30 Short Poems for Kids

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Poetry for children can be amusing, silly, or rhyming -- anything that gets them interested.

Nursery rhymes, song lyrics, Dr. Seuss books — without realizing it, we are surrounded by poetry every day. Poems can make children laugh, but more than that, they can help with cognitive development.

Short poems for kids can help your child understand patterns, which aids the brain in learning to process and retain information (1). Poems can even help with the development of speech (2). Plus, children enjoy poetry when it’s age-appropriate.


Funny Poems for Kids

Funny poems are an excellent starting point when you begin to share poetry with kids. Whether it’s wordplay that makes the poem funny or a joke or a twist at the end, these poems will tickle their funny bone and encourage them to recite it.

Eletelephony

Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant—
No! No! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone—

(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I’ve got it right.)
Howe’er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;

The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee—
(I fear I’d better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)

— Laura Elizabeth Richard


At the Zoo

First I saw the white bear, then I saw the black;
Then I saw the camel with a hump upon his back;
Then I saw the grey wolf, with mutton in his maw;
Then I saw the wombat waddle in the straw;
Then I saw the elephant a-waving of his trunk;
Then I saw the monkeys – mercy, how unpleasantly they smelt!

— William Makepeace Thackeray


The Purple Cow

I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to see one,
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one!

— Gelett Burgess


Our Kittens

Our kittens have the softest fur,
And the sweetest little purr,
And such little velvet paws
With such cunning little claws,
And blue eyes, just like the sky!
(Must they turn green, by and by?)

Two are striped like tigers, three
Are as black as black can be,
And they run so fast and play
With their tails, and are so gay,
Is it not a pity that
Each must grow into a cat?

— Evaleen Stein


The Picture-Book Giant

Once there was a fierce, defiant,
Greedy, grumpy, grizzly giant
In the pages of a picture-book, and he
Sometimes screamed, in sudden rages,
“I must jump out from these pages,
For this life’s a much too humdrum one for me!
Fiddle-dee!
Yes, this life’s a quite too quiet one for me!”

So one rainy day he did it,
Took the picture-book and hid it,
Stamped his foot, and shouting loudly,
“Now I’m free!”
Boldly started out, forgetting
That he could not stand a wetting!
He was just a paper giant, don’t you see?
Dearie me!
Just a gaudy, picture giant, don’t you see?

— Evaleen Stein


Rebecca

Who Slammed Doors For Fun And Perished Miserably

A trick that everyone abhors
In little girls is slamming doors.
A wealthy banker’s little daughter
Who lived in Palace Green, Bayswater
(By name Rebecca Offendort),
Was given to this furious sport.

She would deliberately go
And slam the door like billy-o!
To make her uncle Jacob start.
She was not really bad at heart,
But only rather rude and wild;
She was an aggravating child…

— Hilaire Belloc

Rhyming Poems for Kids

Rhyming poetry gives children the opportunity to anticipate what’s coming next and sometimes have the satisfaction of being right.

Most nursery rhymes are basic rhyming poems. Beyond that, there are endless examples of rhyming poems for kids, some more modern than others.

A Million Little Diamonds

A million little diamonds
Twinkled on the trees;
And all the little children cried,
“A jewel, if you please!”

But while they held their hands outstretched
To catch the diamonds gay,
A million little sunbeams came
And stole them all away.

— Mary Frances Butts


Room For One More

There is always room for one more
I see by his coat he must be a stray,
The untidy look gives him away.
He’s lost his will and is so thin,
Hasn’t eaten since God knows when.
I know as I coax him through the door,
There’s always room for just one more.

— Author Unknown


The Forest

The forest is the town of trees
Where they live quite at their ease,
With their neighbors at their side
Just as we in cities wide.

— by Annette Wynne


Robin Redbreast

Goodbye, goodbye to Summer!
For Summer’s nearly done;
The garden smiling faintly,
Cool breezes in the sun;

Our Thrushes now are silent,
Our Swallows flown away –
But Robin’s here, in coat of brown,
With ruddy breast-knot gay.

Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
Robin singing sweetly
In the falling of the year.

— William Allingham


The Cow

The friendly cow, all red and white,
I love with all my heart:
She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple tart.

