poetry tea time set-up

The Joy of Poetry Teatime in our Homeschool

Let me begin by saying that I enjoy poetry, always have.  I like the word play.  I like that there’s poetic license, which to me was a free pass to play with words and sounds and layout.  When my children were very young, I read them poems.  I found picture books that heavily illustrated poems, such as Block City by Robert Louis Stevenson and Daniel Kirk.    So, when I read about Poetry Teatime on the BraveWriter site, bells and whistles went off for me.

What I love about Poetry Teatime is that it’s more than just the poetry.  We set the stage, we’re about to make something extraordinary, but with minimal preparation.  And my children love it. 

Typically, we have poetry teatime at our dining table.  Someone chooses a table cloth.  I should say someone chooses a table covering.  We have used special table cloths from the dollar store.  We’ve used sheets with characters or designs.  We’ve used unfinished material.  We’ve used blankets spread on the grass. Anything that brings interest or inspires is welcome.

Next is the centerpiece.  We take turns in choosing a centerpiece.  We’ve had flowers cut from outside and arranged by one of the kids.  We’ve used Stormtrooper helmets from costumes.  Stuffed animals have made an appearance at our table.  We enjoy using candles out to set the mood.

We then set out our poetry books.  They cover a wide range from the traditional poets to nursery rhymes, as well as poems that we write ourselves.  The difficulty of the poems has a broad range as well. 

The table is set sometimes with paper plates, at other times with our best dishes which are typically used for special occasions.

Then there are the teacups or mugs.  We seem to have gathered a collection of unusual ones, and everyone tends to gravitate toward a particular cup.  They are usually filled with milk or water, we don’t strictly stick to the tea part of teatime.

Finally, we set out the treats.  This is pretty open territory as well.  We’ve done a brunch poetry teatime with bagels and fresh fruit.  If we’ve baked that day, we’re usually inspired to host a poetry teatime to share with everyone.  It’s pretty much whatever brings delight, and that looks good on a platter.

Everyone sits with their cups and treats and looks through the books of poems searching for the one that will evoke the reaction of their choosing, or whose topic is appealing that day.  There are no wrong choices here.  We’ve shared teas with nursery rhymes, Robert Frost, odes to mythology and reflections on architecture in one sitting.  We’ve had poems read with a sly smirk to get under parents’ skins. We even read poems that teach.  It’s wonderful to see what everyone chooses.  Sometimes there’s a particular poem that someone chooses to share each time we read, and then there’s that day when the poem can’t be found so the person recites it for us all.  Many surprises occur during this time, and it’s wonderful.

We try to have a set day for poetry teatime so that it doesn’t get lost in other activities.  But it’s not restricted to that day.  I’ve called for poetry teatime on days when everyone’s grumpy and we’re not available for learning.  We’ve had it on days too nice to be stuck inside. Did I mention after we’ve done some baking? Sometimes it inspires the baking! 

Poetry Teatime feeds the imagination in so many ways. 

Do you have Poetry Teatime in your home?  Do you have any special rituals associated with it?  What’s your favorite part about Poetry Teatime?

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