Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Poem Writing Year #184 - Sticks

Last evening, my husband and hiked up in the woods, noticing newly fallen trees and the black and yellow of aspen leaves sprinkled on the ground.  A sunset bounced off of tree trunks, turning them orange, and somehow the whole forest looked as if it had been touched by a magical light.  Silently, I promised myself, "We will do more of this."  

Sometimes life gets too busy around here: rushing to lessons, sorting piles of laundry, getting frustrated at each other, running out of pet food, and finding moldy peppers in the refrigerator.  We can forget what matters most.  We can forget to slow down and marvel.  We can forget to play.

Students - this poem came from two places.  One was from a wish/plan.  It came from my wish/plan to play outside more with my family.  My plan is to play in the woods more and to play in the creeks more.

Thinking about this reminded me of how Hope, Georgia, and Henry love to sticks into a nearby creek, watching them rush out the other side.  In turn, this reminded me of "Poohsticks", this same game as described in A.A. Milne's  THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER.

So, this poem grew from two places.  It grew from a wish/plan, and it also grew from a book I know and love.  You, too, can find ideas in your wishes, your plans, and books you love.  Honestly, you could do this forever.  Such a blending of ideas will yield a lot of writing!

If you would like to peek inside the actual "Poohsticks" chapter in THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER, watch this brief video clip over at Exploring the Thames.  If you would like to watch a clip of the 2009 World Poohsticks Championships in Days Lock in Oxfordshire, England, also at Exploring the Thames, you can do so here.  You can find the official rules for these Championships here at the official game's website.

But sometimes, instead of clicking your mouse or reading or should just go outside and play a game of Poohsticks for yourself!  Have fun!

Don't forget, is still Banned Books Week.  Here is your banned book of the day.

I'll bet you can figure out why some people have wanted to ban this book.  If you guessed because it says "stupid" in the title, you are right.  Pardon me for saying so, but I think that is stupid. 

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Halfway Day of MyPoWriYe! #183

 Toe Jam Girl
by Amy LV

It's The Poem Farm's half birthday!  Let's celebrate with a snack.

Sorry.  I honestly have no idea where that poem came from.  Somehow I got thinking about toe jams.  The idea of putting the word 'jam' next to the word 'jam' just cracked me up.  I like how you could read the title as eating toe jams or dancing about toe jams.

Students - this is another example of just following your silly brain.  See where it goes.  Let one word bump up against another word, like strangers in a subway.  See what they say to each other, and maybe the conversation will make you laugh.  If it makes you laugh, maybe it will make someone else laugh.

You may have noticed a new "Search" box in the upper right hand corner.  This is a half birthday present to the blog, from me!  I hope it will help you find posts you wish to reread or poems you would like to read.

It is still Banned Books Week, through Saturday.  My featured banned book of the day is HATCHET, by Gary Paulsen.  Banned for "graphic descriptions of trauma and injury" (Helium).

Shop Indie Bookstores

If you have ever wondered about the hoops librarians must jump through in protecting the First Amendment, you can read a school librarian's thoughts at Check It Out.

As I continue to try to stretch the wings of this six-month-old blog, I would be honored if you would send a friend over to celebrate today's half birthday of daily poems!

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pumpkin - My Poem Writing Year #182

Georgia & Hope & Pumpkins 2001
Photo by Amy LV

Students - this is another mask poem, or a poem with an object talking.  I have a habit of always imagining what objects are thinking and wondering.  So many things feel alive to me, so choosing pumpkins or Christmas trees is always difficult because I don't want to leave anyone out.  Do you ever wonder what objects or animals are thinking?  Which object or animal do you wonder about?  Just look around for a minute.  Let your eyes land on something, anything.  Now ask yourself, "What might this ________ think about?"  Jot a few notes, and play with them.  Soon you may have the bones of a poem beginning.

It is still Banned Books Week, through Saturday, October 2.  Yesterday's poem, "Warning", is about protecting our rights to read all books.  And here is my featured banned book of the day.

