Friday, June 17, 2011

Ballerina and a First Grade Poetry Peek!

Photo by Georgia LV

Students - today's poem and photos come from my piles and files of favorite things.  The peony picture is new; part of our daughter Georgia's summer plan to take many beautiful photographs.  Looking through my poems, I found one that felt perfect with her picture and decided to play with the line breaks, revising until it felt just right.  Doesn't the flower look  like a ballerina dress?  

Sometimes photographs and pictures do fit together.  And it's lots of fun to go back and forth between them, asking, "Does this photo give me a writing idea?" or "Does this poem go with a photo I have taken?"  This summer, I hope to do more of this, match words with pictures - in my notebook, with my camera, and in my mind.  

You might want to think about this too.  Bring a camera and a notebook with you as you walk through the woods or visit Grandma or go camping or fishing.  Take a picture of the pool water, with your camera and with your heart.

Here is little ballerina Georgia, many years ago.  Now she's eight years older than she was in this picture, but she still cracks us up and touches our souls.

Ballerina Georgia
Photo by Amy LV

Today I excited to introduce first grade teacher Kate Sacco and her poet-students from Franklin Elementary in the Kenmore -Town of Tonawanda School District as they share how they read, wrote, and published poems together.

 Teacher Kate Sacco & First Grade Poets

My first graders embarked on our poetry journey this spring.  Very quickly, this journey became an adventure for myself and my students!  We began by consuming.  We read many, many poems by many, many authors.  My students loved the silly poems the best and often asked to have favorites read over and over. 

Next, I handed out small spiral notebooks (about 5" x 8" - see THE PRIMARY UNITS OF STUDY Poetry Unit by Lucy Calkins and Colleagues) with lanyards attached.   This way the notebooks could travel with us throughout our day.  I told the children that the first thing they should do is "harvest words."   Their primary job was to collect words and phrases that they liked or that evoked some kind of emotion.

Along with this we faithfully read The Poem Farm.  I have an Interwrite Mobi with a ceiling mounted projector in my classroom this year.  This allowed us to view the website on the screen in the classroom and interact with the poems.  We were able to use the device to circle words we liked and to highlight parts of the poems together.

Many of the poems and lessons inspired us to go beyond the typical poetry formats.  The children tried their hands at list poems, list with a twist poems, rhyming poems, repeating word and phrase poems, circle poems, mask poems, and many more.  As they worked, I published their poems into a word document, and together we edited for spelling, font, use of white space, and format.

At the end of most writing workshops, I projected the children's poems back on the screen and together (using the Mobi), we added, changed, and enjoyed each other's work.  Once a week, I printed all the newer poems and added them to our poet-tree out in the hall for others to enjoy.

First Grade Poet-Tree (Poems are Leaves!)
Photo by Kate Sacco

Just this week, I handed out the final published anthology of the students' work.  The kids were surprisingly humble.  I asked them to tell me what they learned and what they liked best about learning to write poetry.  Here are some of their responses:

"You can write any kind of poem you want, and it makes you happy." - Kayla H.
"We can play with words." - Kylie F.
"There are no rules in poetry.  You can play with the words." - Olivia E.
"We can write mask poems.  They let you be something else.  Not a plain old person."  - Dante V., Emilie T., Olivia E.
"It was kind of hard at first.  You write a poem and then you're stuck for a minute and you have to sit and think."  - Seth F.

The best thing about writing poetry is:

"You can have fun writing it." - Seth F.
"You get to mess around with your words." - Eric B.
"You can do anything you want." - Olivia E.
"You can say what you like." - Jailynn G.
"It's great to write them!" - Kylie F.
"You can write about anything." - Caelin T.

This was truly an inspiring adventure for all of us.  I learned along with my students and even wrote some poems myself.  Many days, I was left speechless and in absolute awe of the poetry the children created and the creativity, determination and persistence they showed with their writing. 

The Butterfly

A caterpillar goes
into his chrysalis
and out comes
a butterfly.
It likes flowers
and so do you.
It likes you too.

by Evan K. 

Ice Cream

Ice cream is so yummy.
Ice cream is so gummy.
Ice cream is so fummy.
Ice cream is so zummy.
Ice cream is so pummy.
Ice cream is so rummy.
Ice cream is so bummy.
Ice cream is so summy.
Ice cream is so hummy.
Ice cream is so wummy.
Ice cream in my tummy!

by Sierra H.


I am a smile face.
I am never mad.
I am never sad.
I am always happy.
I make lots of friends
When I am happy.
I am a smile face.

by Nick I.

The Sun Comes Out

Rainbows come out
when the sun comes out.
My friends come out
when the sun comes out.
My sister Lily comes out
when the sun comes out.
Bees come out
when the sun comes out.
Flowers come out
when the sun comes out.
Butterflies come out
when the sun comes out.
I come out
when the sun comes out.

by Rosie L.

Ant Haiku

I have ants in my
Pants.  It feels tickley and
Makes me feel bouncy.

by Anthony F.


School, school
I love school.
School, school
School is safe.
School, school
Almost over.
School, school
Leave me never!

by Emily E.

Thank you so much, young poets, for joining us here for Poetry Friday!  What a beautiful way to kick off the summer...with your words!  And thank you to Kate - how lucky your students are to have a teacher who loves learning right along with them.

For more Poetry Friday posts, visit Check It Out and enjoy meandering through more word-fields and forests.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following The Poem Farm by clicking "follow" in the right hand sidebar.  I regularly share poems and feature classroom work and greatly appreciate your show of interest.

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


  1. You know I love this, and the first thing that I will do in my new K classroom is plant our PoetTree!

    Your tutu ballerina poem is so perfectly preschool...have you also a collection of these gems, Amy? : )

  2. Thanks for sharing a fantastic post, Amy! The peony/ballerina opening is perfect. Hats off to Kate Sacco and her talented students. Seth is so right: "You write a poem and then you're stuck for a minute and you have to sit and think." Each poem is terrific; I particularly love Rosie's "The Sun Comes Out." Congratulations to these fine young poets!

  3. I've already cut and pasted this post into my lesson plans for next year - I find my kids are drawn to the silly poems, too, and they'll be tickled by the student poems. As always, thank you for sharing and for keeping the poem farm growing.

  4. Hi, Amy. Love that you coupled the photo with the poem at the top of the post. I agree they go beautifully together. I like Eric B's response to your question about poetry. "You get to mess around with your words." That's my favorite part, too...after you've written the first draft and get to play and play until you get it just right...

  5. I can just about smell that peony through my computer screen! Kudos to Georgia for a great picture!

    Love the poem, too! I'm looking forward to catching up on some blog reading. I know there are lots of other gems in the past weeks (...months???) waiting for me at Poem Farm!

    Hey, do you have any time/interest in hosting a PF round up? You always throw the best parties... :-)

  6. Oh wow! Kate and her poets are so inspiring. I am beginning a coaching journey with a new school and one of our first projects is launching the writing workshop. I can't wait to share Kate's journey!

    And thanks for "Ballerina" - how sweet!

    A Year of Literacy Coaching!

  7. Thank you, poem friends, for your generous words here. It's a treat for me to have the chance to share the work of great teachers in this space.

    And Heidi - I do have some more shorties. Your kind note may get me to pull them out!


  8. This has me oh so very excited! I have about 21 poems that I can plant next week, what a great idea! We just began our poetry journey in Kindergarten and my students are more excited than I could have hoped. I can't wait to tell them about The Poem Farm. Thanks for the invite!