I chose the poem A Chubby Little Snowman for our first poem (found at Can Teach). I printed the poem and put a dot under each word. I gathered a snowman, a bunch of carrots, and a rabbit for our basket. I glued a plastic eyeball to a craft stick, but it fell off the first time we used it (the girls didn't seem to care, but I'll probably glue it back). I read the poem to the girls while touching each dot under the words and while acting out the poem with the props. I then read it a second time while they acted it out with the props.
O was very interested in the poem itself, while E loved acting it out. I loved watching E make the bunny eat the snowman's nose, and she then pretended like the bunny was eating her nose. E also liked holding the craft stick and pointing at the words while saying her version of the poem...love it! I was amazed when O recited the poem after I'd read it to them twice...she was REALLY paying attention. I expected her to learn it after about a week and had no idea that she'd memorize it immediately. She has proudly recited the poem each day for her grandparents and daddy. I guess that shouldn't surprise me since the child has an amazing memory, and I knew that memorizing a poem would appeal to her since Laura and Mary (from the Little House on the Prairie books) have to recite poems and lessons. A couple of days after starting this activity, we were reading an American Girl book, and Kirsten had to memorize a poem to recite to her class...that made this activity even more thrilling for O.
I encourage everyone to do this simple activity with your children. After seeing how much E has enjoyed this activity at only 16 months old, I wish I'd started doing something like this with O years ago. I plan to have a new poem and poetry basket for the girls each month, and I'll probably keep a binder of the poems, so we can look back and read and recite them over and over again.
O asked me to make sure her "beautiful ring" was in the picture!