Poetry Friday: Using friends’ children’s poetry books in the (home school) classroom

If I told you what a tough year it’s been for us…you’d probably have an even tougher story.

Things have been tough all over, as they say.

Our kitchen table – err, classroom

Here, our two kids started off the school year doing remote schooling, but between computer glitches, hard-to-find links, and an inordinate amount of unhealthy screen time (3 hours for school doesn’t allow for any TV or game time), it was just not working out.

So my wife and I decided to bite the bullet and go full-blown home school. Fortunately for us, here in New Hampshire, there are absolutely no requirements for people who home school their kids; as long as students know what they need to know at the end of the year, in order to move on to the next grade, what we do between now and then is completely up to us.

So we purchased two Saxon Math programs, two ELA courses, and an American history course, and figured we could fill in the rest. What was most important was that we had the “big” courses in hand, structured and focused, so nothing would slip through the cracks.

What has been fun, has been supplementing all this with poetry!

© 2019 Disney-Hyperion, all rights reserved

How lucky am I to have so many friends’ poetry collections?? Whether it’s Marilyn Singer’s Who Named Their Pony Macaroni? (Disney-Hyperion, 2019), Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s Forest Has a Song (Clarion Books, 2013), or Leslie Bulion’s Hey There, Stink Bug! (Charlesbridge, 2008), we had plenty of subjects from which to choose. I created question-and-answer pages for each book (hand-written, as my printer was down) covering everything from science to reading comprehension – and the poems within these books served as the catalyst.

Joyce Sidman’s Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2014) is next on the list, but there are myriad other poetry books out there from other friends, too – including collections by David Harrison, Jane Yolen, and Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong, the dynamic duo behind Pomelo Books.

And of course, there’s this book:

(Sorry, just had to sneak in an extra plug!)

If you happen to be home schooling – or just looking to add a new angle to your students’ academics – consider poetry! These days, there’s a poetry book about darned near every subject you can imagine. Poems, by their very nature, describe their subjects in ways textbooks and web page entries cannot; they distill their subjects, elevate their subjects, and offer unusual, creative perspectives. There are poems about nature, science, math, relationships, music – pick a subject, and there’s likely a book of poetry about it somewhere.

(Many of the books I’ve contributed to, listed below, include “Construction People” and “School People” (Wordsong, 2020 & 2018), “Poems Are Teachers” (Heinemann, 2017), and the National Geographic anthologies)

And considering today is Poetry Friday, you have the opportunity to check out a wide range of poems in the kidlitosphere by visiting A Year of Reading, where Mary Lee is hosting the poetry roundup with a spotlight on Irene Latham’s next book, D-39: A Robodog’s Journey (Charlesbridge, 2021)!


I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!


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Coming January 26, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

Children will love to follow along on a Goldilocks-like journey as Elliot searches for the perfect place to rest in this new board book! 

Coming March 2, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

Contrasting the past with the present, this picture book takes you through a lyrical exploration of the world as it was before humans made their mark.


I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.


Ordering personalized signed copies online? Oh, yes, you can!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)


Thank you to everyone for your support!


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19 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Using friends’ children’s poetry books in the (home school) classroom

  1. Jane Heitman Healy

    In ordinary times, I am not usually a proponent of homeschooling, but in this case, I applaud your choice. But beware–when these strange times end and your kids are called back to the classroom, they may be reluctant to go because you have given them so much fun and enrichment!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lindabaie

    There is so much content in those & other poetry books, Matt, springboards to content & loving poetry all together make smart kids! Love reading about your time teaching!


  3. Your kids are really fortunate that you can share so many wonderful books with them. It is quite an unusual experience, isn’t it, to be so intimately involved with their learning. Friends and Anemones–great pick!


  4. Kimberly Hutmacher

    Such great collections that you’ve highlighted. We actually homeschooled our now grown three kiddos all the way through, and we loved using poetry and other literature across the board- science, history, math- all of it!


  5. haitiruth

    It sounds like your homeschool is the place to be! Congratulations on what a great job you’re doing, and thanks for the plugs for these wonderful collections! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com


  6. authoryvonafast

    Hey Matt -How do i get involved in Poetry Friday? I have a website now… www.yvonafast.com Sincerely,

    Yvona Fast (518) 891-3827 http://www.wordsaremyworld.com NEW book! Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your North Country Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market Author, Employment for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome or Non-Verbal Learning Disability: Stories and Strategies, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2004 Co-Author, My 9 Lives: A Holocaust Memoir Weekly column, North Country Kitchen, http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/page/category.detail/nav/5203/North-Country-Kitchen–by-Yvona-Fast.html 

    Liked by 1 person

  7. authoryvonafast

    Thank you! I’ll check out her post. I have read many of the blogs you link to… I just noticed above, i need to change my signature – the wordsaremyworld.com has been dead for a few years now, and my new website is just my name!

    Liked by 1 person

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