The Linguistic Pathway through Poetry

Apr 13, 2018 | Posted by Jennifer


A fortuitous turn of events happened, once upon a time many years ago, at an otherwise ordinary homeschool convention that I attended. It happened so long ago that the details are somewhat fuzzy in my mind, but here is the gist of it. The organizers of the event, the Florida Parent-Educators Association (FPEA), held a raffle. There were many prizes being dangled at the attendees, but one in particular caught my eye. It was a full program of IEW’s Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization, complete with audio CDs. In those days I was still somewhat new to the whole IEW approach, but everything I had purchased from IEW for my kids had been wonderful. Knowing that I never win anything, I still purchased a raffle ticket and then promptly forgot all about it.

Fortune shone on me, however, and a day later I received a call. In a surprising turn of events, I discovered that I had actually won after all. Not only had I won, but I’d won the poetry course, the very thing that had interested me! Excited, I picked up the program and then wondered how I would fit it all in with all of the other good stuff I’d planned. A few weeks later, we dutifully took the plunge. That was the beginning, but I had no idea how auspicious my prize would turn out to be.

I grew up loving poetry, and as a result I studied it in college. But in all the time I read, wrote about, and memorized poetry, I never considered what poetry’s benefits could be. It turns out there are quite a few! For starters, memorizing poetry is fun. The way the words roll off the tongue, it’s as if a poem craves to be spoken aloud. The rhyme, the meter, the emotion… Not satisfied with merely being read silently, a poem comes to life when it is spoken. And because poetry is so tightly crafted, the words fall like musical notes, one after the other. This also makes poems easier to memorize than prose. It feels more ordered, logical, and precise. The brain absorbs the words much more easily.

And as for the words, oh the words! Not content with plain vanilla, everyday words, a poem commands a richer vocabulary. And when we memorize those richly adorned poems, we absorb their vocabulary and make it our own. Colors are richer. After all, why be blue when something can be cerulean? Emotions are stronger. Rather than being happy, you can be buoyant. And sounds can be more precise. Did a bird sing, or rather did it sweetly trill? These words are sadly missing in our daily conversations, but thankfully they are alive and well in poetry.

I am so glad I bought that winning ticket. I thought our family had won something that might be interesting and fun to do. We did, but it turned out to be so much more than that. We won years of time spent together, both in our homeschool classroom and in our evening conversations, sharing poetry with each other. We won memories of favorite poems that we otherwise wouldn’t have known about that we share to this day. We won all of the benefits that memorizing poetry brings. And I fancy that we will continue to share those benefits with the next generation to come when and if I’m blessed to become a grandparent.

I hope that if you haven’t examined Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization that you will take the time to do it today. To whet your appetite, I’d like to share two of the Level One poems so that you can enjoy a little taste of the course. The first one, “Ooey Gooey,” is a sweet little piece that’s guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face. Coupled with that, it’s easy for even the littlest one in your family to memorize:


Ooey Gooey
Author Unknown

Ooey Gooey was a worm,
A mighty worm was he.
He stepped upon the railroad tracks,
The train he did not see!
Ooooey Goooey!


A little later on in the level, the poems get a little longer, but they are still very approachable and fun to learn. Take a look at this one by William Brighty Rands.


Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore
By William Brighty Rands

Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore—
No doubt you have heard the name before—
Was a boy who would never shut a door!

The wind might whistle, the wind might roar,
And teeth be aching and throats be sore,
But still he never would shut the door.

His father would beg, his mother implore,
“Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore,
We really do wish you would shut the door!”

Their hands they rung, their hair they tore;
But Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore
Was deaf as the buoy out at the Nore.

When he walked forth the folks would roar,
“Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore,
Why don’t you think to shut the door?”

They rigged out a Shutter with sail and oar,
And threatened to pack off Gustavus Gore,
On a voyage of penance to Singapore,

But he begged for mercy, and said, “No more!
Pray do not send me to Singapore
On a Shutter, and then I will shut the door!”

“You will?” said his parents; “then keep on shore!
But mind you do! For the plague is sore
Of a fellow that never will shut the door,
Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore!”

Aren’t these poems lovely? Share them with your students. Read them aloud with gusto! And print off the student pages to share. I hope the poems also put a smile on your face.

Something that surely will make you smile is that we are giving away a free copy of Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization complete with the CDs. I hope you’ll register. After all, like I was so many years ago, you may also find yourself pleasantly surprised to find that you’ve won as well! But don’t wait too long. The drawing will happen on April 27, 2018. Good luck!


Jennifer Mauser has always loved reading and writing and received a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1991. Once she and her husband had children, they decided to homeschool, and she put all her training to use in the home. In addition to homeschooling her children, Jennifer teaches IEW classes out of her home, coaches budding writers via email, and tutors students who struggle with dyslexia.

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