Thursday, March 31, 2011

Goodbye to MyPoWriYe - Poem #365

Draft of #365
Photo by Amy LV

Students - today's poem is an occasion poem, for this is the final day of My Poem Writing  Year, the challenge I accepted 365 days ago to write and post a new poem each day.  For today, I thought about writing a goodbye poem (but I'm not really leaving), a thank you poem (but I didn't know where to start), or a poem about crossing a finish line (but somehow I don't feel finished).  In the end, I decided to write about Will.

I dreamed of writing a poem every day for one year.  And Will helped me do it.  Will grew from the encouragement of family, friends, classroom teachers, students, my bloggy buddies, and deep inside my own heart.

Each day, people and attitudes help us grow.  We can write about these people and attitudes at any time.  Open up to the next page in your own notebook and jot a list of the people and beliefs which hold you up.  Maybe you, too, will write a poem about whose shoulders and advice you stand upon.

What next?  Well, tomorrow is April 1.  April Fool's Day!  And also the first day of National Poetry Month.  Poetry Friday will be here as will some haiku from grade 2.

For each day of April, I will post a brief note about a poetic technique or idea-finding strategy from this blog-year.  For each, I will link back to a few poems which illustrate the technique or strategy.  In addition, every Poetry Friday will feature a Poetry Peek into a new poem-loving classroom.  My hope is that April here will be useful to students as they eat, drink, dance, hug, read, sing, and cuddle poems - all month and all life long.... 

After April ends, The Poem Farm will still be here with one or two posts each week, including poems of course!

Lots of Love and Much Gratitude,

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Poem #364 Offers Three Choices

by Amy LV

Students - yesterday I was thinking about problems and solutions both in life and for characters in literature.  Somehow, this quote from Quaker missionary Stephen Grellet keeps running through my mind -

I expect to pass through this world but once.  Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now.  Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.

I am going to try to look at all of my decisions as having three choices: make it worse, make it better, leave it the same.  What thoughts or advice do you have about life?  Try wrapping them up in a poem.

Tomorrow is the last day of March, the last day of MyPoWriYe.  Sigh.  The next day is Friday, the first day of National Poetry Month.  Hooray!

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bite a Lunch Snowflake in Poem #363

Photo by Mark LV

Students - have you ever played with your food?  Sure you have!  I have fond memories of my bologna snowflakes, and so last night I chomped one just for the memories.  Writing about food and food memories is an excellent place to begin when you are not sure what to write about.

Try this.  Go through your life at the breakfast table, the lunch table, the dinner table.  Remember meals out, at Grandma's house, in your school cafeteria, at summer camp.  List every memorable meal or snack moment you can think of.  And then...see what calls out to you.  Write about that.

Remember those old Oscar Mayer bologna commercials, here and here?  This is how I still know to spell bologna.  Singing really helps!

Still hungry?  Munch on YUMMY!, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, and you'll fill with words and thoughts of food.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Walk Your Dog in Poem #362

Cali on Road
Photo by Amy LV

Cali in Woods
Photo by Amy LV

Cali in Field
Photo by Amy LV

Students - it is amazing to take a walk with our dog Cali.  She is incredibly fast, swerving in and out, in between trees, splashing in the creek, disappearing for a long time until poof!  She's back.  She runs as I walk, and she never ever looks tired.  I think that her walks are always ten times longer than mine are.

The photos above are from the walk that the two of us took yesterday.  Notice how they are all from behind Cali.  She is one quick dog!

What amazes you?  Write about it.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Let's Play a Board Game Instead - #361

Chinese Checkers
Photo by Amy LV

Our family has been playing a lot of Chinese Checkers lately.  Somehow I missed this experience in childhood, but it's a quick blast of a strategy game.  Plus, the glass marbles make a pleasing little "click" as they move across this board.  (Some Amazon reviews says that the marbles are plastic...perhaps they have changed the design.  I would not want plastic marbles.)

