Teaching an Appreciation of Poetry to Kids

It’s interesting that in France they have children learn poetry as part of their schooling. Children have to memorize poems. Though difficult, memorization can help develop a special appreciation for poems. This is something that most of my generation in America didn’t really get as part of their general education. I often hear about people in the past from my parents’ generation having had to memorize material like the poetry of Eugene Fields. I think that’s partly why some people from that generation have such fond memories of his poetry.

I’ve noticed my daughter’s teacher is using poetry to teach reading in her first grade class. They read a poem or two a week and copy it into a notebook. I think it’s wonderful that her class is starting grade school with an appreciation for poetry.

One of the poets my daughter’s teacher likes is Douglas Florian. He’s very down-to-earth. Here’s one of his poems from his book called Handsprings:

What I Love About Spring

Trees are growing

Streams are flowing

Cool Spring showers

Blooming flowers

Caterpillars creep

Peepers peep

Playing sports

Wearing shorts

April Fools’

Swimming pools

Going places

Relay races

Days are longer

Sun is stronger

Every morning songbirds sing-

I love nearly everything!

Copyright (c) 2006 by Douglas Florian

I like the earthiness of this poem and I think young kids can relate to that aspect of it too. It’s a nice thing if you can help a child develop an appreciation for poetry. Finding poets and poetry that they can relate to is a step in the right direction.

-Mama Lisa

UPDATE: My original presentation of the lyrics of this poem contained misprints. Douglas Florian was kind enough to correct me.

This article was posted on Monday, November 26th, 2007 at 11:01 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Douglas Florian, English, France, French, Languages, Languages, Learning, Mama Lisa, Poetry, Reading, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

24 Responses to “Teaching an Appreciation of Poetry to Kids”

  1. admwrlk Says:

    My uncle taught us this, and said it was the days of the week in Japanese. It definitely isn’t, but rhymes nicely.

    Sungi, mungi, chiki chiki ungi, alligati, fungi, zoo!

  2. Lisa Says:

    That’s neat! I wonder where it comes from and what it might mean.

    -Mama Lisa

  3. nipuna jain Says:

    i m a grade 2 teacher. its really good 2 find this excellent poem for my students

  4. nipuna jain Says:

    i need some interesting poems for my students related to space and planets

  5. KANGAH Says:

    my preoccupation is to have some information on authors who have written articles on the teaching of English poetry in France or French-speaking countries as a mecanism to help learners grasp language distortion

  6. Kathryn Says:

    When I was a child in Toronto in the ’40’s I chanted this while juggling 2 balls against a brick wall.
    Ungi mungi chiki chik gungi alligator fungi ooooh


  7. MamaDintyMoore Says:

    HELLLLLO!! My son and I were searching for something from my childhood, (the days of the week in Japanese). This is a long story but what caught my eye was the mention of this above by admwrlk. Who states being taught this by his/her uncle. Just wondering here…was your uncle a wrestler?

    Have you ever determined just WHAT this means?

    I realize this is an ollld thread. Thank you for hopefully responding.

  8. MamaDintyMoore Says:

    P.S. I was taught, Sungi, Mungi, Chicka chicka chungi, alligata hungi Ho.

    Seems to be a slightly different version.

  9. Don Says:

    Sungi, Mungi, Chicka chicka chungi, alligata hungi Ho.
    I learned as Sungi, Mungi, Chicka Chicka, Chungi, Alagani fungi Yo as a child in a logging camp in British Columbia in 1960. It was part of a nonsense story.


  10. Kevin Boyes Says:

    I learned the rhyme as ‘fungi mungi chiki chiki ungi alligator ungi – ewww’. I was trying to figure out the origin of this, is it part of a poem, etc. No luck so far. All I know is every time I hear the word ‘fungi’, this silly phrase pops into my mind!

  11. Shweta Says:

    I am a grade 2 teacher and i am planning to teach poem appreciation to my students. I would really love to know what points did you focus on while teaching children to appreciate poems.

  12. Bonny Says:

    I knew it as Ungi Mungi Chica Chica Chungi Allagator Ungi A O. We sang it while standing against a wall and bouncing a ball inside a stocking against the wall from one side to the other and lifting a leg and bouncing it between the leg….

