I have had a slew of questions over Poetry Tea Time the past couple of weeks! One friend even declared me to be “an inspiration.” Well, that might be stretching the truth quite a bit too far. I’m no inspiration but I am passionate about how I spend life with my kids. I have cried (and so have my children) over some of our home education experiences. Bitter, bitter tears. My days with my children are short and far too precious to spend slaving over public school style workbooks. No more!
Over the past few months I have been slowly adding elements of the Brave Writer Lifestyle into our home (not just our school). Poetry Teatime is just one of those many elements. Brave Writer is a writing curriculum (but so much more than a curriculum) created by Julie Bogart (this link will take you to her Katch page). The company website is huge and overwhelming. I ran away screaming the first couple of times I landed there! My advice is to approach the program as you would fine wine or divine chocolate-sips and nibbles (with the kids tucked in bed!). Listening to a few of her scopes on Katch will be
enlightening and help you to navigate the website. I recommend Time for Tea and Poetry, In Defense of the Disillusioned, Brain Based Learning parts 1&2, Enchanted Homeschooling, and…everything on the page!
Anyway, on to my approach to Poetry Teatime…
My kids love our Poetry Teatime. Even Littlest will choose a book and poems for reading and listen to everyone else read poems. My oldest has even shared his own limerick and haikus with us! He has gone from hating poetry (thanks to workbooks) to creating his own poetry! This week he even set the table for tea time. Okay, to be honest he did use a curtain for the table-cloth but I am thrilled with his newfound enthusiasm.
Our teatime used to be around 2:00 in the afternoon on Tuesday. I would usually make a home-made treat of some sort and the kids would have something special to drink in the teapot (except for tea). We always use the teapot (except for during the move) and teacups. I do let Littlest choose between using a sippy cup or a tea cup…he’s been known to choose both at once!
So what’s in the teapot? Warm Maple Cinnamon Milk. My grandmother would make this treat on Christmas morning. Just warm some milk (but do not let it boil!). Add cinnamon and maple syrup to suit your own taste. Super easy! My grandmother never measured ingredients and I usually do not either. My teapot holds about eight cups. I estimate that I use about half a teaspoon of cinnamon and about three tablespoons of maple syrup.
This past Tuesday I moved our tea time to breakfast. I loved seeing their faces as they came into the kitchen! They were delighted! Sparkles helped me serve breakfast, Middle Boy tackled the dishes, Oldest set the table and Littlest bounced around underfoot. The morning was glorious! We piled our plates with pumpkin waffles, brown butter syrup, and sausage. Once everyone settled into place Oldest lit the candle and we ate together. This time Middle Boy started reading poetry aloud since he finished eating first. I used to have to call on them to share poetry but it just happens organically now. We share poems we like, that leave us puzzled or sad, make us laugh, and occasionally even dislike. Sometimes we discuss the poem and sometimes not. I even cry sometimes and then one of the kids will take over for me.
We use a variety of poetry books. The kids love Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss. We’ve read poetry from the Bible and the Tao Te Ching. Mother Goose and nursery rhymes. Jesse Stuart and Robert Frost. Song lyrics from the radio. I’ve even found poetry inspired by Doctor Who and Legos.
Once the kids started enjoying poetry I introduced Shakespeare into our poetry time. They were not sure they would like Shakespeare at first but since it was just once a week during tea time they were open to the idea. First, I read a short biography and then we started with Tales from Shakespeare by Charles Lamb. Later, we re-watched the Doctor Who episode with Shakespeare. Now that they are hooked I moved Shakespeare to our daily read aloud time…and no one complained!
At the end of our freewrite cycle (which is every ten weeks) I’ll have the kids select a poem for copywork and art. They’ll spend about fifteen minutes a day writing out their chosen poem in their best handwriting. Once the writing is complete they spend the rest of the week illustrating the page. I usually play some calm classical music in the background. It helps them to focus quietly…and I can call it music appreciation too.
For now, this is what poetry tea time looks like in our home. I’m sure it will grow and change over seasons in this homeschooling journey.