For more information about this classic and award winning book's challenges, check out Censorship: Wielding the Red Pen.

And if you'd like to read a whole bunch of banned books in protest of the whole idea of banning books, check out amazon's list.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Warning - My Poem Writing Year #181

Go ahead.  Disagree.  You are welcome to do so.  You may disagree with any words that anyone writes anywhere.  If you live and read and write in a free country such as The United States, your right to freedom of expression allows me to say what I wish and you to do the same.  We may speak and write about what we experience, believe, and invent.  These freedoms are protected by the Amendment I in The Bill of Rights of the US Constitution.

Of course, freedom of speech is not an excuse to shoot our mouths off or hurt people with our words.  The other side of the freedom coin is responsibility, and in this blog I work to be responsible to my readers and to earn your trust.  This responsibility means that sometimes I must speak out about things I believe in.  And I believe in books.

September 25 - October 2, 2010 is Banned Books Week.  All over the US, schools, libraries, communities, and bookshops are speaking out for challenged books, for the right of authors to be read, regardless of their words.  There are people who work to have books taken off of shelves because they do not agree with the stories or words presented.  It is the right of these people to do so.  But it is my right to disagree with them.

Students - this post is about something I believe is important, something I would fight for - freedom of expression.  What would you fight for?  (I do not mean fighting with fists, but  standing up for something, working for a cause.)  These things you believe in will surely be powerful and rich writing ideas.

Teachers - if you would like to share a simple and sweet puppet video explaining the importance of ALL books, you can find one here at Banned Books Week Videos.  And if you would like to use today's poem in any public way by posting it on your blog or hanging it in your library, I welcome you to do so without permission (though I'd love to know!)

What can you do if you wish to defend the right of all books to live on library shelves?  You can do many things, but the best one is probably to read a banned book.  Of course, you may disagree with anything I say here.  You have the right to do so in the comments.

If you live in a country without freedom of speech, I pray that one day you will have this human right.

After explaining Banned Books Week to my children (11, 10, and 8), I read them this book, AND TANGO MAKES THREE.  We all fell in love with its tender message of love and kindness.  My eyes teared up, both at the story and at the thought that anyone could reject such a truth and theme.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

MyPoWriYe #180 - Tea Party Time

Tea Party
Photo by Amy LV

There is something magical about stuffed animals and dolls, a realness that only children and some grown-ups can see. When I was in the upper elementary grades, my best friend Keisha would sleep over, and we'd snuggle all of my stuffed animals into the bottom of our zipped-together sleeping bags. We'd build small houses for them out of shoe boxes, and we'd take care of them with pretend toys and food.  When I was alone, I would play with my Ginny dolls for hours, admiring their tiny silver tea set and laying out their shiny perfume bottles on the small dresser.  Ginny even had an ice skating outfit, red with white fur trim.

Students - our pretending lives are as real as our real lives in so many ways.  What do you most love to pretend?  Thinking about the world of your imagination opens many doors to writing possibilities.  You might wish to make a list of all of your favorite pretend games, and see which one sparks a poem or a story.

This adorable picture book includes letter writing, a bear, and a surprising tea party.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

MyPoWriYe #179 - I Read

Our family loves to read, and this list poem includes several of the ways and places I've found us reading.  Where do you read?  Often I read in the bath, and sometimes my book gets wet.

This Wednesday, September 29, will be the half-way point of My Poem Writing Year!

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Poetry Friday, Peek, & Poem #178

This is #18 in my series of poems about poems!

Today I am grateful to welcome Lori Faas, first grade teacher at Canal View Elementary in Spencerport, NY for our first 2010-2011 POETRY PEEK, an opportunity for teachers and students to share their own explorations of poetry as well as their own poetry.  Here's Lori:

In her book, AWAKENING THE HEART, Georgia Heard says "We all have poetry inside us....".  I have always felt that way about myself.  I have many fabric-covered journals filled with songs and poems that I wrote as a child and teenager.  I do not remember reading poetry in elementary school and yet I was able to create rhythm and rhyme.  In high school I was introduced to Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, and Edgar Allan Poe.  I can still, many years later, recite the lines from "The Raven".  I do not, however, recall being taught to love the sound and the music of poetry, to learn that poetry speaks to us, about us, and about the world and times we live in.

