Tag Archives: poetry tea

How we do Poetry Teatime

Poetry tea

Poetry teatime is my absolute favourite part of the Brave Writer lifestyle.

We enjoyed one this morning.  Here’s what we did.

Setting the scene

I lit a candle and put a posy of summer flowers as a centrepiece. Often we gather flowers from the garden. Today I grabbed the fake flowers that normally live in our downstairs loo!

Food and drink

This morning’s poetry teatime was mid-morning, so I set out raspberries, cherries, blueberries and brioches. I made cocoa for the children, and tea for me.

Choosing poems

Everyone chooses their poems beforehand. They can take as much or as little time as they like over this. There are no rules.

J(8) almost always chooses poems from The Puffin Book of Utterly Brilliant Poetry.  Today he said he was going to make up one of his poems – “I’ve got the first line, I’m just playing with the rest in my head.”

C(9) spent much of last term writing out poems for copywork. She chose to read a few of these.

I selected a few short, funny poems from Read Me And Laugh.

Poetry Tea

Poetry teatime

Poetry teatime usually kicks off with the children commenting appreciatively on how good the table looks (apparently it’s a rare thing!). Then we tuck into food and poems, taking turns around the table to read.

Both my kids adore reading poems aloud; they do it with gusto. For J(8), especially, this is an excellent opportunity – his desire to entertain completely overcomes his reading difficulties, and he amazes us with his fluency!

poetry tea

Reflections on poetry teatime


I love these lines from Tennyson’s Morte d’Arthur:

The old order changeth, yielding place to new,

And God fulfils himself in many ways,

Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.

I memorised them for English O Level when I was fifteen, and I quote them frequently.

When I read The Well-Trained Mind, I loved the idea of my children happily committing long verses of classical poetry to memory.  That was before I realised that I’m not the kind of parent who can “require” my children to do things (even if that were possible).

But… I was so glad I’d learned the Tennyson. Would my children miss out, because of my non-insistence on memorisation, I wondered?

Over time, our poetry teas have given me the answer. Today, for example, J(8) announced that he was going to read one of his favourite poems – Sky In The Pie! by Roger McGough – “because I want to know it off by heart”.  My children can recite plenty of poems, and find dozens more by their first lines. Not because I made them, but for the sheer joy of it.

Poetry tea reading

Will they always choose “easy” poems?

Poetry teatime

I used to wonder, too, whether my children’s choice of poems would mature, without anyone prodding them on to more difficult works. Laughter helped them fall in love with poetry, but would they ever outgrow the limericks and short comedy verses that delighted them when they were six? (And did it matter, anyway?)

My answer to this question came quickly. For a year, we shared weekly poetry teatimes with a slightly older family. It was interesting to observe the poetry choices among the differently aged children. I noticed how the teenager tended to choose longer, more sophisticated works. And over time, I’ve begun to notice C(9) choosing more complex poems – though we all still love limericks.

As for me, I don’t go out of my way to choose poems to extend the children’s repertoire, but neither do I dumb down my choices.  I read long poems and short ones, funny poems and serious ones, straightforward and allegorical poems, poems about spring, or elephants, or war, depending on my mood. If a poem inspires me, my appreciation will speak for itself.

Our favourite poetry books

We were inspired to buy most of our favourite books by the friends who introduced us to poetry teatimes.

* The Puffin Book of Utterly Brilliant Poetry

* Read Me and Laugh – A Funny Poem for Every Day of the Year

* Sensational! – Poems Inspired by the Five Senses

* Great Poems – Compiled by Kate Miles

Read Me Out Loud – A Poem to Rap, Chant, Whisper or Shout for Every Day of the Year

I’d love to hear of any other recommendations you might have.

poetry teatime


To read how the other Homeschool Help bloggers teach poetry, visit:

Highhill Homeschool – Studying Poetry with Children – A Poem a Day

Barefoot Hippie Girl – Waxing Poetical

Hammock Tracks – Poetry – How and Why to Teach It

One Magnificent Obsession – Our First Poetry Smoothietime!

Homeschool Mother’s Journal – So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler

poetry teatime

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This post is linked up here:

Hip Homeschool Hop – 08/27/13

Entertaining and Educational – Highhill Homeschool

Collage Friday – Homegrown Learners

TGIF Linky Party #92

Weekly Wrap Up – Weird Unsocialised Homeschoolers

Homeschool Mother’s Journal {September 7, 2013}

Share it Saturday – Teach Beside Me

All Things Thursday Blog Hop {No. 9}

midsummer poetry at navigating by joy homeschoolers

Celebrating Midsummer with Poetry

midsummer poetry at navigating by joy homeschoolers

Midsummer’s Night  is my favourite night of the whole year.  I don’t much like holidays or even birthdays, when there’s pressure to do certain things.  But on Midsummer’s Night there are no expectations.

I feel a connection with the earth, and ancient people (of which I am, ironically, reminded when I see traffic signs warning of delays near Stonehenge!).

Once, before children, Big J and I celebrated Midsummer with an evening picnic in London’s Hyde Park (back in the days when Hyde Park was on our doorstep).  Most years I don’t actually do anything in particular on this day.  But I always enjoy marking the occasion in the quiet of my own mind.

Earlier this evening I put out our poetry books in preparation for poetry tea with friends tomorrow morning.  And I lit a sweet “Midsummer’s Night” candle I came across at the garden centre last week.