This house has no video games, so choosing board games is not really much of a choice.  But today I wrote pretending to be someone choosing a board game instead of a usual screen game.  I wrote about something that I like to do, hoping just a wee bit that people who read this poem will want to play more board games too.

Students - what do you like to do that you think others should try?  Writing gives people a glimpse into a new world, a way of seeing things differently.  People make choices and change their lives based on what they read.  

Two weeks ago, I read "For My Daughter Who Loves Animals," by Dorianne Laux

Every week, whether the money is there 
or not, I write a check for her lessons.....

...Now I see how she has always loved them all,
snails and spiders, from the very beginning,
without fear or shame, saw even
the least of them, ants, gnats, heard
and answered even the slightest of their calls.

After reading this poem, I scheduled a riding lesson for Hope, something we had set aside due to the expense.  Dorianne's words changed my actions.

Words are powerful indeed.

This week's goal:  beat Henry in Chinese Checkers!

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Remember Childhood in Poem #360

Georgia, Henry, & Hope in the Shelter
Photo by Elizabeth Pellette, 2009

Students - when I was a child, I remember thinking, "I won't do that when I am a grownup.  I'll remember what it's like to be a girl."

Now I am a grownup, and sometimes I know that I do forget childhood.  But I am trying to hold onto it!  Having my own children and working with children helps with this.

What do you long to hold onto?  This might be a good idea to write about.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Poetry Friday & Eating Books in Poem #359

Books are Food
by Amy LV

This is poem #11 in my Poetry Friday series of poems about reading and books and words.  I think this is the final one in this least for now.

Students - today's poem came from a collage of places, and I am going to try to connect the dots of all of the food/word connections that have been going through my mind of late.  

1.  The International Edible Book Festival is next Friday, April 1.  The first day of National Poetry Month.  We will celebrate at the Western New York Book Arts Center, one of my new favorite places.  At this event, we will truly eat our words.  Do check if there is such a fun evening in your town.  We can't wait!

2.  I have always loved Eve Merriam's poem "How to Eat a Poem."

3.  I sometimes confuse my senses and want to eat and bite things that I love - like our cat and my children and yes, books!

4.  Once I heard a very funny story in which Maurice Sendak explained how the best compliment he ever received was when a child ate his autograph.

5. Below you can read one of my favorite poems.  And while it's not about eating words, the way this poem places value on beauty as much as food moves me.

If of thy mortal goods thy art bereft
And from thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

Moslih Eddin Saadi, Persian Poet
Sometimes many little loves and thoughts from your life all find each other like little magnets.  When this happens, writing begins!  So watch for this, students.  Pay attention to how the ideas and thoughts and feelings in your life connect.  You may be surprised.

On this Poetry Friday, I would like to welcome the man who welcomed me to poetry to his new home on the Internet!  Knowing that Lee Bennett Hopkins has his own web address makes me smile.  It's like a great neighbor has moved to town.  Do stop by and visit Lee at his new snazzy and inspiring home here..

A word about next Friday.  Next Friday is April 1.  It is also the start of National Poetry Month.  It is also the end of My Poem Writing Year.  I will also be hosting Poetry Friday and featuring a Poetry Peek with Bonnie Evancho's second grade writers from Pinehurst Elementary in the Frontier Central School District here near home.  Soooo...I welcome you one and all and invite you to please bring a friend along as another month of poetry fun begins, all around the mulberry bush!

Today, our Poetry Friday Hostess Mary Lee has a delightful take off on Gerard Manley Hopkins "Pied Beauty," which she shared last week.  This week it's a rumpus with her original "Wild Atrocity."  So skate on over to A Year of Reading, and join the party!

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Become a Violin in Poem #358

Lynx in a Violin Case
Photo by Amy LV

Students - our children all play musical instruments, and so we are lucky to have a house filled with songs.  Sometimes when I listen to Hope, Georgia, and Henry playing, it feels as if their bodies have joined with their instruments - they sound so good!  This reminds me of the feeling I used to occasionally have when playing piano or the all-happy-lost feeling I have sometimes while writing.  

