Maya Angelou Poet Study

by Jimmie

All you need for a homeschool poet study of Maya Angelou: books, videos, and printables.

Charlotte Mason recommended children study a single poet for an entire term, becoming familiar with his or her works over the course of repeated exposure. This page is a compilation of resources I assembled for my daughter's poet study of Maya Angelou during her seventh grade year of homeschool.

Learn the Poetry of Maya Angelou

A Charlotte Mason Styled Poet Study

NOTE:  Because of the nature of Maya Angelou's childhood abuse and other civil rights themes, this poet study is designed for mature middle schoolers or high schoolers. Please preview videos, especially the biography ones before allowing your child to watch. I designed this for my seventh grader, but every family has different standards. 

Maya Angelou Poet Study
Maya Angelou Poet Study

Poet Study #1: Finding Poems

by Maya Angelou

The most important element of a poet study after you have selected which poet to study is the poems themselves. For convenience sake, I like to have a book which I can use as a spine for the study. As an alternative, you can find many of Angelou's poems available for free online. But that can take some time to hunt them down, copy them, format them, and print them out.

In this case, I recommend the Poetry for Young People series. The volume featured below includes 25 of Maya Angelou's poems, complete with illustrations and introductory notes. Check your local library for copies or purchase a book from Amazon.

Studying Poetry by Maya Angelou

A Simple Way

The book featured to the right contains 25 poems, specially chosen for a young audience. Each poem is introduced with a brief note that helps to set the scene and aid in understanding. Vocabulary words are indicated in footnotes with their meanings. Full color, attractive illustrations extend the ideas in the poems and aid visual learners to uncovering meaning.

I recommend reading a poem each day that you have homeschool lessons. You can skip around the book or take them in order.

  1. Read the poem outloud to your child, and have him narrate it back to you. Read the poem a second time and ask for another, more detailed narration.
  2. You can also allow the child to read the poem silently and then read it orally, working on proper pronunciation and rhythm.
  3. Briefly analyze key elements from the poem -- either the form or the figurative language.

Poetry lessons like this are short. But the idea is that repeated exposure to the work of a single poet creates a familiarity with that poet's style. Don't over analyze every poem. But do choose one or two to study in-depth.

This Poetry Annotation worksheet is helpful for making notes about some of the most common poetic devices:  

  • simile
  • metaphor
  • personification
  • allusion.

A Spine for a Study of Maya Angelou's Poetry

Poetry for Young People Series
Poetry for Young People: Maya Angelou
$28.49  $1.5

Figuratively Speaking

A Resource for Teaching Literary Techniques and Poetic Language
Figuratively Speaking, Gr. 5-8 (Learning Works)

This resource book draws on classic literature to illustrate the use of 40 literary terms. Divided into sections on figurative language, poetic language, and literacy ...

$26.38  $2.07
Poetic Devices
Poetic Devices

Maya Angelou

Watching Videos and Hearing Audio

One of the wonderful aspects of studying a modern poet is the chance to hear (and even see) the poet read her own work. Hearing it recited aloud unveils meaning that was previously unclear -- intonation, emphasis, pauses, and even facial expressions help students to decipher meanings.The videos below show Angelou reciting two of the poems featured in the selected poetry spine: And Still I Rise, and Life Doesn't Frighten Me.

Maya Angelou Reading Her Poetry

Poet Study #2: Learning About the Poet

Biographical Study

Secondary to the poetry is a study of the poet herself. This is an optional part of a poet study, but can enrich the understanding and appreciation of the poems.

For example, understanding Ms. Angelou's experiences in the racially segregated South give a reader of her poetry more understanding of the scenes she portrays.

The book linked above from the Poetry for Young People series includes several pages of background information on Maya Angelou. It is certainly adequate for gaining an broad overview of the poet's life and times. 

The two videos below are ones I selected for my 7th grader to add a more visual aspect to the written biography. If you prefer text biographies, there are a few links lower down on this page.

Printables to Use for a Poet Study

Author Notebooking Page
This free set of four printable pages will work for any author, including Maya Angelou.

Timeline Notebooking Pages
These one page timelines are great for outlining major life facts for the poet you are studying.

Maya Angelou Printables

Maya Angelou Coloring Page
Print this jpg file for a nice Maya Angelou coloring page.

Every Day Edit About Maya Angelou
A proofreading exercise based on facts about Maya Angelou's life.

Maya Angelou (Black Writers) Coloring Page
This image file has a black and white portrait of Ms. Angelou plus some information about black writers.

Biographical Videos About Maya Angelou

American Authors of the 20th Century - Maya Angelou
Ad AllPosters

Learn About Maya Angelou

Reference and Biography

Maya Angelou Official Website
This is Maya Angelou's official, personal website.

Scholastic Videos with Maya Angelou
Specially recorded for young audiences, these 14 videos cover many different topics such as "What would you like your legacy to be?" and "What makes you happy?"

More Poetry Helps

Poetry is a broad category that encompasses many different forms of poetry. Design your own homeschool unit study with these resources about poetic forms.
Updated: 02/21/2012, Jimmie
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nikki on 01/29/2013

love it!

spirituality on 02/03/2012

Great page. I think Maya Angelou's story is very inspiring.

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