Back to learning zone Learning zone

Poetry By Heart Home Learning Challenge

Choose a poem. Learn it by heart. Get ready to share it aloud.

Here’s the challenge: find one poem you love, learn it by heart and get ready to share it aloud after half term. You can take the challenge on your own or with friends.


1. Find a poem you love
On the Poetry By Heart website there are hundreds of poems! Explore the collections and find a poem you love, or, like a new friend, one you quite like and want to get to know better.

For everyone age 7+ start here for links to the yellow 7+ timeline and the Mix It Up collection, and a little video to show you the fun features of the Mix It Up

For everyone age 11+ start here for links to the green 11+ timeline and the Mix It Up collection, plus a wider pool of options to explore, from First World War poetry to Shakespeare sonnets – and there’s nothing to stop you enjoying the yellow 7+ timeline too!

For everyone age 14+ start here for links to the red 14+ timeline, there’s still plenty to enjoy in the 11+ timeline and the Mix It Up, and you might want to take a look at the First World War or Shakespeare Sonnets collections. There’s a little video to show you some of the features of the timeline designed to help you explore it. If you want to learn one of the poems in your GCSE anthology, click on the Advanced Search in the top left corner of the homepage, then click on your awarding body to see what we’ve got.

For everyone age 16+ start here for links to the red 14+ timeline, plus a new challenge in the form of Romantic poetry, plus there’s still plenty to discover in the First World War and Shakespeare Sonnets collections, and in the 11+ timeline. The timeline video will show you some features you might not know are there.

For parents and carers, and every member of the school ‘workforce’, including teachers, school librarians and support staff, subject advisors, PGCE tutors and trainees – start anywhere you like!


2. Learn it by heart

There’s no short cut to this. Like getting to know a new friend, you have to make time to do things together. Read your poem aloud to other people, illustrate it, write out the lines and stick them on the fridge door. Remember its sections as if they are scenes in a slow-motion movie or rooms in a house. Repeat the lines while you’re walking the dog. Recite it to the dog or in the shower or in front of a mirror. Give someone else the poem and get them to test you. Repetition is the key! Keep going until you’ve got it – you’ll get there!


3. Share it aloud
Once you know the words, think about how you want to say them. When starting to recite poetry, everyone goes too quickly – slow right down! And then slow down some more, especially where the punctuation and line breaks give you clues about this! And get your audience ready to listen – count to 10 before you start. Keep it much slower than your usual speech – let your listeners savour every word. Don’t be tempted to add lots of extra emotion or actions – everything you need is right there in the words. Think about the ending – you want to keep your listeners hanging on the last word for one more second, thinking about what they’ve heard before they all start clapping. Recite it in school, in the park or at home. Get someone you know to learn a poem too and perform your poems to each other, live and in person, over the phone or by video chat. You could make a video and share it with friends and family too.


And if you enjoy that, you can enter the Poetry By Heart competition
Our search to find England’s best poetry reciters in key stages 2,3,4 and 5 is under way. It could be you! Enter your school or college Poetry By Heart competition and you’re the first step on your way to the national finals, judged by top poets. Talk to your teacher or school librarian about what you need to do next! And school staff – there’s a competition for you too!