television programing and for that I am grateful.
I am so glad we took the plunge and bought this poetry book. Like his TV show, this book of poetry helps kids to tackle and understand emotions a bit more. It helps children to see themselves as special just as they are. I love how he covers different topics kids might face and the messages that come through in his work. Definitely, a must have, for us.
We could spend all year exploring this book and we typically read a couple poems from it during our poetry teatime. Both me and my children enjoy this collection of poems and I find it really insightful and relatable.
I hope you do too!
Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year
If you’re looking for beautiful illustrations to accompany poetry selected from a variety of writers, then this book is for you! It is a large book, full of nature poems for all seasons and will keep you busy all year (as the name suggests.)
I love this collection of poems, and am happy to have it as part of our home collection. The imagery is lovely and really shows how words can be beautiful, and thought provoking.
Really a great introduction to poetry for young children!
Feel the Beat: Dance Poems that Zing from Salsa to Swing
I LOVE THIS BOOK! As a person who grew up surrounded by dance and music, I love the rhythms in this book and the fun pictures that show so much life going on inside of them. The fact that this poetry book shows celebrations and joy in so many cultures around the world also makes it a favorite of mine. I feel like sometimes poetry can feel old and drab and hard to connect to, but that’s not the case at all with this book. It’s vibrant and full of life and fun!
A few more obvious suggestions that may be SO OBVIOUS you forget about them: Dr. Seuss’s books, Where the Sidewalk Ends by Schell Silverstein, and literally a million picture books that are written in rhyme can be read aloud at poetry teatime.
One of my favorites of Dr. Seuss’ books to include at teatime is The Sneeches and Other Stories. The “other stories” are a bit shorter but still contain great material and are certainly thought provoking. Specifically for preschoolers, be sure to check out Bear Feels Sick by Karma Wilson and The Way I Feel by Janan Cain. Both are AMAZING and hold a special place in my own library. I can’t imagine you won’t love them too!
While your little ones are munching away on their snacks, sipping their tea (or another beverage of your choice), feeling really special, it is the PERFECT time for introducing poetry and starting some wonderful conversation.
Choose a couple of your favorites to share and discuss with your children what they think about the poems. How do the poems make you feel? What is the poem about? Just some light discussion to get them thinking. After all, if your child is young, simply exposing them to wonderful poetry is commendable all on its own.
Step 5 – Relax and Have Fun
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself! Poetry teatime is a wonderful time to connect with your children and share a love of reading and learning together.
Ask your children to share books with you that they like to read. Have silly discussions about Dr. Seuss and make up your own funny rhyming words. Laugh together! Make memories!
In the end, if your child learns no more than the fact that books and words bring people together and help us think and connect, your poetry teatime has been a magnificent success!
Well done you!
I hope you feel confident that you too can tackle poetry teatime in your home and that you now have the tools you need to be successful.
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