Poetry and Music for Elementary Students
January 3, 2018 12:25 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend poetry and/or poetry tied to music that elementary students would enjoy.

My 6yo / 1st-grader attends a school where the whole school follows the same "unit of instruction" for several weeks. The upcoming unit is "Poetry and Music". I'm excited about this unit, but have realized that the music that I find poetic is definitely way above his level of understanding and he's not likely to be charmed by it. Still, as part of reinforcing what he's learning at school, at home I want to share a few songs or poems that he will find charming and that will (hopefully) draw him further into music appreciation. Recommendations highly appreciated. Willing to entertain any genre.

I'm looking for something beyond normal nursery rhymes, or current pop music. He enjoys those, but he's already been exposed to them. He also enjoys the music from the Nutcracker, and gospel music that we hear occasionally at church.

I should add that the theme of each unit is incorporated into all areas of instruction, including math, history, language, art, and of course playtime. It will be the focus of the student-led weekly school assemblies over the course of the next few weeks.
posted by vignettist to Education (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You might get a bit of mileage out of Jah Wobble: the Inspiration of William Blake.

There are some kid-related poems set to music heavy on the dub Reggae bass...

... But everybody loves The Tyger, right?
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:22 AM on January 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Look for a copy of Rose, Where Did You Get The Red? By Kenneth Koch. It's brilliant. Written to teach children how to read and write poetry. Originally published in 1973.
Also, my kids loved Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends, at that age.
posted by Enid Lareg at 4:07 AM on January 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

Dino 5?
posted by juv3nal at 5:12 AM on January 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

When it was November, we read the poem No! and then listened to the Art of Noise's version. Fun stuff, and easy for kids to write their own.
posted by glitter at 6:00 AM on January 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Some of the poetry my students (year 3s) have loved. Your son might be too young to explore all these poems by himself, but might be ready to do it with you.

Michael Rosen's A-Z

The Works has been HUGE Success

Read Me and Laugh: HUGE Success Part II

My kiddies would return to these books (and others - but I'm highlighting the three most successful ones) and read them individually or in groups to perform to each other. It's hard to describe the joy they found in this. They would experiment with rhythm, beat, intonation and all that. They would add actions. They would giggle. They would take notes and bookmark poems to return to. Introducing children to good poetry to perform to and read aloud is amazing. The books are so tatty now but who cares? They're well loved.

A great one for exploring the concepts of poetry, beat, rhythm, and music, is the genius of Spike Milligan's On the Ning Nang Nong. I've used it as a hook to get my students into poetry (see above).

Michael Rosen is hilarious and incisive. Check out No Breathing In Class and Chocolate Cake.

Let's Go Everywhere is a children's album that's surprising, fun and adult-friendly. By jazz trio Medeski, Martin and Wood.

Dr Seuss.

For maths songs, look up NumberRock. Not poetry as such, but good fun.

GoNoodle also has some fun educational songs. You need to sign up but there's plenty of free content.
posted by mkdirusername at 6:09 AM on January 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

This edition of Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals pairs each animal-themed movement with a related poem by Ogden Nash. It's been a great hit with school-aged, Nutcracker-loving kids I've known.

In general, I love Ogden Nash for kids' light verse with somewhat more joy in language than the standard Shel Silverstein/Dr.Seuss fare. Isabel and The Animal Garden are perennial favorites.
posted by Bardolph at 6:38 AM on January 3, 2018 [4 favorites]

Sandra Boynton has done several books and music combinations. And she's funny.
Ask a public children's librarian, too, they often keep an eye out for that kind of thing to beef up their collection, and may have something you can borrow.
posted by Enid Lareg at 8:28 AM on January 3, 2018

Response by poster: Awesome, thank you all! Really looking forward to digging into these.
posted by vignettist at 6:15 PM on January 3, 2018

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