She wanders lowing here and there,
And yet she cannot stray,
All in the pleasant open air,
The pleasant light of day;

And blown by all the winds that pass
And wet with all the showers,
She walks among the meadow grass
And eats the meadow flowers.

— Robert Louis Stevenson


What is Pink?

What is pink? A rose is pink
By the fountain’s brink.
What is red? A poppy’s red
In its barley bed.

What is blue? The sky is blue
Where the clouds float through.
What is white? A swan is white
Sailing in the light.

What is yellow? Pears are yellow,
Rich and ripe and mellow.
What is green? The grass is green,
With small flowers between.

What is violet? Clouds are violet
In the summer twilight.
What is orange? Why, an orange,
Just an orange!

— Christina Rossetti


Ladybird Ladybird

Lady-bird, Lady-bird, fly away home
The field mouse is gone to her nest
The daisies have shut up their sleepy red eyes
And the birds and the bees are at rest

Lady-bird, Lady-bird, fly away home
The glow worm is lighting her lamp
The dew’s falling fast, and your fine speckled wings
Will flag with the close clinging damp

Lady-bird, Lady-bird, fly away home
The fairy bells tinkle afar
Make haste or they’ll catch you and harness you fast
With a cobweb to Oberon’s star.

— Author Unknown

Famous Short Poems for Kids

There is both modern and classical children’s poetry available. The issue of copyright prevents us from including some of the best modern children’s poetry, but you can find examples from poets such as Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein, and Jacqueline Woodson all over the internet.

Here are some of our favorite classical examples.

When I Was One

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
Now and forever.

— A.A. Milne


My Shadow

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest things about him is the way he likes to grow-
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an India rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.

He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

— Robert Louis Stevenson


Old Mother Hubbard

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give the poor dog a bone;
When she came there
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

— Author Unknown


As I Was Going To St. Ives

As I was going to St. Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Every wife had seven sacks
Every sack had seven cats
Every cat had seven kits
Kits, cats, sacks, wives
How many were going to St. Ives?

— Author Unknown


Hey Diddle Diddle

Hey diddle diddle,
The Cat and the fiddle,
The Cow jumped over the moon,
The little Dog laughed to see such sport,
And the Dish ran away with the Spoon.

— Author Unknown

Silly Poems for Kids

The beauty of silly poems for kids is that they can stimulate different thought processes as well as dissolve your little ones into puddles of giggles.

In our first silly poem for kids, there are some actions, through which your child can join in and play along. These actions are in brackets, after the relevant line.

I’m a Little Teapot

I’m a little teapot
Short and stout
Here is my handle (one hand on hip)
Here is my spout (other arm out straight)

When I get all steamed up
Hear me shout
“Tip me over
and pour me out!” (lean over toward spout)

I’m a clever teapot,
Yes, it’s true
Here let me show you
What I can do
I can change my handle
And my spout (switch arm positions)
Just tip me over and pour me out! (lean over toward spout)

— George Harold Sanders


There Once Was A Man With A Beard

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said “It is just how I feared,”
Two Owls and a hen,
For Larks and a wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard

— Edward Lear


There Was A Young Lady Whose Eyes

There was a young lady whose eyes,
Were unique as to color and size,
When she opened them wide,
People all turned aside,
And then ran away in surprise.

— Edward Lear

Mother’s Day Poems for Kids

Mother’s Day poems for kids are often short and sweet.

This makes them excellent not only for reciting, but for putting inside or on a Mother’s Day card or craft.

Dear Mother

Dear mother, your love is special,
I cannot help but show.
Like flowers in a garden,
Your love makes me grow.

— Author Unknown


I Love My Mommy

I love my mommy, yessiree!
She is very good to me!
She makes me cookies and yummy treats,
That’s my mom and she’s real neat!

Oh, oh, oh, who wouldn’t know?
Oh, oh, oh, who wouldn’t know?
I love my mommy and she loves me,
That’s the way it’s supposed to be!

— Author Unknown


Dear Mother

You sew the buttons on my clothes
You give me a hankie for my nose
You make good things for me to eat
You buy me candy for a treat
You wash my clothes and mend my socks
Dear Mother, I love you lots and lots!

— Author Unknown

Christmas Poems for Kids

Google Christmas poems for kids and you’ll find page after page of Christmas songs, carols, and the like.

We’ve included some lesser-known children’s poems for Christmas, along with some of the actions for those interactive rhymes. Just remember not to read the words in brackets!