  13. Margie Says:

    Learned this in the 40s in Toronto as – Sungi, mungi, chika chika chungi, alligator, ungi, Oh-o. Could have been used when throwing balls against the school brick outside wall, or juggling. I wondered if it was Chinese at the time.

  14. Patricia Says:

    I had that “alligator fungi” rhyme stuck in my head all week but couldn’t remember the rest so I finally found this thread with other people talking about it. My grandmother who grew up in the 40s-50s in Montana taught it to me. I think she said it like “Sungi, Mungi, Chicka Chicka Chungi, Alligator, Fungi Foe”

    It’s really interesting that it was also known in Canada! Maybe that’s where it originated from?

  15. Daria Sollman Says:

    sungi mungi chicka chicka hungi alligi fungi oh

  16. KC Says:

    This is too funny! I’m from Minnesota and my dad used to say this- so my friends adopted it into our “party cake” clapping games. I have no idea where it came from other than word of mouth!

    Tungi Mungi Chicka Chicka Ungi alligator fungi BOO!

  17. Debbie Manzon Says:

    I learned it in Canada as
    sunga munga chica chica funga allagalla finga ya.
    Days of the week in whatever country we felt like saying lol

  18. Laura Says:

    My grandfather taught it to me when I was young, in the 80’s, and he said it was the days of the week in Chinese! I knew it wasn’t but it was so fun to say. He taught it like this “sungai mungai chicka mucka hungai alligator fungai ohhhhhh” (end of alligator dropped off like “alligaitah”). My grandfather Frank Dunn, was from Vermont, lived in Florida, but also took pictures for National Geographic in WW2 while flying over China in Flying Tiger aircraft. I’ll have to verify all those details but that’s what I remember. He definitely visited China and also lived in Guam.

  19. Jeff Says:

    I learnt it as Mungi toogi chicken eye fungi ee-eye bong and was told it was the days of the week in Japanese but since there were only 6, we added “and Sunday!” after bong. 😂

  20. Anna Hill Says:

    Wow! My grandmother who was Finnish, taught me this strange little rhyme when I was a child. She was born in 1924 and I am now 33. This must be pretty old! (At least 100 years!) it’s always been so odd and mysterious to me! She told us it was the days of the week in Finnish! Lol.. grandmas. Sungai mungai chiki chiki chungi allegai fungi ho is how we said it. Very cool to see other people who know about this funny stuff.

  21. Vicki Says:

    Mom always said it was the Chinese days of the week. It popped into my head today so I’m googling it and found this thread. She was born in 1929 in Michigan. I have no idea what it really is or how it got started. Seems like a common rhyme though. Here’s her version as I remember it.

    Sungai, mungai, chicki chicki, fungi, ali ali, sing, kaichow.

  22. Robert Disner Says:

    Funny this just popped into my head at 3 AM as well! My babysitter said they were the Chinese days of the week. She taught my sister and I how to say them. She must have had a good laugh!

    Sungai, Mungai, Chicka Chicka, Fungi, Allegary, Hungai, Chow

  23. beatrice smythe Says:

    delighted to see this thread! the rhyme just popped into my head tonight, and as others said, i turned to the internets for answers. my Mom (who grew up in Toronto in the ‘40s) taught us the “Ungai Mungai Chika Chika Chungai Alligator Ungai Oh” version -for ball bouncing or jumping rope. as well as “Ificky Iicky Hadicky Gunicky Iicky Shooticky Swanicky Iicky Sawicky Siticky Onicky Fenceicky Yesicky” – kind of gruesome, but fun to say super fast… :)

  24. Metal Jesus Says:

    Funny, i learned this from a schoolmate in the 80’s, courtesy of his grandfather (born in the 1910’s). We were told it was the days of the week in Chinese. Though someone from the local Chinese restaurant said “that’s not any of the Chinese languages I know. Maybe it’s Korea?”

    We were told Sungai, Mungai, Tikataka, Fungai, Yevai, Yungai, Yo.

    I looked it up for fun once, and saw a variation on redir “Sungai, Mungai, Tiddly, Wungai, Atigator, Fungai, Chow.

    Interesting to see other takes

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