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Pros: Invaluable printable activities make poetry come alive and encourage kids to be creative.
Cons: The site has a very limited focus and limited resources.
Bottom Line: Fun way to learn to appreciate poetry, particularly Shel Silverstein’s poetry.
Use ShelSilverstein.com to introduce kids to poetry, its fundamental elements, and its many forms. Activity sheets and lesson ideas have plenty of great suggestions for individual play (mazes, word searches, write your own poetry) and group activities (discuss a poem, act one out). Kids who are particularly enthralled with Shel's world will enjoy exploring it more fully online.
In class or at home, kids can dissect poems by a variety of authors to explore their components: What kind of poem is it? Does it rhyme, and if so, how? What kind of rhythm does the author use? Or they can explore more general elements of poetry: What parts of speech does the poem use (verbs, nouns, etc.)? How might it use homonyms or homophones? Or use the guides to have kids construct their own poems, individually or as a class (each kid contributes one line). Kids can choose their own subject or write about one of Shel's characters.
ShelSilverstein.com is a showcase site for Shel Silverstein's poetry that also includes some activities and printable suggestions for offline poetry exploration. Several sections feature information about Shel and his poetry books, including selected poems and animations. There's also a section with games and some interactive elements, and a section for teachers and parents. The suggestions for poetry exploration are great, as is the aim of inspiring an appreciation for poetry. However, the site is very limited in its offerings, and it promotes only Shel’s poetry.
The potential for learning from ShelSilverstein.com's online content is limited. Online activities are mainly for having some fun with Shel's characters and his poetry, which could potentially encourage a love of (Shel’s) poetry. They include simple entertainment games (such as memory cards using Shel’s drawings), games that promote familiarity with Shel’s poetry (name that poem), and one game that offers real creative license to create an original poem. Once kids have played a game, there's not much reason to return, as the content of the games (the poems used) doesn't change.
The real strength of ShelSilverstein.com is the printable activity kits that teach about and inspire an appreciation for poetry, and encourage kids to write their own poems. The printables include activity sheets that have kids do things like write a list of words that rhyme with moose and then create a poem in the shape of a moose. They can also learn about the structural elements of poetry, such as rhythm, rhyme, meter, and verse; study types of poems such as epigrams, lists, rebus, non-rhyming, and acrostic; or use specific poems for in-depth exploration by discussing the perspective of characters in various poems, engaging in number and word play, and acting out poems.