Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Using Poetry to Build Community Partnerships

  • Poetry Placemats
    Have children write poems about RIF or their favorite storybook characters on large sheets of paper. On the back of each decorated poster, attach a letter with information about RIF and how people can get involved in your program. Laminate each poster, and ask a neighborhood restaurant to use them as placemats during the month of April.

  • Gift of Poetry
    Have children write thank-you poems to RIF volunteers. Decorate or wrap each poem and give it to a community member who volunteered this year. (This is also a nice way to recognize volunteers during National Volunteer Week)

  • Poetry Contest
    Ask a bookstore or other retailer to sponsor a poetry contest for kids. Stores can donate gift certificates as prizes, or winners can participate in a poetry reading at the store.

  • Rhyming Bookmarks
    Ask kids to write short poems on strips of cardboard, and then decorate them. Laminate the strips if possible, and arrange to have them distributed at the public library or a bookstore (with a purchase).

  • Publish an Anthology
    Organize a poetry contest, in collaboration with your local newspaper, bookstore, or school paper. First prize could be to have the poem printed in the paper, or posted at the bookstore. All winning entries, including honorable mentions, could be included in an anthology produced by the sponsoring publisher, with a copy given to each contributing child, and copies given to local school and public libraries.

  • Poetry Cafe
    Hold a poetry slam (a performance competition for writers and readers of poetry), a poetry reading, or a discussion group in a local coffee shop or restaurant. Or transform a room at your RIF site into a caf and invite members of the community to attend and participate in the event.

  • Writing Poetry
    Kids sometimes have trouble getting started writing poems. Look for fresh idea-starters on www.gigglepoetry.comincluding fill-in-the-blank poems, and help writing nursery rhymes, limericks, and list poems. Look for lively tips for writing (or teaching) poetry provided by Jack Prelutsky, Karla Kuskin, and Jean Marzollo on www.teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/
    poetry/index.htm. And check out www.rif.org/educators/articles/poetry.mspx for more poetry resources including activities, booklists, information about poetry slams, and tips for exploring nursery rhymes and poetry with kids.

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