As a first grade teacher, I have always had songs and poems related to the curriculum and the months of the year.  I present poems about pumpkins in the fall and raindrops in the spring.  The children had always loved these and remembered them so I felt that I was doing enough.  This past summer, I attended a writing in-service taught by Amy and left thinking about all of the many different ways that I could infuse poetry into my school day.

The way that I have found works best in our schedule is "Poet of the Month" as discussed in Lee Bennett Hopkins in PASS THE POETRY, PLEASE!  After researching different children's poetry anthologies such as THE RANDOM HOUSE BOOK OF POETRY FOR CHILDREN by Jack Prelutsky and HAMSTERS, SHELLS, AND SPELLING BEES by Lee Bennett Hopkins, I had a list of poets that I thought would work for the school year.  Too bad that there are only ten months in our school year!  My next dilemma was to figure out where this was going to fit into our day.  I found a piece of wall near our line-up spot and hung up some poems with the intention that I would read a poem occasionally while we were lining up to leave the room.  Little did I know what this would become.

Emily and Braden

In just a short amount of time, our line up poetry reading has become a classroom ritual.  It is the line leader's job to chose which poem will be read.  We cannot leave the room until we read a poem!  As you can see in the picture, I only have six poems currently on the wall, and these first graders know them all and read them along with me after only two weeks of school.  At the end of the month, I will let the children choose their favorite poems from the wall and glue them into their poetry notebooks so that they can continue to enjoy the sound and the music of poetry.

Here is my "Poet of the Month" list for the 2010-2011 school year.  It is subject to change based on teacher's whim:

September - Mary Ann Hoberman
October - Lee Bennett Hopkins
November - Eve Merriam
December - X.J. Kennedy
January - Aileen Fisher
February - Douglas Florian
March - Kristine O'Connell George
April - Paul B. Janeczko
May - Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
June - Langston Hughes

Thank you, Lori, for sharing this POETRY PEEK into your classroom today.  Should anyone give this a try, please comment back later and let us know.  Too, I am currently seeking more PEEKS for future Poetry Fridays.  

It is National Punctuation Day, and over at Iroquois Intermediate School in Elma, NY, the school is celebrating in style.  With punctuation headbands and punctuation marks on their bellies, those little marks are front and center!
Today's complete Poetry Friday roundup is over at Karen Edmisten's blog, The Blog with the Shockingly Clever Title.  Please visit there to find out what is happening poetry-wise in the kidlitosphere.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Poem Writing Year #177 - Signs

Raiber Road Sumac
Photo by Amy LV

Fall is an enchantress.  She lures us through her beauty, straight into a den of death.  Fortunately, this death only lasts for a few winter months.  And joyfully, it wears its own shimmering loveliness.  

Around here, we judge autumn's approach by the trees behind our pasture.  Hushes of red and brown are whispering across the hillside this week, promising snow.  And this, students, is where today's poem grew from.  It grew from what I see every day, everywhere.  So go ahead, look around.  What do you see out there?  How might you compare this thing you see to something else?

Now, you may not realize it, but a holiday is just around the corner.  National Punctuation Day is tomorrow, September 24.  Start readying yourself now.  Do whatever it is you do when you celebrate punctuation.  Wear something.  Say something.  Photograph an improperly punctuated sign.  And do it tomorrow.  If you're interested, click the link above and you can read information about how to enter your own punctuation haiku in a National Punctuation Day contest.

