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I have shared my love of the Brave Writer program before. We have used it for a few years and have no plans to stop. Brave Writer encourages parents to support a lifestyle rich with reading and writing.
One of the ways we do that is by having tea with poetry.
At it most basic elements, tea with poetry is just a small tea party while reading poetry. It is exactly as it sounds.
I first heard about the idea of tea with poetry from Julie Bogart when she spoke at the VA Homeschoolers Conference a few years ago. I was intrigued, but skeptical.
Would my rambunctious little boy really sit still to listen to poetry?
It turns out, yes!
Ben is like most little boys and will follow the food. If there is food involved, he is there. Cookies, fruit, and other tea party fare keep him at the table. He listens to the poetry while eating.
How to host Tea with Poetry
Decide who to invite
Will this tea party be just for my family or will we invite a few friends? I usually keep it simple and host the tea party just for my own children. They are always welcome to include their neighborhood friends though.
Select a day and time and put it in your planner
I take a look at my calendar and try to find a chunk of free time. I don’t really need more than an hour for the tea, but I don’t want to rush. Tea time is a time to relax and unwind. I can’t do that if I am watching the clock.
I like to check the weather report each week when I’m mapping out my lesson plans. If I see a gray rainy day where we don’t need to leave the house, I schedule a tea with poetry.
You can always skip this step if you always have tea, treats, and poetry books on hand.
Set the table (or picnic blanket!)
I like to make tea with poetry feel special so I usually set the dining room table. A tablecloth, fancy china, and flowers create an air of excitement. The kids know that reading must be important and special if I am willing to create more dirty laundry and dishes! In reality those things really don’t take much time, but I don’t do them every day so they are special.
Sometimes though, the weather is too gorgeous to be inside. Days like that, we pack a picnic basket and head outdoors.
Prepare a few treats
This can be as simple or complex as your taste buds and time allow. We follow a paleo diet most of the time so I make the majority of our treats. To save time I freeze batches of raw cookie dough scooped into single cookie portions. I just bake the treats a few extra minutes.
Sometimes I buy snacks if I don’t have time to bake. Visiting a local bakery is a fun outing before the tea party. Don’t let perfection stand in your way. I would rather have tea time with store-bought cookies than no tea time at all!
A few examples of tea time treats are:
- banana bread
- scones with whipped cream
- fresh fruit
- mini sandwiches
I assembled a small basket with a variety of teas that I keep on the table during tea time.
Have a few poetry books available
You will need to consider your own personal audience when choosing poetry. Poems that I would read to a table full of preschoolers are very different from books I would read with high school students.
Most used book stores have a shelf full of children’s poetry compilations. Compilations are a great place to start because they tend to have many short poems. The poems were written for a child audience so they are easily understood.
We do read compilations, but I like to expose my kids to famous poets too. We have read poems by Robert Frost, Edgar Allen Poe, and Rudyard Kipling. These poems are not written for children so they are a bit harder to comprehend. We read and discuss a few harder poems and then enjoy a few silly poems. Shel Silverstein is great for silly poems.
I think the point of tea with poetry is to create positive associations with reading.
Realistically, those associations could be done with any book. We read a lot of fiction with our reading program. Nonfiction and biographies are natural fits with social studies and science curricula. Tea with poetry gives me an opportunity to expose my kids to good poetry, something we might not otherwise find time for in our busy schedule.
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