It is a wonderful gift to be at one with  your passion.  Today's poem came from that place, that feeling of connectedness to music and an instrument and all who have played it before.

Before bed last night, I read some poems aloud from A CHILD'S ANTHOLOGY OF POETRY edited by Elizabeth Hauge Sword.  This is a splendid collection mixing old classic poems with new to-be classics.  Highly recommended for reading aloud together or for adults and children to read quietly on their own.

Last's night's selections were, "in Just-spring,"  "maggie and milly and molly and may," and "anyone lived in a pretty how town" by E.E. Cummings.  We also read Jack Prelutsky's "The Spaghetti Nut" and "Homework! Oh, Homework!,"  Randall Jarrell's "Bats," Ogden Nash's "The Adventures of Isabel," Lewis Carroll's "Father William," and Christopher Morley's "The Plumpuppets."

Parents and teachers - never underestimate the power of reading poetry aloud.  In a short time, you crack open a whole world of language, experience, and beauty, of fun, playfulness, and wonder.  There is always time to read a poem.  And once you do...the poem is there forever.

I snapped today's photo at the girls' violin lesson.  Their teacher's cat loves to snuggle into the instrument cases!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yucky Leftovers? You Need Poem #357

Our Fridge Right Now
Photo by Amy LV

Students - the scene in this poem has never ever happened to our family before.  I got the idea from reading a book about people with mystery leftovers in their fridge.  Hee hee!  Just kidding. This has definitely happened to us before.  We have found old riddle-leftovers and wondered what they once were.  Maybe I shouldn't admit this, but it is the truth.

Mark your calendars.  To eliminate "Fridgeophobia," November 20 has been designated as "Whirlpool Clean Out Your Fridge Day."  Read some refrigerator cleaning tips here.  The Rubbermaid website advises, "'s best to just toss anything that you can't identify."  So if you don't know what it is, don't eat it.  Good life advice for all of us.

Sometimes we can find writing topics in those things we are not so proud of, things we're not very good at, things like losing track of little plastic food containers living in the refrigerator.  What bugs you about you?  What makes you say, "Yuck!"  Writing ideas grow in the compost of our lives.

You might have noticed that there is a bit of back and forth movement in this poem.  That's because I wanted it to feel like someone was rummaging around in the fridge.
As for the refrigerator photo above, I actually do know what is in all of those containers.  We have done a lot of cooking this week!

Honesty in writing is important.  Remember that.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Poem #356 - Do You Hug Your Laundry?

Students - this poem came from something that just happened yesterday.  I pulled out a pile of sheets and towels from the dryer, and Hope wanted to hug it!  We all do this here, snuggle into piles of clean laundry and soak up the warmth.  

This poem is about a simple pleasure.  What is one of your simple pleasures?  What is something little, free, daily, and undramatic which pleases your senses?  These are good things to write about, and often you will find that others enjoy them too!

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Did You Ever Want a Cast? - Poem #355

Cast Signing
by Amy LV

When I was six years old, I broke my arm by sledding under a barbed wire fence.  That really hurt, but it was fun to have an over-the-elbow cast and to have all of my friends sign the plaster.  It was also fun to keep the cast afterward and make little houses for my stuffed animals out of it.

I have memories of signing lots of casts and of wishing that I could try crutches.  My husband has never broken a bone...lucky him!  Or maybe not.  It is neat to have people's names written all over your arm, after all.

Students - this poem is also about a little jealousy.  Instead of just writing about having a cast, I decided to write as the person without a cast wishing that s/he had one.  Try that.  Take a feeling, any feeling.  Then imagine a situation, a specific situation including that feeling, and write from there. The situation might be real, or it might be completely made up by you.

This emotion-into-situation idea could work for a poem or a short story!

For the poem that is not really #355, don't miss the post that never officially happened.

Today is World Poetry Day!  Will you read and write poems in celebration of this international observance?

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Poem #355...But Not Really

This poem does not count for #355.  It does not count because it is too like the poem "Anteater" by Shel Silverstein.  However, I wrote the whole post after I realized that I had ripped the poem off somehow through my own childhood memories of Shel's poem.  How I loved his books through the 1970s and 1980s.

