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A Collection of Poetry to Inspire Movement 

Allowing your students to move and dance with poetry makes the experience memorable while giving them the opportunity to make meaningful connections to the words on the page. Not only can this process of poetic movement support physical health, but it gives students another outlet to express themselves. The following poems can inspire interpretations by your students in the form of dance and movement.  

Poems for Dancing

Allow your students to move and groove as they recite this poem. Use this as an energizer in the morning or during the day as a break to re-energize!

Shake

Let's put on a smile,
and show how we shake.
Our sleepy body,
will suddenly wake.
But first we must choose,
a super cool song.
Jumping around,
will make our legs strong.
It's really easy,
to learn how to groove.
Just think of your next,
funny sweet move.
Ask all your friends,
to join in the fun.
Never stop shaking,
until the music is done.

(Source: tree.cards)

Nursery Rhyme Poems

We cannot forget classic memory exercises!  Use nursery rhymes to inspire movement in your classroom. Remember this one? 

I’m a Little Teapot

I’m a little teapot
Short and stout.
Here is my handle,
Here is my spout.
When I get all steamed up
Hear me shout:
Tip me over
And pour me out!
I’m a very special pot
This is true.
Here’s an example
Of what I can do.
I can change my handle
And my spout.
Tip me over
And pour me out!

Poems for Learning 

Need some help teaching your students about manners? Try poems like this one where they can learn, move, and recite important, respectful mannerisms. 

Learning by Judith Viorst 

I'm learning to say thank you.
And I'm learning to say please.
And I'm learning to use Kleenex,
Not my sweater, when I sneeze.
And I'm learning not to dribble.
And I'm learning not to slurp.
And I'm learning (though it sometimes really hurts me)
Not to burp.
And I'm learning to chew softer
When I eat corn on the cob.
And I'm learning that it's much
Much easier to be a slob.

Poems for Feelings

Emotional regulation is essential learning for  younger students. A way to encourage students to reflect and find the words to express themselves can be through poetry and actions. 

“I Use My Words” by Jaymie Gerard

Goodness, I am ANGRY

It makes me want to SHOUT

And STOMP and WEAR A MEAN FACE

To let the ANGER out

Instead I USE MY WORDS to say

WHAT I AM MAD ABOUT


Goodness, I am
sad today

It makes me want to cry

And pout and whine and whimper

And sniffle, sob and sigh

Instead I use my words

To tell everybody why

 

Goodness, I am happy!

It makes me want to run

And go wild and act all crazy

Until the day is done

Instead I use my words ‘cause that way

We can ALL have fun!

 

When my FEELINGS get too STRONG

I know it’s time to say,

“I’ll USE MY WORDS to show how I feel

In a SAFE and HEALTHY way”

Indigenous Poetry

Ways of honouring the land we reside on is through reading Indigenous poetry. Encourage your students to respectfully interpret the feelings and meaning behind poetry by Indigenous authors by using their bodies to do so. 

Carrying our Worlds by Ofelia Zepeda

We travel carrying our words.

We arrive at the ocean.

With our words we are able to speak

of the sounds of thunderous waves.

We speak of how majestic it is,

of the ocean power that gifts us songs.

We sing of our respect

and call it our relative.

’U’a g T-ñi’okı˘

(O’odham)


T-ñi’okı˘ ’att ’an o ’u’akc o hihi

Am ka:ck wui dada.

S-ap ‘am o ’a: mo has ma:s g kiod.

mat ’am ’ed.a betank ’i-gei.

’Am o ’a: mo he’es ’i-ge’ej,

mo hascu wud.  i:da gewkdagaj

mac ’ab amjed.  behě g ñe’i.

Hemhoa s-ap ‘am o ’a: mac si has elid, mo d.  ’i:mig.

Music as Poetry

Pick your favourite song for students to move to, by learning the words as if reciting a poem! Then, put the music, and move and dance together for a fun classroom activity! 

Twist and Shout by Bert Berns

Well shake it up baby now
(Shake it up baby)
Twist and shout
(Twist and shout)
C'mon c'mon c'mon c'mon baby now
(C'mon baby)
C'mon and work it on out
(Work it on out)


Well work it on out honey
(Work it on out)
You know you look so good
(You look so good)
You know you got me goin' now
(Got me goin')
Just like I knew you would
(Like I knew you would)

Poems for Social Justice/Black History

Encourage learning about the history of the oppressed. Choose poems centered around social justice or the experience of the oppressed. Ask students to respectfully interpret the words and feelings through their bodies to make connections and learn about the historical significance.

Stanza from Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.


Guest Writer: Oendrila Banerjee attended Western University in London, Ontario, where she completed her Bachelor of Musical Arts with a major in Music and a minor in English. She went on to complete a two year teacher education program at Western, graduating in June 2020 with a Bachelor of Education. Oendrila currently teaches English as a Second Language while also writing and finding every opportunity to be creative. She enjoys storytelling and learning about the stories of others. In her free time she likes to be as creative as possible, which includes DIY projects. In addition, Oendrila has been creating graphics and content for Embodied Learnings since November 2020. She combines her passion for art and design with education to bring resources to fellow teachers. In the process, Oendrila is learning how to be a better educator and content creator.

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