It's National Poetry Day in the UK on 7 October. On that day, or any day, why not have fun with poems in class? They're a great way to explore language and practise diction.
The National Poetry Day site has a lot of poems. Many are difficult for ESL learners but we've picked a couple which are usable even with young learners.
This year's theme for the day is choice, and this simple poem is about just that: "Choose a Poem" by James Carter could be used from A1+. This verse shows how simple the language is in terms of comprehension but how rich in terms of rhythm and rhyme. The change of rhythm for the third line keeps readers on their toes, and the "s" alliteration is delicious on the tongue. There are a couple of pronunciation difficulties that will allow you to work on them naturally in context: the "ou" and "ow" sounds and the word "rhythm" itself.
Say it loud
say it slow
let that rhythm
And if you want to go on to choose a poem, they link to the "Poetry By Heart" collection that's part of a national competition for reciting poetry. The page for age 7+ is the best fit for ESL learners (the age isn't marked on the page.)
We especially liked this Halloween themed poem, "The Boneyard Rap"
by Wes Magee. There are even actions suggested in the text, for a full-body experience. The language is a bit more difficult, but most of it can be physically pointed to on the body, or shown as an action for the verbs:
Rattle your teeth
and waggle your jaw
and let’s do the boneyard rap
You could save Christina Rossetti's "Mix a pancake" for Pancake Day.
Mix a pancake,
Stir a pancake,
Pop it in the pan;
Fry the pancake,
Toss the pancake, —
Catch it if you can.
National Poetry Day