Category Archives: Poetry and Poet Study

Poetry Tea Time

Traditionally, I have had a Poetry Study time weekly where we read a bit of biography and a few poems by our chosen poet for the term. It is nice, but not always particularly memorable. I also tried to read a poem or two just for fun during the daily family studies. I felt that those poems were lacking – they were okay, but not necessarily full of living ideas that made me want to think about what we were reading.

Poetry Tea Time Refreshments 1

I have been listening to a few CM podcasts that featured Cindy Rollins of Morning Time fame (she is also the hostess of The Mason Jar on Circe’s podcasts) where she described her family enjoying a poem in depth. They only read one poem at a time, repeating it daily until they were able to commit it to memory, but also giving the whole family time to linger over the rolling phrases and mental imagery the words created in their minds and hearts.  This stoked my desires to have lovely poems that spoke of truth, goodness, and beauty in all its myriad forms.

Questions like ‘How? When? What? and even Who” were lurking in the quiet recesses of my mind as I tried to figure out where to start. And then, as always, the Lord provided a tender mercy as He provided the answers in the form of a  wonderful discussion my Charlotte Mason reading group had in December about reading Poetry and having it be fun and an effective way of conveying living ideas to our children. My friend shared with us her experience with Poetry Tea Time in their home. It sounded like so much fun that I resolved to try it in our own home.

Our first week back to school for our second term, I wanted (needed) something different to do so that we would all look forward to it and decided to introduce Poetry Tea Time. I made a pitcher of lemonade and some chocolate chip cookies, handed each of my girls a poetry book and told them to find a poem to share, asked the older girls to be prepared to recite a memorized poem, and invited my mom to participate – that officially makes it a Noteworthy Event, especially when I use the special dishes my mother got as a wedding present.

At 2 pm, we sat down, had some refreshments on our fancy little glass dishes and cups, and we each shared a poem (or two). I introduced the poet we’re studying this term by sharing a few paragraphs of his biography and reading a couple of his poems. That was it. 25 minutes and a snack. It was fun. And school could be done for the day with this ritual of poetry sharing.

Enjoying the food!

So I tried it the next week. Same time, place, and people – and it was a smashing success. We sat around the table for a whole hour reading poetry (Jack Prelutsky is so fun!) and laughing. They are already asking about getting ready this week. I felt the Spirit whispering that this is what my family needs… to slow down, to reconnect to each other as loved friends, to just be in the moment – not stressing so much about the next thing that has to be checked-off.  What a blessing!

Next week I will share some of my favorite poetry resources, new and old!

For more ideas on Poetry Tea Time, click on these links:

7 Ways to an Easy and Fun Poetry Tea Time by Creekside Learning

Easy Tips for Poetry Tea Time by Pam Barnhill  at EdSnapshots


To Shakespeare or Not to Shakespeare? That is the question…

Shakespeare book.

I have the book called How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare and finished it about a year ago. I was totally excited about Shakespeare when I was done because he is so enthusiastic and I loved how he explained the characters and the plays he chose. I wanted to go find a well-done production and watch them all. =)

The week I finished the book, we started memorizing a passage  from A Midsummer Night’s Dream since we have already studied it and my children enjoyed it. We memorized a couple of his choices from that play and then skipped to other plays.

The author has children memorizing a variety of plays and passages. Depending on your children ages and maturity, I will caution that we need to be careful about which plays that we share and about what we choose to commit to our children’s memory.

Edited to add:

We have been memorizing Shakespeare for a year now. I made a memory box (see here) and have created review cards for each passage. The girls are loving this. We are currently finishing The Winter’s Tale (per JitterBug’s request) and have so much fun with it.  

Side benefits we have enjoyed:

  • the little family jokes as we quote certain passages at each other when something reminds us of it.
  • Reading the scriptures and other harder books is not so intimidating…in fact, Shakespeare has taken much of the “it’s to hard for me” away.  
  • And how much fun is it to listen to the kids as we are reading the lines aloud to hear them start putting expression into it – even plays that they have not read before?  The ability to use your voice and tones to create an enjoyable reading experience for an audience is important….whether it is for a large audience or for a single child who learns to love books because of your excitement over the words and story.
  • The passages we choose make great quotes for a Book of Mottoes (aka a Commonplace Book)
  • We have some great discussions about events that occur in the plays. It’s a good way to discuss how to handle various situations in life.