Students - this happens sometimes.  There are times when you write something and then afterward realize that your work is too much like someone else's work.  Then, it's time to get back to writing and dig around for something else.

I have left the poem and post below just for your entertainment of my sigh-of-a-writing-evening!

Students - where did this poem come from?  Who knows!  Sometimes I think that verses come from the lint that collects in my brain all day long.  At day's end, I sweep up my head and whatever ends up in the dustpan is the poem.  

For this one, I simply got jotting in my notebook, and this line appeared -

What would you do if an anteater swallowed your aunt? 

One thing led to another, and this silly homophone poem was born.  The last few lines took me a while because I could not decide whether to use the word "shame" or "blame."  The original ending read, "I am not a good speller/so I'm not to blame."  There were two reasons I changed it.  The first reason was that I did not want a contraction in the poem.  The other reason was that this chosen ending just sounded funnier to me.

Homophones are tricky!  To refresh your memory of what they are, homophones are pronounced the same way, but they are spelled differently.  For a great list of English language homophones and homonyms, as well as definitions for each, check out Tracy's site Taupecat.

To see a map of where people say 'aunt' to rhyme with 'ant' compared to where people say 'ahnt,' check out Quora.

Hmmm...I'm wondering if this poem has anything to do with the fact we have an ant problem in the kitchen right now.  Just thought of that.  Bet it does!  Maybe I need this guy to come for a visit.

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Tulips Know Today Brings Spring! #354

Tulip Decisions
by Amy LV

Students - If you have never planted tulips, one of the interesting things about them is that they are bulbs.  You plant tulip bulbs in the fall and waits all winter for them to pop up and announce spring.  Every spring, I say to myself, "Oh!  I should have planted more tulips!"

This poem is a lot like poem #272, "Perfect Timing."  It is fun to examine the same idea and thought with different words.  This poem, like that one, is a wondering poem.  If you write a poem every day, you will find that many of your thoughts circle 'round and find different words to say and wonder and examine and hope the same thing.

What do you wonder about nature?  What small things did you walk by this morning that made you pause and think?  Those small things are the stuff of writing.

Today is the first day of spring!  Happy Equinox!

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

#353 Longs to Hold the Super Full Moon

Hugging the Moon
by Amy LV

Students - this poem came from my excitement over tonight's super full moon.  It's true, too.  Sometimes I just wish that I could hold the moon.  At times I wish to pluck it down from the sky and rock it in my arms.  What impossible things have you wished for?  Such impossible wishes are the fairy dust of poetry...

One of my favorite picture books of all time is LULLABY RAFT by the mystical-magical Naomi Shihab Nye.  I was lucky enough to hear her read and sing this book at a Teachers College Reading and Writing Project reunion back in 2001.  Those few moments changed me.

You can read about tonight's perigee moon, or super full moon, at NASA.  Here in Western New York, we look forward to clear and cold weather.  Time to get out the blankets for lawn-viewing!

For a neat original poem, "mooncatching" and funny song link "We Like the Moon" (Spongmonkeys), head over to David E.'s Fomagrams.

Today, from noon - 6pm, is the Small Press Book Fair in Buffalo, NY, a fair with over 100 vendors and which attracted over 2,000 people last year.  Yesterday my children and I went to purchase bookmaking supplies at the Western New York Book Arts Center, and everyone was getting ready for the event.

A glorious moon-viewing to you and yours!

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Poetry Friday & Book Relatives - #352

Great Grandma Connolly's Hand in 1936
Print by Great Aunt Edythe Toebe

This is poem #10 in my series about books and reading and words.  

Students - yesterday our family went to the library.  It had been too long since we had been there, our evenings poorly prioritized, our fines too great to imagine.  But today we were back, and what a treat it was.  Now there's a full striped bag of books calling out to us from the corner of our own little home library.  And once again, I find myself wondering about all of the other hands, other lives, other unknown book relatives who checked these books out before we did.

