Monday, December 6, 2010

Final Poem of NF Week - Mouse - #251

Outside the Birdhouse 
Photo by Henry LV

Inside the Birdhouse (Deer Mouse Nest)
Photo by Henry LV

This is #7 and the final poem in this week's nonfiction challenge in which I wrote a poem based on my own nonfiction reading that day.  

Students - Today's poem came from a funny place.  For a long time, our ten-year-old daughter Georgia's camera has been missing.  It was not her fault; it was my fault.  I borrowed it, and then I put it somewhere in my very messy study.  I knew it was in here somewhere but was too frightened of the piles to even look.

Well, yesterday I began overhauling my study.  It's getting very cold and snowy 'round these parts, and I want our bunnies to take turns visiting and working beside me in my study.  They live in outdoor hutches, and they're cozy in their fur, but the hopping will be good for them...and the company will be good for me.  However, for obvious reasons, one cannot have a "study bunny" if there are piles of books and papers all over the floor.  Anyway, to make a short story long, I found the camera in the midst of the cleaning.

"But how does this connect to today's poem?" you ask.  We found the camera, and the children went through the saved photographs, remembering neat ones they'd taken in the summer before Mommy lost the camera.  Henry took these two photographs of a birdhouse and the deer mouse nest inside.  As soon as I saw his photos, I knew what the focus of today's poem would be, and I found a new idea-finding technique: look at a photo...wonder...find facts...write!

Since I did not know any interesting facts about deer mice before yesterday, I read all about them at the New Mexico Game and Fish site, Pestworld for Kids (who decides which animals are pests anyway?), and SUNY ESF.  I was amazed by how many facts there were.  There were so many, in fact, that I needed to make little notes to myself.  I took my blank sheet of paper and drew a line down the middle, creating two columns.  In the right hand column, I wrote the heading FACTS.  I left the left hand side blank for the poem.  This way, while writing the poem, I could look over at the fact column to see what I still needed to include.

The funniest-worded fact about deer mice I found was on the New Mexico Game and Fish site: "Deer mice are the snack food of the predator world."   Deer mice would probably not find this funny at all.

For a thoughtful and classic mouse poem, read Robert Burns's poem "To a Mouse", here, and then listen to it and watch the perfect pictures here.

I am still thinking about Nonfiction Week.  Just like Free Verse Week #1 & #2, this week stretched me to think about poetry in new ways, to experiment with form and teaching at the same time, to find interesting (yet not distracting) facts.  It was not easy, but I liked it and may well do it again.  As always, please do let me know if you try it too.  I would love to share a class's work around writing nonfiction poetry.

Today you will notice that Mark has helped me by adding all of these different share buttons. Thank you to Mark!  And I thank you in advance should you choose to share this post, or any post, in any way!

(Please click on COMMENTS below to share a thought.)


  1. "I think mice are rather nice." (THank you, Rose Fyleman)

    I'm a great fan of wild mice. You have given real substance to them here (21 paper clips--I love that!).

    And I had a house rabbit once. His name was Olive and I loved watching him go about his rabbit-business in the morning light.

    I wish I had a mouse right now, on my desk.

  2. Dear Blythe,

    Yes! I wanted to link to the poetry anthology MICE ARE NICE edited by Nancy Larrick, but that may just be for the next mouse poem.

    Was your house rabbit litter trained? We have two outdoor bunnies. One in a milk house (litter trained) and one in a hutch (not litter trained).

    Olive is a great rabbit name, but you need a mouse now.


  3. Hello. I am Madelyn Stoklosa from mrs. Evancho's second grade class. I love your poems! I never knew deer mice existed. You gave me a idea to write a poem about Helen Keller. From, Madelyn Stoklosa. p.s every day when we have morning meeting at the rug, I read your poems there, I like your poems very much!

  4. Dear Madelyn,

    What a treat to receive a note from you. Thank you for your kind compliment. The fact you like my poems means a lot to me because my biggest hope is to write poems that children enjoy.

    A poem about Helen Keller is a wonderful idea. I am imagining that it will be a nonfiction poem, and I hope that you let me read it when you are finished. You can type it in here or to my e-mail at amy at amylv dot com if you would like to share!

    As for deer mice, I learned a lot about them the other night too. They are the most common mammal in North America. And they often sneak in houses too, especially this time of year.

    I cannot tell you how lucky I feel that your class reads my poems at morning meeting. Now when I write, I think about you in my head and imagine what you will think.

    Do you think that the writers of Mrs. Evancho's class might like to visit the blog and share some of your poems some Friday? Please talk to Mrs. Evancho and your friends, and let me know.

    Stay cozy!

    Your Friend,