We did a Poetry Egg Hunt!
I printed out the words to two nursery rhymes ("Humpty Dumpty" and "Sing a Song of Sixpence"), each on a different color paper. I cut out all the words and stuffed them into colorful plastic eggs. When the families arrived, I entertained them in our program room for about 10 minutes (announcements about upcoming programs, booktalking and sharing some poetry with them) while my colleagues hid the eggs throughout our department.
Once the eggs were hidden, I released the kids to find all the eggs and put them in a large communal basket. Once we had all the eggs*, we brought them back into our program room, cracked them open, sorted out the blue words and the yellow words, and I challenged the kids to unscramble the words to make up their nursery rhymes. I provided construction paper and glue for them to glue the words down as they unscrambled them.
The kids had a BLAST searching for the eggs and some of them really got into sorting out the rhymes. It was an easy and fun activity to kick off our poetry program.
I chose nursery rhymes because I was relatively certain that all or most of the kids would be familiar with them, but this would certainly work with any poems.
Some tips from our experience:
- Create a backup set of words in case some get lost or any eggs remain unfound. That way your kids can still unscramble the entire rhyme (can they tell you which words are missing?).
- Have a printout of the rhymes you're using just IN CASE your kids don't happen to know the nursery rhymes you picked. I had a couple that didn't know "Sing a Song of Sixpence", but one of the moms helped out.
- I put the words to "Humpty Dumpty" on yellow paper and hid those words in the warm-color eggs (pinks, reds, oranges, yellows) and the words to "Sing a Song of Sixpence" on blue paper and hid those words in the cool-color eggs (blues, greens, purples). I had a moment where I thought only 3 kids had shown up, so I was prepared to only hide half the eggs.
- Count the eggs so you know when the kids have found them all!
- We didn't, but you may want to create a map of where the eggs are hidden so you can make sure you get them all. Or this might be more work than it's worth.
- You may want to hide the eggs in advance, but it worked for us to do them after our families had arrived and were in the meeting room. That way we didn't have to worry about other children walking off with them or about keeping the kids from starting early when they arrived to play before the program.
We did this program with our homeschoolers as part of our monthly homeschool program, but I think this activity would work well with a variety of groups. It's conducive to a wide range of ages - we had a span of ages 4-16 at this particular program. To do it like we did it, at least some of the kids need to be reading to unscramble the poems, but if you wanted to try something like this with pre-readers, consider:
- Unscrambling the rhyme as a group with the librarian reading the words and the kids helping recite the rhyme.
- Having a pre-written poem on large paper or your dry-erase board and the kids searching for rhyming words to fill in the gaps.
- Hiding rhyming words and asking kids to help you match them up when the group gets back together.
And this doesn't necessarily have to be a poem activity! For a group tour, you could hide the titles of books or subjects and ask the kids to use your catalog to find the call numbers. You could hide letters and ask the kids to put them in alphabetical order. The possibilities are numerous.
Are you doing any programs or lessons for National Poetry Month? I'd love to hear about what you're doing!
* Okay, all but one. There is still one egg floating around somewhere in our department. We'll probably find it in June.