Teachers, if you are looking for an interesting book to help you brush up on your own punctuation and usage, here's a good one.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Surprises - My Poem Writing Year #176

Draft of Surprises

Students - sometimes poems come together in scrips and scraps, the same way that dreams come.  I am not sure, but I think this poem came from the following facts:

1.  I saw two children covered in temporary tattoos last Saturday.
2.  My son went to the doctor yesterday.
3.  International Talk Like a Pirate Day was three days ago.
4.  I know someone with lots of tattoos who once told me that the secret to having lots of tattoos is to get them in places that hide beneath your clothes.
5.  Someone else told me last week that she has a tattoo, and I was surprised. 
6.  My sister is a doctor, and her four-year-old son's name is Jack.  (I do not think that either of them have tattoos.)
7.  I loved the adult novel THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.

Usually I do not go back and deconstruct where a poem came from, but it was interesting to think through what brought this poem out of the abyss.

After writing several drafts yesterday, I asked my children to read this poem aloud.  Listening to someone else read my poems aloud helps me know if I have written clearly and in a strong enough meter.  This time there were a few places that I wanted to go in and tweak, and the poem actually ended up quite different in some spots.  Revision is like playing around on an instrument, just listening to how different sounds and meanings go together and deciding on your favorites.

Next Friday is National Punctuation Day...start preparing to celebrate now!
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

MyPoWriYe #175 - Over and Under

Wearing or Baring?
by Amy LV

Well, this was simply a giggle to write.  I liked playing with the words 'over' and 'under' as well as the words 'everyone' and 'no one'.  If you had been here last night, you would have seen my fingers tapping away on the side of my desk.  

Students - It's interesting to switch back and forth between silly writing and serious writing.  Stretching in this way allows a writer to explore all different sides of his or her personality and brain and soul.  You might try that.  After you write one in one style or feeling for a while, switch to writing with a different style or feeling.  It's neat to find out what's going on in the dusty corners of one's own mind.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

MyPoWriYe #174 - Seasons Come

 Leaf Carpet
Photo by ?

Where we live in Western New York, our year has four distinct seasons, but the lines between these seasons are blurry at the edges.  Some days feel like winter in the morning and summer by lunchtime.  So it is natural for children to ask, "What season is this?" on a regular basis.  At our house, we talk about what season the calendar says and what season it feels like to our bodies.  

I was reminded of these recurring family conversations the other day when reading my colleague's blog, It's the Little Things.  Lori recounts a story here about Braden, one of her first grade students exploring this same thought, "How can we know when autumn begins?"  Ever since I read Lori's story last week, I cannot stop thinking about the honest thoughtfulness of this little boy who listens to nature.  My poem today is dedicated to him and to all children who see the seasons reflected all around them: in flowers, in smells, in blowing leaves.

Students - sometimes we hear stories that stick with us.  Stories that aren't even ours.  Stories that come from other lives, other times and places.  As writers, we can capture those stories and turn them into little bits of art.  In this way, they become our stories, our poems, too.

If you happen to have read this poem earlier and are revisiting it, you may notice some changes.  It used to be a first person poem, in the 'I' voice.  Now it is in the second person, using a "you" voice.  The story behind this change is that when I shared the original with my teacher, Lee Bennett Hopkins, he explained, "When you fill work with a log of I'm, my, I --you're 'stealing' from your audience.  It is all yours --not theirs--anymore." 

This is a new reading layer I will think through while writing future is fun to collect revision possibilities, like leaves in a pocket.  Am I stealing from my reader?

Of course, learning more from Lee and then playing around, this poem changed quite a bit!

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Leaving - My Poem Writing Year #173

Students - sometimes you can find a poem idea in a book you are reading.  That's what happened with this one.  I have been reading a wonderful adult novel, HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, by Jamie Ford.  This book is about many things, but much of it is about the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.  Lately I cannot get this book out of my mind, and as I wrote, it just crept in and said, "Write about me!"

Reading some of the sad departure scenes in this book made me think about how many people throughout history have been forced to leave their homes: to find political freedom, as prisoners of war, to find new work and land, to help their families.  Writing last night, I imagined one woman leaving her home.  And I imagined her as every-woman, throughout many times and places.  So, if you didn't know who the poem was about as you read...that's good!  I'm not sure either.

