In this lesson, students read and perform poetry with a partner. Using the brilliant work of Mary Ann Hoberman, poetry is interactive, fun, and engaging. You can use this lesson with very little preparation except a few color copies and have the kids begging for more! When poetry is shared with a friend, it’s irresistible.
Together with a partner, each student will prepare and perform one of Mary Ann Hoberman’s poems for two voices. (AASL 1.2.3, “Demonstrate creativity by using multiple resources and formats.”)
Students will choose and prepare one of Mary Ann Hoberman’s poems for two voices. They will then perform this poem with their partner for the class.
Remind your students that they have been studying poetry and painting with words. Today, they will get to work with the poetry of a very famous poet, Mary Ann Hoberman. Mary Ann Hoberman is an elderly woman now, but she has been writing poetry for a very long time. In fact, she was even a U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate!
Show the students one of the photocopies. Explain how each poem is written for two voices and uses three colors. One color, often purple, is for the first reader. The second color, sometimes pink or orange, is for the second reader. The blue color is used when both voices should read together.
If you can, project one of the poems on a large screen. Have half of the class read the first voice, and the other half of the class read the second voice. Read the combined parts together. Check for understanding and make sure that each student understands how the poems are structured.
Pair students. I like to give children the chance to choose their own partners, but they should be encouraged to make choices consistent with their teacher’s instructions.
Ask each student to pick up a poem from the poem stack. Make sure that all the poems you photocopy are different so that every partner group is working on a different poem. I like to have a few extra photocopies of different poems so that the kids can switch if they don’t like the one they chose, if it is too difficult, or if they have time to prepare two. Give the students about 15 minutes to practice together. Encourage them to practice reading the poem with feeling and emotion. Remind them to use this time to find out what the words mean, how to get their timing in sync, and how to read so that it sounds like one, seamless poem. If you can round up an assistant or volunteer to help coach some of the groups, that would be helpful.
When about 15 minutes are remaining in the lesson time, pull the kids back together and ask pairs to perform their poems. Ask for those who would like to present, and request that the others be good listeners. Go through as many performances as you can during the remaining time.
Take photos or videos for the students’ digital portfolios, if applicable.
Encourage the children to keep learning about and reading poetry. Because poetry is beautiful and powerful, they may want to continue inquiring into poetry and poets even after the unit wraps up. Thank them for their work and performances today. Arrange for some of the more articulate children to share a poem over the school’s loudspeaker or in the next assembly.
- Photocopies of some of the poems from the books listed below. You’ll need one photocopy for every two students, plus a few extras. The photocopies must be in color so that the children can tell their own part from their partner’s part. If you can’t make color copies, use highlighters and “color code” the copies.
- Texts from the “Recommended Books” section.
- Mary Ann Hoberman’s web site: https://www.maryannhoberman.com/
- Mary Ann Hoberman’s biography with The Poetry Foundation: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/mary-ann-hoberman
I have found that the Scary Tales book has the most challenging vocabulary. Words like “goblin,” “gremlin,” “demon,” “ghoul,” “ogre,” “zombie,” and “phantom” have proven challenging to a lot of my third graders. If you are worried about the difficulty or the cultural appropriateness of this material for your kids, save this one for Day of the Dead or Halloween.
The Tall Tales book has a definite Americana theme. So, if you are at an international school without a large population of students from the U.S., you may wish to pass on this one.
Recommended books for this lesson:
- You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Stories to Read Together by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Michael Emberley.
- Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Michael Emberley.
- Very Short Fables to Read Together by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Michael Emberley.
- Very Short Mother Goose Tales to Read Together by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Michael Emberley.
- Very Short Tall Tales to Read Together by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Michael Emberley.
- You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Scary Tales to Read Together by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Michael Emberley.
Poems, Poets, Poetry, Children’s Poetry, Mary Ann Hoberman, Choral Reading, Reader’s Theater