Rather than filling children’s minds with empty screen time, a key to the thoughtful use of technology is integrating it into everyday learning situations in a way that enhances activities. Since poetry is a very thoughtful form of writing, and April just happens to be National Poetry Month, let’s explore some apps that can engage children in poetry through the use of technology. All of these apps are free (hooray!), and each approaches poetry differently. “Appy” Poetry month!
Instant Poetry 2 is an app which enables users to place refrigerator word “magnets” to create poetry. Although the app comes loaded with scenic backgrounds, a perfect way to utilize this app in a thoughtful way is to have children use their device to take their own pictures and find their inspiration in the world around them. Scroll through the word options and make meaning from the random choices. You may be surprised what images spark poetic stimulation, and how the words take the poems in their own direction.
My daughter loves to rhyme, and we play rhyming games frequently. Inevitably we get stumped, especially by her favorite color, not much rhymes with purple. Poetreat is an excellent app for focusing on rhyme and rhyme scheme, it even counts syllables for you! A side bar menu allows users to design their own rhyme pattern and the app offers a list of rhyme suggestions for final words in a line. Try using this app for collaborative poetry with a group of children. Set the rhyme scheme and have one child craft a first line of the poem. Then pass the device to the next child. They can create the second line based on the rhyme options presented by the app. This could lead to a poem that is creative, clever, and perhaps a little bit crazy! Another project with this app is to give children a short list of 5-10 words, perhaps seasonal, dealing with a unit of study, or a child’s current interest, then using the rhyme scheme and rhyme suggestions the child can create a poem on the given topic. Once the poem is written, brainstorm ways to creatively publish the final product.
As a classroom teacher, one thing I loved watching every year was when the English teacher on my team had students recite poetry. In a world of standardized tests, a classical learning experience like this may seem to be a lost art, but there are so many benefits. Children not only are exposed to exquisite words, but they learn to focus on rhythm, tone, meaning, and composure when speaking to an audience. Poems By Heart is the perfect app for memorizing poems. It comes preloaded with poems, and other “volumes” can be purchased. I especially like that you can hear the poem being read, then practice with filling in the blanks of the words. My favorite aspect of this app is that children can record themselves practicing their poetry recitation. There is something very powerful about hearing your own voice and learning from what you hear.
Poetry and technology may seem an odd couple, artistic versus mechanical. But, when thoughtfully combined, technology can allow children to creatively express themselves through poetry.