This poem is a Shakespearean sonnet, a very particular form with a specific rhythm and rhyme scheme.  If you look at the end words, you can figure out how the rhyme works.  You can also figure out how many syllables are in each line by tapping your desk or your hand.  This is how I count syllables.  My fingers are always tapping, even when I'm listening to country music while driving!  They tap, tap, tap away on the steering wheel.  If you'd like to read about the form of a sonnet, you can do so at Wikipedia.

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

MyPoWriYe #172 - Baby Raccoon

This poem is about something that always makes me sad - animals hit by cars.  Driving to a school on Wednesday morning, I saw a deer that had just been hit, and I guess I haven't been able to get it off my mind.  Somehow it doesn't feel right that creatures who don't even drive are killed by our cars.

Students - I wrote this poem in my head while driving along dark country roads last night.  When my ten-year-old daughter Georgia read it, she asked, "Why does it have to be a baby raccoon?  That just makes the poem sadder."   Sometimes life is sad indeed, and poems can be with us through our sadness.  Writing about injustice or sad topics can sometimes help us make sense of the world.  At the very least, it can help us find a word-home for our feelings.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Poetry Friday & #171 - Mother Poet

Frog Eggs at Heart Rock Farm
Photo by Henry LV

This is #17 in my Poetry Friday "poems about poems" series! 

Happy news!   A band of us from the "Poetry Friday Gang" have had our proposal accepted by the Kidlitosphere Conference, KidLitCon!  This conference will be on Saturday, October 23, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Mary Lee Hahn, of A Year of Reading, wrote the proposal, and our panel includes: Toby Speed of The Writer's Armchair, Andromeda Jazmon of a wrung sponge, Laura Shovan of Author Amok, Laura Purdie Salas of Writing the World for Kids, Elaine Magliaro of Wild Rose Reader, Mary Ann Scheuer of Great Kid Books, and me.  I cannot wait to meet these poets and bloggers in person.  If you are planning to attend this conference, please stop by.

If you live in the Western New York Area, consider visiting East Aurora this weekend for the Storybook Window Walk, a celebration of THE SCARIEST DREAM EVER, a picture book written by Maria T. DiVencenzo and illustrated by Redfish Gallery owner and artist Alixandra Martin.  The windows of Main Street will be transformed into a living picture book with the original paintings from the book.  You will be able to read as you walk!  Read more about this event in The East Aurora Advertiser.

THE SCARIEST DREAM EVER isn't a poetry book, so I'm bending my own rules here on a Poetry Friday.  However, this delightful book debuts tomorrow, September 18, and I would like to congratulate my artist friend Alix!

Teachers - I invite you to link to The Poem Farm on your teacher websites.  I strive to make the writing ideas friendly and comfy, writing that a child could try alone or with a family member.  On the sidebar to the right, links may be of interest to parents wishing to embrace more poetry at home.  Next week I look forward to our first fall poetry classroom visit with first grade teacher Lori Faas from Canal View Elementary in Spencerport, NY.

Elaine Magliaro, of Wild Rose Reader, is graciously hosting today's Poetry Friday.  Be sure to scroll back on her blog and find some of her "Things to Do if You Are a ...." poems.  They're charming and full of imagery!

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

MyPoWriYe #170 - After Rain


Students - I sat for quite a while last evening trying to choose an idea for a poem.  Once I had settled on 'worms' as a topic, it took even longer to bring it to this little poem.  One thing that helped me to begin was reading through my old poems and notebooks, to see what kinds of ideas popped up.  This wormy idea came from something I have never liked: the smell of worms after a rainy night.

Writing today's poem and thinking about this yucky smell makes me want to collect a list of smells in my notebook.  I remember the smell of my Aunt Kay's tiny rose soaps, the smell of my mother's ham dinners roasting away in the oven, the smell of our old dog Eli's fur.  If you're not sure what to write today, maybe a smell will get you started too.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Poem Writing Year #168 - My Other Life

A Reading Life
Photo by Mark LV

Many children dream of pets but are not able to have them because of allergies, living situations, or parent concerns and fears.  But through books we can all have pets, befriend wild animals, and learn to understand animal languages.  How lucky we are that these small lines and loops of language give us what we cannot have in our lives.

