Review or Forget: the Poetry Jar

Teaching scripture and poetry to children is one of the simplest ways to instill truth, expand their minds and vocabulary, and increase their appreciation for the beauty of language.

Children memorize at an almost alarming rate. I want to take advantage of this ability while they’re little.

My goal is to teach them one Scripture passage and one poem a month, followed by a “poetry night” where we make special food and they get to recite for Joshua. [The word “goal” is important here. I think we spent all winter while we fought one sickness after another learning the Apostles’ Creed.]

The problem with memorization is, if you don’t keep reviewing, you’re almost guaranteed to forget. 

After teaching the children a poem until they could recite it flawlessly, only to have them stumbling over the first line a month later, I knew something had to change.

That’s where the poetry jar comes in. After we learn a new passage or poem, the title goes into the poetry mug. Each school day, the children get to pick a slip of paper and recite the passage they picked.

There’s something about the element of suspense that makes them just love our review time. Now we’re not spending time learning new poetry only to have them forget what we already learned.

If you want to start teaching your little ones poetry but don’t know where to start, here are the poems we’ve started with for Rose (5) and Will (3):

The Caterpillar, by Chistina Rossetti
Nothing Gold Can Stay, by Robert Frost
Poem 56 (The Pedigree of Honey), by Emily Dickinson (I was reading poetry aloud to them and they thought this one was so hilarious–though they certainly didn’t get it— that we simply had to memorize it.)
A Child of Royal Birth, by Anna Johnson (only the first stanza)
A Purple Cow, by Gelett Burgess

My friend Jenn, from The Purposeful Mom, compiled a lovely resource for Scripture Memory, God’s Word in My Heart.

What are your favorite kids’ poems? 

Linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeEncourage One AnotherWalking Redeemed, Our Simple Country Life, & Proverbs 31

[Full disclosure: Links to products in this post are my referral links.]

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  1. Theresa says

    What a fun idea! We have a journal jar that has journal prompts on them. The anticipation of seeing what they get keeps them interested in writing in their journal. Some of the ideas are pretty standard like, “what I did ___________ (last summer, over vaction, etc.). Some ideas are a bit wacky like, “Describe what happened when your mom started a fire in the kitchen.” I googled journal prompts and got a list of them.

    I really like the idea of your poetry jar – and think it would work good for our Scripture memorization review. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  2. says

    Great ideas, Anna! I was just thinking last night that I need to get my kids started on some poetry. Thanks for mentioning my ebook too, you are such a sweet friend.

    • anna says

      Of course! 🙂

      It’s been really fun for the kids doing poetry and Scripture at the same time. 🙂

  3. says

    Thanks for the poetry suggestions! My girls would absolutely love to do this, and I had never thought of incorporating poetry into memorization with Scripture. I think my favorite poem as a child was “The Owl and the Pussy Cat.” It was rather silly, so if I looked at it today as an adult, I might not be as impressed, but I know my sister and I had a lot of giggle time quoting it to each other in bed (after light’s out… yikes!) = )

  4. says

    I still love memorizing poems! And I can still remember one of the first poems I memorized as a child.
    “A birdie with a yellow bill
    hopped upon the window sill
    cocked his shining eye and said
    ‘Ain’t you shamed you sleepyhead?'”

    You should try “The Yak” and “The Swing” and “My Shadow” and I could go on and on. 🙂 I love your review idea. Makes things much more fun. 🙂

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