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Classic Poems for Kids to Memorize (while washing their hands)

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Inside: Classic Poems for Kids to Memorize (while washing their hands)

A simple way to memorize anything is to pair it with an activity. And we think hand washing is a great one for memorizing a poem.

Think about it. We teach kids to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, right? Well, why not make the most of it.

This is a great time to focus your child’s attention on something other than the dull task of counting the number of seconds.

You might already know that reading poetry is great for children, but it’s so much more than a nice idea. Poetry memorization is incredibly beneficial to a child’s development.

Here are some tips on how to get started with hand washing/poetry reciting and make it a success!

Classic Poems for Kids to Memorize (while washing hands)

Tips for Classic Poems for Kids to Memorize (while washing their hands)

1. Pair it to make a habit.

The best way to make sure poetry practice happens regularly is to pair it with something you already do. Tape a poem to the mirror above the sink ready to read (or get fancy and frame a poem to hang nearby). Read the poem taped to the mirror while washing your hands. Easy-peasy.

We (at least try) to teach kids to wash their hands for 20 seconds, right? Simply add this step to the task for a little easy practice and a lot more delight.

Before you know it, your whole family will have a poem memorized.


2. Make it a family thing.

Participating in poetry memorization as a family creates a shared family culture around poems. Sometime later, when the wind is blowing, one of you will suddenly think of Windy Nights by Robert Louis Stevenson and begin reciting it…and you’ll all understand.

Commit to reading the poem every time you wash your hands. You’ll all easily have a poem memorized by the end of a week.

When everyone has it down, celebrate your family accomplishment by reciting the poem all together (in another room preferably) and switch it out for a new poem!


3. Read the poems aloud.

No matter how strange it feels standing in front of the sink talking to yourself, read the poem aloud! This is key to easily memorizing it. You’ve got to speak the words out loud to get to know them well.

Don’t keep it locked in your mind and think it’ll stick. Let your whole family know to read the poem aloud when they’re scrubbing those hands.

What about non-readers? Try pairing memorization practice with mealtime or bedtime routine and have them practice reciting lines from memory later when they wash hands.


4. Start with the classics.

We recommend you start with classic poems. Here’s why…

They’re important to know. Books, songs, movies, and even some modern-day poetry often contain references to classic poems with the assumption that you know them. Be in the know. You’ll enjoy these things more (and probably on a deeper level), if you get the references.

They often have more complex language. Yes, they can be more complicated and challenging to understand. But you know what happens when you memorize one? You dig in and challenge your mind.

It’s more than reading and thinking “huh, that one went over my head” and moving on. You have to really become familiar with the language.

When you spend time with a poem, rolling it around in your mind and speaking the words, you get to know it intimately. The more you read it aloud, the more mental connections you make.


Classic Poems to Get Started

We’ve chosen a handful of great classic poems to get your family started. These all take approximately 20 seconds to recite (or a little more because it doesn’t hurt to err on that side of things when it comes to hygiene).

Plus, here’s a little bonus! We’ve included classic Shakespeare excerpts everyone should know for exactly the same reasons you should memorize classic poems.

References to know and complex language to stretch your mind. Everyone should be familiar with the Bard of Avon.


Click the red button below to download the FREE printable cards with these poems. Print and begin memorizing today!


Classic Poems

“The Swing” by Robert Louis Stevenson

“Windy Nights” by Robert Louis Stevenson

“Trees” by Joyce Kilmer

“The Arrow and the Song” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Hope is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson

“The Pasture” by Robert Frost

“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth (2 stanzas at a time is approximately 20 seconds)


Shakespeare Excerpts (Songs and Speeches)

“Hark, hark! the lark at heaven’s gate sings” (a song from Cymbeline)

“Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” (a speech from Macbeth)

“Under the greenwood tree” (a song from As You Like It)

“Double, double toil and trouble” (from Macbeth)


You never know when a reference to one of these will pop up in something you’re reading or watching. We hope you enjoy this activity as a family and celebrate what you accomplish together. Also…WASH YOUR HANDS!

Want more poetry? Get our FREE Poem of the Month resource every month!


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