Do you ever write about your own mysteries and feelings?  Today's poem comes from that place in me, from a place of feeling that I know people from the past.  Such feelings may be quiet, and to hear them we must first quiet ourselves.

The picture above is of my mother's mother's mother's hand.  It is an ink print, made by my Great Aunt Tom (Edythe.)  In the 1930s, Aunt Tom would print the palms of friends and family and then write notes about the different hand lines, predicting the future.  Once Aunt Tom told me that she stopped doing this because "so many things kept coming true."

If you live in the WNY area, there are two great events this weekend to know about.  One is the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair (free) which we plan to attend.  The other is a Roycroft class titled Integrating Book Arts in the Classroom, all about making books.

National Poetry Month is only two weeks away, and this means that there are only 13 days left of My Poem Writing Year.  With no plan for the next chapter, I am open to suggestions!

Andromeda has today's Poetry Friday roundup over at a wrung sponge.  Enjoy wandering through poems and thoughts and book reviews and celebrations as you visit this week's poetry neighborhood.
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Does it Sink? Does it Float? Poem #351

Our Creek
Photo by Elizabeth Pellette

Students - one could call type kind of poem a teach-you-a-fact-poem.  Taking facts we know and recasting them as poems gives us a way to think through our passions and interests.  You might have noticed that in today's poem, I use the word 'you' over and over again.  When a writer does this, it invites the reader to jump in.  It helps the reader know that "I'm talking to you, friend!"

Teachers - introducing and closing social studies and science units with content poems is one way to invite students to synthesize their learning and explore the arts too.  We might open a unit by reading poetry about the subject and close it by writing our own.

SPECTACULAR SCIENCE, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, explores all types of scientific subjects and would serve as a great model for such writing about facts.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Poem #350 (a Haiku) Welcomes Snowdrops

Our First Snowdrops
Photo by Amy LV

Today I offer my first haiku of 350 poems.  This week we have been simply tickled to see our first red-winged blackbirds, our first snowdrops, our first of everything spring!  Such a newness creeps into one's very marrow, and so this poem called out to me in the shower yesterday morning.

Students - if you are a maker of poems, a maker of stories, a maker of music, or a maker of art, be aware that you can make in your mind even as you do other things.  When you shower, walk to school, knit, ride your can think about what you are making and let those thoughts simmer in your mind like a fine rich soup.

For a wonderful radio show about haiku, listen to Tom Ashbrook's On Point - Haiku and You.  For an article about writing haiku, visit Teach Poetry K-12.

If you would like to hear a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale about a snowdrop, visit the Hans Christian Andersen Center, and read The Snowdrop.

Did you know that you can press flowers into pictures?  My husband's Aunt Pat has done this, hammering flowers onto fabric, making beautiful art.  The photo below is not near as lovely as the real thing, but can you believe that these flowers are all made by pounding petals with a hammer?

At Rhythm of the Home, you can read and follow a very clear tutorial about how to do this yourself.

 Pounded Flower Art by Aunt Pat Rybke
Photo by Amy LV

Dale Sondericker, my farmer-teacher inspiration for yesterday's poem, Manure Day, sent me a note last night - 

It will make you happy to know that the first time I heard it (the poem) was when I was in the tractor spreading a load of manure at 5:40 this morning.  My wife went on your blog and read it to me over the phone.

He's right.  That made me happy.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hooray! It's Manure Day! Poem #349

Early Spring Field
Photo by Amy LV

This poem is dedicated to Dale Sondericker, a second grade teacher at Marilla Primary in the Iroquois Central School District.

Writing in a workshop yesterday, looking for an idea, I found myself glancing around the cafeteria.  I saw Dale writing, and my mind followed this train of thought - 

Dale is a great teacher.  Dale is also a dairy farmer.  That must be a lot of work.  We live near some dairy farmers, and they are working all of the time.  One thing our neighbors do is bring the manure trucks by to spray the fields next to our home.  I just saw one of those trucks the other day.  Seeing that truck  made me think about how our little world would smell differently that day.  Hmmm...maybe could write a poem about manure. 