Christmas Is Coming

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat
Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat;
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’ penny will do,
If you haven’t got a ha’ penny then God bless you!

— Author Unknown


When Santa Comes To Our House

When Santa comes to our house (hands point to roof)
I would like to peek (peek through fingers)
But I know he’ll never come (shake head no)
Until I’m fast asleep (tilt and rest head on hands together)

Isn’t it the strangest thing
That Santa is so shy
We can never, never catch him
No matter how we try

— Author Unknown


Peppermint Stick

I took a lick of my peppermint stick (pretend to lick candy)
And was it ever yummy (lick lips and rub your belly)
It used to be on my Christmas tree (form tree shape with hands)
But now, it’s in my tummy (Point to belly)

— Author Unknown

Easter Poems for Kids

Use these poems in the weeks before Easter.

Enjoy plenty of fun, laughter, and bunny-focused dance moves before the real Easter bunny comes to make his chocolatey deliveries.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One ha’ penny, two ha’ penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons
One ha’ penny,
Two ha’ penny,
Hot Cross Buns!

— Author Unknown


Easter Is Here

Easter time at last is here
Bunnies, chickies, let us cheer
(clap and cheer)
Easter Bunny hops with joy
Eggs for every girl and boy
(hop around)
Easter time at last is here
Bunnies, chickies, let us cheer

— Author Unknown


I’m An Easter Bunny

Here is a bunny (raise two fingers and bend them)
With ears so funny
And here is a hole in the ground. (make hole with the fingers of the other hand)
At the first sound she hears,
She pricks up her ears (straighten fingers)
And pops right into the ground. (put fingers in hole)

I’m an Easter Bunny, watch me hop, (hop around)
Here are my two ears, see how they flop. (hold hands at sides of head and flop them)
Here is my cottontail, here is my nose, (wiggle hips, then point to nose)
I’m all furry from my head to my toes. (point to head, then to toes)

— Author Unknown

How To Choose Poems For Kids

If you’re unsure about how to find suitable poems for children, here are some tips that will help:

  • When you are choosing poems for children, look for examples of poetry that cover familiar topics.
  • Don’t break out the abstract, freeform poetry to share with your children. Stick to poems that rhyme and have a simple, clear, distinct rhythm.
  • The poems you choose can encourage wordplay. That stimulates your child to see words and the way they are used in a different fashion.
  • Your poems of choice should be vivid and allow your child to create a clear mental picture of what’s going on.
  • With young children, the sillier or the funnier the poem is, the better.
  • With younger children, poems that can be accompanied by physical actions are an excellent way to help “paint the picture.”
  • Think about attention spans. The poems here are short enough to keep your child interested right to the end.

Tips for Teaching Your Kids Poetry

To help teach your kids poetry, we’ve put together our best hints and tips.

  • Make it fun. Don’t sit your child down and inform them they’re going to learn some poems. Instead, introduce them casually.
  • If you are going to read a new poem to your child, be sure to run through it so you can read it aloud, without hesitation, and not ruin the experience for you both.
  • Use an expressive voice when you’re reading your child a poem. Different voices for characters, the appropriate emotions, raising your voice or lowering it where appropriate will all enhance the experience.
  • For older kids, have them choose a favorite song, and recite them as a poem. They’ll discover they already know plenty of poetry.
  • Use poems in artwork, crafts, and other places so they are an everyday feature. That way, when the time comes for your child to learn about poetry at school, they’ll have a headstart in poetry appreciation.
  • Dress up as a character in the poem you’re reciting. That will increase their interest.
  • Make it age-appropriate. For toddlers, stick to a poem with four or six lines.

The Last, Non-Rhyming, Word

Just the word poetry can be an instant turn-off for some people, but don’t let it put you off.

Sharing poems with your child can help you bond, aid their development, and it can be a whole lot of fun.

So use some of our poems or find some of your own, and discover short poems for kids — you’ll be glad you did.

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About the Author

Patricia Barnes

Patricia Barnes is a homeschooling mom of 5 who has been featured on Global TV, quoted in Parents magazine, and writes for a variety of websites and publications. Doing her best to keep it together in a life of constant chaos, Patti would describe herself as an eclectic mess maker, lousy crafter, book lover, autism mom, and insomniac.
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