Another thing that I am enjoying after reading about some of Shakespeare’s plays (as well as actually reading the plays) is how much richer other books are – including CM’s Original Series – because I understand the story lines of the characters the author is referring to. There are so many subtle nuances that you lose when you don’t know the story. I feel the same way about mythological references in books. You miss something the author is speaking of when you don’t know the story they are referencing.  Anyway…off my soapbox… 🙂

We will continue to memorize Shakespeare and we will choose our own passages from the plays we actually have read. I think in the end it will mean more to them because they will have already made their own connections with it.

A Book

Stack of Classic Books

A Book

by Edgar Guest

“Now” – said a good book unto me –
“Open my pages and you shall see
Jewels of wisdom and treasures fine,
Gold and silver in every line,
And you may claim them if you but will
Open my pages and take your fill.

“Open my pages and run them o’er,
Take what you choose of my golden store.
Be you greedy, I shall not care –
All that you seize I shall gladly spare;
There is never a lock on my treasure doors,
Come – here are my jewels, make them yours!

“I am just a book on your mantel shelf,
But I can be part of your living self;
If only you’ll travel my pages through,
Then I will travel the world with you.
As two wines blended make better wine,
Blend your mind with these truths of mine.

“I’ll make you fitter to talk with men,
I’ll touch with silver the lines you pen,
I’ll lead you nearer the truth you seek,
I’ll strengthen you when your faith grows weak –
This place on your shelf is a prison cell,
Let me come into your mind to dwell!”


Who Shall We Then Read?


Who Should We Then Read?

Photo via Amazon

A couple of years ago I  bought “Who Should We Then Read?” vol 1 and  vol 2 by Jan Bloom from Amazon – noticing that one dealer was BooksBloom and was located in MO.  I ordered from that dealer and thinking it would get here quicker. A few minutes later I received an email from the author who asked if I had noticed we are from the same town inviting me to pickup the books at her house, and she would refund my shipping money.  

I went over to her house – talk about instant gratification on order fulfillment  (lol) – and got to meet Jan Bloom…she was very gracious and interesting!  (I found another person who has a map above the kitchen table and has bookcases all over the house…literally…and I was drooling over the one bookcase full of titles I could read…all books that are recommended here and ohhhh…how about their inventory…I volunteered to get lost in there – LOL)  She and her husband travel to the conventions and sell the OOP / living books CMer’s all want.  She generously offered to help find my list of hard to find books if I would email it to her…how cool is that??  I no longer feel so alone in my CM venture here.  

I asked if I could share her advice on obtaining these books and she was happy to agree.  Most of us talk about ordering from Amazon, but she suggested that we use the search engine to find these books. She says that it searches over 40 places, and suggested that we would find much better prices for our books. I wanted to share that since it may save us all money and a headache!  She made my weekend! LOL

So – if you have made it this far – I’ll tell you about the actual book and why I think that it is a valuable resource to own.

The biographies are helpful AND it is fun to “get to know” an author as a person – what they did, what some of their experiences were, how they believed, even about their families make them real. Then they really start to become “friends.” Knowing the name of a “safe” author is important because if you know the name, the world opens up when you are in a book-buying time.

Who Should We Then Read? Volume 2

photo via  Amazon

As for how Jan’s books are organized:

There is a section containing such things as the acknowledgements,  the table of contents, introduction, where to find great books, the care and repair of books, a guide to resourses about authors, biographical resources and alphabetical author information (including the page number of each individual author biography).

Then it moves into a history overview and teaches you about choosing books based on the sources, the stories and the secrets (what really mattered?), history storytellers, with a short list of excellent writers. She does the same thing with biographies and fiction.

On page 29 she lists reading level suggestions by author for beginning readers to advanced readers and includes lists of series for each, including a variety of genres. VERY COOL since that allows you to find books to interest the picky reader.