If you are a child who is serious about wanting a pet for yourself, this article at wikiHow may give you some good tips about persuading your parents that this is a good idea.

And teachers, if you're looking for an excellent book about teaching persuasive writing, a genre required by the new Common Core State Standards and life in general, I cannot recommend WRITING TO PERSUADE, by Karen Caine, highly enough.  It's full of mini lessons, model texts, and all kinds of advice about the genre of power.

Last night I wrote a different poem, and then I realized that it was not an animal poem!  Back-to-the-poem-board I went, and honestly I'm grateful it happened.  If it hadn't, this poem would still be floating around for someone else to find...

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This Morning - MyPoWriYe #167


Students - Does your mind ever wander as you eat a bowl of cereal?  Does your brain imagine the cereal as growing grains, the raisins as grapes on a vine, the milk squirting from cow udders?  Mine does!

Try this.  Wonder.  Look at something.  Trace it back.   What did it used to be?  How is it different now?  How will it be different someday?  Write.

If you'd like to know more about milk production in our country, check out MooMilk, by the Circle H Dairy in California.

And if you love cows, consider joining 4-H.  Depending on where you live, you can learn lots about dairy judging and even raise a cow to show at the fair!

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Monday, September 13, 2010

My Poem Writing Year #166 - Class Pet

by Amy LV


Welcome to another themed poetry week here at The Poem Farm.  So far, we've had "TV Turn Off Week" back in April and "Free Verse Week" in July.   This past Saturday began "Animal Week".

Today's poem grew from two stories.  The first I told in yesterday's post, about the death of Gus.  The second story involves my own children.  Right before school began last week, we went to visit their classrooms.  In  Henry's room, we could see a fish tank full of water.  Rocks.  Bubbler.  Plant.  No fish.  All the same, my three children danced around the room, "Class pet!  Class pet!  Henry has a class pet!'  Henry looked in the tank proudly.  Soon the fish would come.  And they did, three small fish to call grade three home.

I believe in pets.  At home and in school.  Learning to care for something vulnerable teaches kindness and putting others first.  For children who don't have pets at home, it's especially important; a pet always listens.

Students - this image of my children all excited about a tank full of water stuck with me.  I have thought about it many times during the week, and the combination of this and remembering Gus two days ago melted into a new poem idea.  Sometimes an idea takes a while to form itself, kind of like the way rings grow around and around until suddenly there stands a big tree.  Listen to those little grains, the small bits.  If you gather enough of them, they might surprise you!

A hearty "Good day!" to all students at Iroquois Intermediate who may be listening to this poem on the announcements today.  And a wonderful Monday to all classrooms of students and teachers who may be visiting on SMART boards or in computer labs.  Please let me know if you have ideas or suggestions as to how this little blog might help you find more poetry in you and around you.  I'm open to suggestions!

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

MyPoWriYe #165 - She'd Tell You

Magda (Sandy)
? - 2010
Photo by Larry Leaven

This poem is dedicated to Magda (Sandy), who lived with us for a few weeks in 2008 and who died at the end of this summer.  I wrote a bit about her on Mother's Day, how she was dropped off on our road and cared for so many kittens.  We are happy that she was able to live her last two years in such comfort and love with our good friends.

Students - a poem is a meaningful way to remember someone who has died.  Often, people read poems at funerals or tuck poems into cards of a deceased person's family members.  Writing a poem about someone does help us keep that person (or animal) alive in a small way.  It also helps us heal.  And while this poem does not describe everything about Sandy, it attempts to give words to "catness".

My friend, first grade teacher Susan Keller, of Harold O. Brumsted Elementary in Holland, NY, once had a hermit crab as a class pet.  When Gus died, the children wrote poems about him and shared them with each other.  The children formed a line and each took a turn touching his shell and saying goodbye.  As teachers, we create rituals and routines that teach our students how to show reverence and care for all beings, large and small.