While looking at Dale does not usually or immediately make me think of manure, today the leap from idea to idea, thought to thought, brought me there.

Students - follow your own thoughts today, and try writing after your writing, reflecting on how you arrived at your idea.  It isn't true that authors and writers always know what they will write before they write it.  Sometimes we all need to simply follow the leap!

As writers and creative humans, we must be ready for such leaps, willing to accept whatever presents itself as a possible poem idea.  Who knows what new crops will grow in our fertile minds?

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Watch The Iditarod in Poem #348

Today's poem is dedicated to librarian Cecilia Driscoll's third grade students at Elma Primary School in the Iroquois Central School District.  They are studying the Iditarod and asked for a poem about it.

Students - It's a healthy stretch to write a poem for someone else from time to time.  In life, we all have days and experiences when we must write about things we might not normally choose or know a lot about.  In order for me to write this poem, I needed to do a bit of research.  

A note about revision.  I wrote this poem early in the day yesterday and revisited it several times throughout the day.  Doing this helped me to put some words "back on the shelf" and to "put some new ones in the cart."  For example, line 3 originally read, "on the heels of the ghosts."  Changing 'the' to 'old' allowed me more word variety and also another echo of the long 'o' sound in that first stanza.  As writers, we must reread our own writing with a listening ear, never certain that "this is good enough."

At The Official Site of the Iditarod, you can find out anything you'd like to know about the history, mushers, trail, and current race standings.  What I loved learning was about how The Iditarod Trail is actually the real trail that sled dogs ran long ago to move supplies in and out.

Here is an article about some recent news from this year's race.

I am grateful to the Mrs. Driscoll and her third graders for this stretch.  Let someone stretch your writing today!

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Poem #347 Brings Daylight Saving Time

by Amy LV

Happy Daylight Saving Time!

Yesterday I listened to an interview with Howard Mansfield in which he spoke about TURN AND JUMP, his book focusing on how we perceive time.  "Spring ahead.  Fall back."  That's what my mom always used to say.  Daylight Saving Time is a funny thing.

Here at the Naval Oceanography Portal, you can read a bit of history about Daylight Savings Time in the US as well as the dates for Daylight Savings Time for the past and next several years.

As for funny stories around here regarding Daylight Saving fall we invited friends  for dinner, and I could not figure out why there were soooo rudely late.  'Turns out I had not changed our clocks back.  And last night I looked at the kitchen clock, stunned that it was already 11pm.  'Turns out Mark had set the clocks back early!

Students - occasionally the calendar dictates our writing.  Today was one of those times for me.  What on the calendar interests you?  Is there a month, a holiday, a special birthday or anniversary that makes you want to sit and write or sit and draw or sing?

Teachers - DAYS TO CELEBRATE, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, includes calendars with fascinating facts about different dates as well as several timely poems for each month.  It's a handy and interesting classroom resource, illustrated beautifully by Stephen Alcorn.

There are two states in the United States which do not honor Daylight Saving Time.  Do you know which ones they are?  Check npr to find out.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Play is Over in Poem #346

This week, our daughter Hope played Lucia in "A Roman Comedy" at school.  The class did a magnificent job, and we are still celebrating!  Now that the play has ended, though, the actors' lines will slip away until only hints remain.  When I used to act in plays, I was always amazed by how a complete performance would simply disappear bit-by-bit over time.  Even so, snippets of each show always remain and sometimes bubble to the surface of my mind.

I am grateful to have a poem about being in a play in HAMSTERS, SHELLS, AND SPELLING BEES, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins.

School Play

A stage
with velvet curtains
is tucked inside my heart
where you can find me
in my costume
practicing my part
every night -
every day.
I will
be ready
for our play.

Amy LV

Students - today's poem is simply an observation, a bit of a wistful one, but just a thought.  We all have little thoughts that flicker across our minds, and sometimes it's good to capture one in ink.  Brian Andreas draws his Story People with short and very wonderful thoughts.

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