I love tea, I pretty much always have. I also love books although I haven’t always appreciated poetry. My own appreciation for poetry began to develop when I discovered the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education and began using Ambleside Online for our own homeschool. With this curriculum we read poetry daily and I discovered that poetry can be funny, beautiful and inspiring. Out of this our poetry teatime has grown.
A poetry teatime is not essential to a Charlotte Mason education, however it can be a lovely way to enjoy your poetry in a fun less schoolish way. I love to incorporate simple rhythms into our days that create memories and establish routines in my children’s minds. This is just another way that small things we do can make a difference in the joy we all experience in our daily lives.
I also don’t like to add something that is going to be a large burden to do. So in order to keep our poetry teatime simple we only do it once a week. I looked at our weekly schedule and chose the day that was the most open for us in the afternoons. For us that is Thursday. We rarely have anything scheduled that day, school is easily done in the morning, and it is a light chore day.
I always have a variety of teas on hand to choose from; both herbal and black. Some of our favorites are from Celestial Seasonings and Trader Joe’s. Sometimes we use something else entirely, like lemonade in the summer. Other ideas would be hot chocolate, juice, or hot apple cider. Another way I keep it simple is to usually have only a simple snack or sometimes none at all. Often it will be some in season fruit in a bowl or sliced on a plate, sometimes some sliced cheese and crackers, and occasionally some muffins or my favorite scones. If we are feeling extra fancy I might make some lemon curd to top our scones or use leftover frosting to turn our muffins into cupcakes.
I also don’t get too fancy with our table. I always have candles in the house and it is quick an easy to light one and set it on a doily in the center of the table. Sometimes I have fresh flowers from the garden or nature finds from our walks as a centerpiece. Or if it is nice out I place everything on a tray and take it outdoors to the deck. In the background I will often play the music of whatever composer we are currently studying.
I use sturdy yet pretty dishes. I have 2 teapots- one is slightly larger and a little more delicate, the other is a small white one(which I painted) that I found in a discount store. For teacups for the kids I bought a set of stacking espresso mugs from World Market a few years back and painted them with ceramic paint. They look super cute but the paint isn’t as strong as I wish it was and would not be dishwasher safe. However they are the perfect size and shape for little ones. As my children get older they sometimes like to use a slightly larger mug. These I have gradually collected from local potters at craft fairs.
The last piece is the poetry we choose. We have a few favorite books that I usually grab and choose a few poems from, but I also have a collection of Autumn Poems that I gathered (autumn is my favorite season!) or we read from our school selections. Sometimes we also read picture books if the mood strikes. Often one of the children will request a favorite poem or story. I will list some of our favorite poetry resources below.
Steps to creating your own poetry teatime:
- 1. Choose a time and day that works in your schedule
- 2. Collect a few sturdy yet fun dishes and teacups/mugs- thrift stores are also great places to look for these
- 3. Add a simple creative touch to your table such as a candle or flowers, play some music in the background
- 4. Boil water for a pot of tea (or use hot chocolate, juice, milk) and add a simple snack if desired- sometimes we just have tea
- 5. Read aloud some poetry and picture books
- 6. Have fun, relax, practice good manners but don’t stress.
Some of our Favorite Poetry Books:
- A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson– We have the one illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa and love it but I have heard the Tasha Tudor version is lovely, too. This is probably our favorite book of poems for children!
- When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne- These are sweet and funny. My 4 year old daughter’s favorite poems are in these books. Warning: some are quite long and your children will insist you read the whole thing!
- A Child’s Book of Poems Illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa-This is a nice collection of poetry from a variety of poets.
- Lavender’s Blue ( A Book of Nursery Rhymes)Compiled by Kathleen Lines and Illustrated by Harold Jones- I love the old fashioned illustrations and enjoy some of the less well known nursery rhymes.
- Poems for Children by Eugene Field-These poems are about children and the things children do, lots of lullubies. Some are sad, some are funny, some are sweet. I pick and choose the ones I like.
- A Heap o’ Livin’ by Edgar A. Guest-Sweet poems centered around the family and homelife.
- Around the Year by Elsa Beskow– We love everything by Elsa Beskow. This little books has sweet poems about days of the week and months of the year. Darling illustrations.
- Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill– Fun poems about all the colors.