Rest in peace, Magda (Sandy).

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Recycling - My Poem Writing Year #164

This is the first poem in a new week of semi-themed poems, but I am not going to tell you the theme until Monday!

This week's theme is NOT "lice" even though this is the second poem I have written about lice.  My first lice poem will appear in Lee Bennett Hopkins' forthcoming book, NASTY BUGS, later this year. In addition, I wrote an essay about lice which you can find in the WBFO column on the right.  It seems that the topic of "lice" is a life-topic for me.  Bummer.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Poetry Friday & #163 - To Do List

"To Do List" is #16 in my series of Friday poetry poems!

Happy Poetry Friday!  

Today we will explore ways to bring poetry and rocks together.

Poems fill the air around us, and sometimes we get all swirlytwirlybusy and miss them.  Yet small beauties and moments of grace, times when plain-turns-amazing, are as common as rocks.  

Several years ago, my good friend Maria gave me some stones for my garden, homemade bricks actually, on which she had pressed the words, "YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE".  These four blocks live tucked under our Black Eyed Susans now, and I think of Maria whenever I walk by that garden spot.  If you're considering making your holiday gifts this year, I can vouch for the sturdiness and happy-feelings of my word bricks.  Check out Poetry Stones for more information.

On a similar note, I just found a new blog-to-love, downstream activities for kids.  In one post, Mary K. Weinhagen offers a fabulous poem and rock project along with a photo, and now I can't wait to make my own stone poem.  As soon as I do, I promise to post a photo.  And if you try it, please share a photo here and with Mary too.  This is one of the neatest craft and literacy projects I have found in some time.  It combines science, writing, and art... enough to make me quiver! 

It is funny how things come in threes, and so do today's rocks.  This week, Kidlitosphere Central offered up a new edition of Literacy Lava, a free digital Australian magazine of ideas for literacy educators.  On page five of this sixth edition, you can read a lovely short article (accompanied by photos) about how to make story stones for nursery rhymes, stories, or spelling games.  Catherine Oehlman tells how rocks and stones have been used in many cultures for hundreds of years in the telling of stories.  She offers suggestions of how we can do the same.  Why not bring a bit more nature into the classroom and home with words and stones?

Students - today's poem is a list poem, as I'm sure you could tell.  You may have also noticed that each line ends the same way.  It's fun to use repetition in this way, and if you try it, I'd love to read your work.  It will be such a treat to feature student work on a Poetry Friday very soon, and I invite all of you - students and teachers - to send poems or poem thoughts.

For your "To Do List" for today, I recommend a visit to Anastasia's blog, Picture Book of the Day, for the complete Poetry Friday roundup.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Trust - My Poem Writing Year #162

Henry Finds Hidden Berries
Photo by Amy LV

Georgia Picks More Than She Eats
Photo by Amy LV

Hope Wears Raspberry Thimbles
Photo by Amy LV

Yesterday, we celebrated our last day of summer vacation by picking raspberries.  Sixteen pounds worth!  We did think that we could pick all day, but soon enough we left full and happy and excited to return.  And last night's dessert was raspberry pie, of course.

The idea for this poem grew from a combination of every berry picking experience I've ever had as well as Tricia's Monday Poetry Stretch over at The Miss Rumphius Effect.  This week, she encourages us to try writing a contradiction poem that begins, "They say...but..."  Students, you might want to try this.  If you ever feel like disagreeing with people, this is your chance to do so in a poem.

For those of you in the Western New York area, our family cannot recommend Awald Farms, in North Collins, highly enough.  Thank you to our good friend, Amy Conrad, for this berry picking recommendation.

Check out these cute raspberry earrings on etsy, the best online craft spot in town.  I think I'll need to wear these on our next picking expedition.  And if you happen to be a new parent who does not yet know this book, please just trust me and order yourself a copy of Bruce Degen's JAMBERRY.  It's one of the most fun read alouds you'll ever read.

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