Poetry & Folktales: Reading for Fluency

This will be the last post in my reading genre series...tomorrow I'll post and answer all the FAQ's that have been emailed.  So, if you have any questions about teaching with reading genres go ahead and email them my way!

Today, I'm going to share some activities with poetry and folktales to wrap it all up!
During poetry, I have my poetry reading and writing units going on at the same time, so there's lots of integration happening. The focus with reading poetry is on building that fluency.  We read poems from everywhere, and as we read, students learn to "mark" their poems.  We'll use symbols to show when to pause, when to take a long break, when to read quietly, when to read louder, etc.  Then, students practice reading the marked poem with their whisper phones.  You've seen these, right?  You can buy expensive ones from teaching companies, or just do like I did, and buy some PVC piping from Lowe's for under $10 and make a class set {or, uh...get the hubby to make them for you!}  I spray painted them red, labeled them with numbers (I'm a bit of a germ-a-phobe so I wanted each student to use the same one throughout the year), placed them in ziploc bags and threw them in a large basket!
Some of my favorite books to read during poetry are the Alan Katz books that take familiar kids' songs and change them up.  They are hilarious and the students are able to pick up on the rhythm to help with their fluency.  What are your favorite poetry books?
Another favorite activity for poetry is The Great Poetry Race.  If you have not tried this with your students, I highly recommend it!!  I assign one poem on Monday and students read the poem to as many people as possible throughout the week and return it to school on Friday.  If they read it to at least 10 people, they earn a punch on their Great Poetry Punchcard.  Once they receive 10 punches, they earn a classroom coupon.  The student with the most reads each week earns a medal, a spot in the Wall of Fame, and a special reward (their favorites include read it to the principal and movie star reader where I video them reading the poem and the class watches it back...great way for them to see their own fluency!)  I'm telling ya, the difference between their fluency at the beginning of the week and the end of the week with this poem is AMAZING.  Some of my kids would get over 100 reads!  Click the image below (and then scroll down) to see this unit from Teacher's Clubhouse.
 As I said, while we're learning to read poems, students are also learning to write various styles of poems.  At the end of our unit, they publish these in a hardcover book.  These little books were purchased from Lintor Publishing through a grant I received - so simple to bind and look so professional.

For our C*E*L*E*B*R*A*T*I*O*N parents are invited to a poetry reading where students perform poems in groups and read their own poems independently.

We have 3 folktale units that we explore - Fables, Tall Tales, and Fairytales.  We begin the units by talking about what a folktale is - we play the "telephone game" (you know, where you pass a sentence around the circle and see how it changes) and relate this game to how folktales change as they are passed around.  We really keep focusing on fluency during these units, as students are becoming more comfortable at sharing in front of classmates at this point in the year.

For fables (and fairytales), I love to use the "You Read to Me, I'll Read to You" series of books.  PLEASE tell me you've seen these!  They are perfect for partners to share reading.  I just made copies of the fables from the book and used a highlighter to color their parts. 

I also wrote a grant that was funded (you know about Donors Choose, I'm sure!) to purchase fable puppet show scripts and puppets from The Creativity Institute.  I felt like I hit a goldmine when I found these, since fable books were always hard to locate!  Some of the fables are the well-known Aesop's fables we all know, but others are fables they have written.  It's great to expose students to these and have them figure out the morals.  And the puppets, they're REALLY well made - love 'em!   Our C*E*L*E*B*R*A*T*I*O*N for this unit is performing our puppet shows for another class!

Since students know a lot of the popular fairytales already, we focus on fairytales from other countries.  Students are able to delve into higher-level thinking as they compare these versions to the traditional versions.  We continue to work on fluency by using lots of Fractured Fairytale Readers Theaters.  Our C*E*L*E*B*R*A*T*I*O*N is performing these readers' theaters!  Although, I've A-L-W-A-Y-S wanted to hold a Fairytale Ball at the end of this unit!  Have any of you held one before?  Details please!

Ah....I love this genre!  The exaggeration, humor,  idioms...what's not to love?  This unit correlates directly with our U.S. Regions unit in social studies and we sure have fun learning about tall tale characters from all of the different regions!  Students usually read tall tales in literature circle groups, with each student having a role.  They are independent at this point in the year, and can work cooperatively and hold discussions.  We also perform readers theaters and tall tale plays!  We go all out for this C*E*L*E*B*R*A*T*I*O*N as we hold a Tall Tale Tea.  Parents are invited to our classroom.  Students perform a whole-class tall tale play, sing an adorable tall tale song, read their original TALL tale stories, and share their regions scrapbooks.

So, what's your favorite genre to teach?  What are your favorite genre activities?

Don't forget tomorrow is the LAST DAY to enter my 100 Follower Giveaway (Can you believe I'm over 200 before this giveaway has ended? Apparently, a week was too long...I'll know next time!).  The winner will be announced Saturday morning!


  1. I love all your end of unit celebrations. Those are so much fun. Also, I love Alan Katz. He actually came to our school 2 years ago and was a riot! The kids just loved him because he was so silly and fun.

    Thanks for all the great genre ideas. I'm especially excited because I already have many of these resources, now I just need to incorporate them. Hehe.

    The Teaching Thief

  2. I've helped with the great poetry race for 4th grade. At the end we had an ice cream party! I have also heard of the "I'll read to you..." series. I have one of their books, but more are on my wish list! Thank you for sharing your routine for teaching the genres. I'm going to have to refer back to these posts often througout the year!
    Where Seconds Count 2nd grade blog

  3. Wow how awesome! Very lucky students! I know my kiddos love to act but I felt like I just couldn't get it together! Thanks for the ideas!

    ❤ Sandra
    Sweet Times in First

  4. I have really enjoyed your reading genre series! It's given me so many great ideas, my wheels are turning. I'd like to try and do studies like this with my firsties this year!

    Falling Into First

  5. Wow, I just found your blog and I LOVE it! I think we think alike in a low of ways. So many great ideas. I will be student teaching this fall and will definitely be following you closely. I would love it if you would like to check out/follow my new blog, too.

    Happy Teaching!

    Chynna Hansen

  6. The Great Poetry Race is such a great idea! I love it and will need to add it to my reading for next year.

    Chickadee Jubilee

  7. I bought the poetry race at the end of the year and just never got to it. I'm glad I get to see it in action now! I love how you teach reading. I went by genres in 4th grade but haven't with my 2nd graders. Maybe this is the year!

  8. I love the Great Poetry Race!! :) I love that the "rewards" are easy and cheap for me to implement. Thanks for recommending it!

    Sweeties In Second

  9. How cool to have Alan Katz come to your school!! I've always thought he or Robert Munsch would be a hoot to have for an author visit! :)

  10. They have some of those You read to me I'll read to you books on bookcloseouts.com. Check back - they get new stuff all the time and they have great prices! These ones are hard cover and are $3.99 right now! They have a sale on - an extra 50% off kids fiction right now so it's an even better deal than it usually is!

  11. Rebecca, Thanks for that heads up! I just placed an order for several books from them! Woohoo! ;)

  12. I love to use poetry for fluency as well. I'm sure they love their Great Poetry Race-what a great way to motivate them!


  13. I LOVE Take Me Out of the Tub! It's such a great poetry book!

    By the way, I just wanted to let you know that I have chosen to award you The Lovely Blog award! Stop by my blog to pick it up and put it on your blog if you would like! :)

    Miss V's Busy Bees

  14. I love the idea of using the telephone game to introduce the concept of folktales being passed down by mouth. Please stop by and check out my blog. I am also a second grade teacher. :)



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