From page 36 to page 263, Jan writes about 140+ authors. First she lists everything they wrote and published, listing it in series or other categories such as juvenile fiction, poetry, biography, etc. At the end of the list she does a brief biography of the author.

From page 264-340, she lists the books in series such as Childhood of Famous Americans, Landmark, American Heritage, Cornerstones of Freedom, Newberry Award, and so many more.

At the end of page 340, she has her bibliography.

This book is a real treasure! But Jan didn’t stop there – she wrote “Who Should We Then Read? Volume 2” as well. Volume 2 contains 155 new authors and book lists.  I highly recommend these because they have contain lists of 300 safe authors which translates to thousands of good living books, not just lists of specific books to read!

Here is a link to her first volume:

And here is a link to the second volume:

The Lost Purse

 The Lost Purse

By Edgar A. Guest

I remember the excitement and the terrible alarm
That worried everybody when William broke his arm;
An’ how frantic Pa and Ma got only jes’ the other day
When they couldn’t find the baby coz he’d up an’ walked away;
But I’m sure there’s no excitement that our house has ever shook
Like the times Ma can’t remember where she’s put her pocketbook.

When the laundry man is standin’ at the door an’ wants his pay
Ma hurries in to get it, an’ the fun starts right away.
She hustles to the sideboard, coz she knows exactly where
She can put her hand right on it, but alas! it isn’t there.
She tries the parlor table an’ she goes upstairs to look,
An’ once more she can’t remember where she put her pocketbook.

She tells us that she had it just a half an hour ago,
An’ now she cannot find it though she’s hunted high and low;
She’s searched the kitchen cupboard an’ the bureau drawers upstairs,
An’ it’s not behind the sofa nor beneath the parlor chairs.
She makes us kids get busy searching every little nook,
An’ this time says she’s certain that she’s lost her pocketbook.

She calls Pa at the office an’ he laughs I guess, for then
She always mumbles something ’bout the heartlessness of men.
She calls to mind a peddler who came to the kitchen door,
An’ she’s certain from his whiskers an’ the shabby clothes he wore
An’ his dirty shirt an’ collar that he must have been a crook,
An’ she’s positive that feller came and got her pocketbook.

But at last she allus finds it in some queer an’ funny spot,
Where she’d put it in a hurry, an’ had somehow clean forgot;
An’ she heaves a sigh of gladness, an’ she says, “Well, I declare,
I would take an oath this minute that I never put it there.”
An’ we’re peaceable an’ quiet till next time Ma goes to look
An’ finds she can’t remember where she put her pocketbook.

We read this today and had a good laugh. Jitterbug said it made her want to write a poem about my lost keys that we found hanging from the key ring in my mouth after searching the car for them.  =}

Do you know Mr. Nobody, too?? ;)

Mr. Nobody

I know a funny little man,
    As quiet as a mouse,
Who does the mischief that is done
    In everybody’s house!
There’s no one ever sees his face,
    And yet we all agree
That every plate we break was cracked
    By Mr. Nobody.
’Tis he who always tears out books,
    Who leaves the door ajar,
He pulls the buttons from our shirts,
    And scatters pins afar;
That squeaking door will always squeak,
    For prithee, don’t you see,
We leave the oiling to be done
    By Mr. Nobody.
The finger marks upon the door
    By none of us are made;
We never leave the blinds unclosed,
    To let the curtains fade.
The ink we never spill;   the boots
    That lying round you see
Are not our boots,—they all belong
    To Mr. Nobody.
~ Anonymous
(from Favorite Poems of Children)

How Firm a Foundation

Faith is the key to everything.

We talked about faith in Relief Society today and discussed Hebrews 11 and Alma 32.  Several sweet sisters shared some of their faith building moments.  Then at the last, we changed the closing hymn to this one.  I love this hymn – I have for years.  But it has been a while since I really read the words.  They are uplifting, encouraging, and wonderful.  I hope they bring you the same sense of peace and comfort they did me.

How Firm A Foundation

How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
Who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior,
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs shall they still, like lambs shall they still,
Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

Text: Attr. to Robert Keen, ca. 1787. Included in the first LDS hymnbook, 1835.

 Hymns, How Firm a Foundation, no. 85