When C came home from her Stagecoach class she began looking through the poetry books as she ate her snack.  I joined her, and we ended up reading poems aloud to one another for a joyful half hour.

Completely spontaneous, loving, togetherness on my favourite day of the year.   [Deep, long,  blissful sigh of contentment and appreciation.]  🙂

Poetry Tea

I love poems, and reading  poetry aloud with children brings it alive in a way it hasn’t been since I used to read “Daddy Fell into the Pond” to my little sister when I was a child.

Last week we were excited to receive our own copy of The Puffin Book Of Utterly Brilliant Poetry, which in the past we’ve enjoyed at poetry teas with friends.  The book was passed between C and J on most of our car journeys last week as I was entertained by one classic poem after another.  (Brian Patten’s “The Race To Go To Sleep” was read about every five minutes!)

Then an email yesterday from  Brave Writer’s Julie – the clever inventor of poetry tea! – reminding readers of its benefits, could not have come at a better time. We’ve spent the last week reeling from one theme park to another, making the most of our annual passes while the parks are empty enough for the children to go on their favourite rollercoasters 28 times in a row (I know. Really. But what did I expect from the progeny of two people who spent their honeymoon in Disneyworld?)  Anyway, all those topsy turvy days left us a bit out of our usual routine, so poetry tea – complete with home-baked cookies and hot chocolate – was the perfect way to get back into our groove.

Sure enough, several delightful poems later, the children seamlessly moved onto creating their own poems.  I love the process of typing as they dictate – it really frees them up to be in the flow of their words without worrying about handwriting, spelling or punctuation (all of which we work on at a different time).


And having seen how quickly words can be got down on a computer keyboard (as I toggled between two open documents, one for each child’s poems), C and J were eager to move onto the next thing on our schedule – touch-typing!

I got the teatowel tip from friends from C and J's old school - isn't it a great idea?

Crocs, Rugby And Poetry Tea

Busy days, and things to mull over which have also been occupying my head space leaving no room for blogging.  So for today mainly photos and a little about what we’ve been doing.

Last year we hardly ate in the garden at all.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe life was too busy when our weekdays were dominated by school runs and after-school activities, or maybe we just never got into the habit because we didn’t have this gorgeous early spring sunshine and then we got our fix of al fresco dining down at the coast.  This year I intend to eat outside a lot.  We started on Friday 🙂

We even did a bit of maths outside.

On Saturday I had to get up really early to be down at the beach house by 8am for a gas meter safety inspection they wouldn’t let me postpone any longer.  Just as well I’d been practising all week!  I spent the morning sunbathing on the balcony, portable doorbell in my hand.  As it turned out, the appointment had accidentally been cancelled by the gas company so at 1pm I reluctantly left my sunny spot, said hello to the beach

and drove back.  Via the cheap village croc shop (yay, it’s time to replace the wellies by the back door with crocs!)  Radio 2 was playing the top 20 songs from 1991 (my final year at uni) which I had on VERY loudly in the car.  By the time I got home I was totally energised, despite my super-early start, and didn’t feel in the least that my day had been wasted even though the appointment had been cancelled.  In fact, I might schedule a few more solo trips like that!

C was playing in a rugby tournament on Sunday so I took J shopping for some new summer clothes.  I’m certainly not what you’d call a shopaholic but I do like to go round the shops now and again, and I’m finding I really have to squeeze it in where I can now we’re full-time homeschooling.  J didn’t mind where he was as long as he could play on his DS and visit the Apple store, but he was disappointed that the iPad’s had all been replaced with the new iPad 2, none of which had Angry Birds installed  (apparently mine is not the same as he hasn’t completed “all the levels”!)

C’s team won the tournament, which was against all the other U7 teams in our county, so she was pretty chuffed (and exhausted!)

Today was pretty low-key.  There was sponge-painting.

And we made gingerbread cakes to take to poetry tea at Gaynor’s.  This time I followed the recipe and added the finishing touch of chopped stem ginger on top of the lemon icing.  They do look a bit fancier.

The actual poetry tea was completely delightful.  Being welcomed at a beautiful ritual our friends have been enjoying for several years and which I have read about on Gaynor’s blog felt like stepping into a real life movie!  The photo was hastily snapped (I think I didn’t want to look too touristy, or something ;-)) but shows the lovely cake stand centrepiece, and the teapot, of  course.  Lots of inspiration there.

J read “Algy And The Bear” (Anon) from The Puffin Book of Fantastic First Poems.  He wants to have poetry tea every day now!  C’s poem was from the same book. I was going to read Marriott Wallace’s Albert And The Lion but when it turned out that our hosts were all familiar with that poem but not its sequel, Albert’s Return, I switched.  It’s a long one and I was a bit self-conscious about attempting a northern English dialect in public but according to Wikipedia, “Marriott Wallace should be read in a northern accent”, so I felt it was my duty, and it really was a very relaxed kind of tea.

We rounded off today visiting my sister-in-law and gorgeous nephew T, who has grown enormously in the six weeks since we last visited.

Seeing him kick his legs with joy and laugh out loud over and over was so lovely; babies really are so connected to their wellbeing.  Noticing how much he’s developed since he was born in November reminded me of one of the reasons I was inspired to start this blog – to honour the miracle that is the first months and years of life, and indeed all life.  I’m proud of me, too 🙂

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