The June project for the poems of the month is to compile all of the poems from the year into a little book. I liked to save all the poems the kids had written all year in a file for each kid. Then at the end of the school year I would punch holes in the top of each poem and tie them together with a ribbon. It made a really nice little keepsake to send home with the children at the end of the school year. I will admit it took a little time to file all the poems each month and then quite a bit of time to tie them all into books, but they are so special for the kids and families to have when they are all finished that it’s totally worth it.
May’s poem of the month is a sort of “year in review” to reminisce as the school year winds down. It is very simple – just list the months and describe each with an adjective. When I first started doing this with third graders, I had a bee theme for the month of May. We called our poems “A Buzzy Year.” They wrote their final copies on beehive shapes and decorated them with bee stickers. I also had a blank book with the same title available at a center so that the kids could write down their favorite memories from the school year in their free time.
Here is a third grader’s poem:
August was hottest
September was fallish
October was scary
December was Christmasy
January was cold
February was loving
March was lucky
April was rainy
May was beautiful
Goodbye Third Grade!
This poem works with any theme (when I moved to fourth grade and the focus was the Indy 500 during the month of May, we titled the poems “Fourth Grade Zoomed By!” and decorated them with race car stickers), and it is a nice year end activity to do even if you haven’t been doing poems each month.
Have a great last month of the school year!
March always makes me think of St. Patrick’s Day and shamrocks. It also makes me think of rainbows – as in the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. So, rainbows are the inspiration for the March poem of the month: a color poem. I always love to read Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill to introduce this activity. Then we practice writing similes. I have kids choose an item of any color they like and write similes about the items. These similes become the color poems. They start out with the line “A ________ is as ________ as” followed by a list of items the same color as the first item. Then comes the line “A ________ is ________ like” followed by a list of more items of that color. The last line of the poem is “A ______ is ______!” This way children get to practice writing similes using both like and as based on just what they see around them – no one needs to get writer’s block because the kids simply need to look around to get their ideas. Here is a poem about the color blue written by a third grader:
A button is as blue as
A button is blue like
A button is blue!
After the poems are written, I have kids recopy them in the colors about which they are written, mount them on those colors, and decorate them with rainbow stickers. I like to display them on a board with a big rainbow – a nice way to brighten up the classroom and welcome spring!
I realize it’s a bit late in the game for 2016 to be posting a poem of the month for February. It’s just that February is such a short month and so packed with holidays: Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, even Ash Wednesday and Leap Day this year… it was hard to squeeze the poem in before now. At least you could use it next year if you’d like. And the coolest thing about this poem is that it actually manages to combine 2 of the holidays: Valentine’s Day and President’s Day.
This is one of the few poems I use that actually rhymes. I learned in college that children (and adults) are often intimidated by writing poetry because figuring out how to make it rhyme can be difficult, so I generally don’t have children write rhyming poetry. However, Valentine’s Day just lends itself to simplistic rhyming poetry (roses are red, violets are blue… you get the idea). In fact, to introduce this activity I usually have the children write a rhyming “Roses are Red” poem as a class. Then I have them choose some words to describe America and list words that rhyme with those words. Finally they put the words together into 4 line patriotic poems. This is a poem written by one of my third graders years ago:
What did you say
Hip hip hooray
Not very intimidating at all, and perfect for celebrating both Valentine’s Day and President’s Day. Just have the kids copy their poems on red hearts and decorate them with red, white, and blue stickers and put them on display.
January’s poem of the month is a winter haiku. Haikus are poems that have a total of 17 syllables – 5 in the first line, 7 in the second line, and 5 in the third line. They are really good to do with kids because they help with practice finding syllables in words as well as solving a math puzzle in order to make the lines have the correct number of syllables. When I do them for January, the kids must write about winter topics. Traditionally haikus are supposed to be about nature, but our winter haikus have covered everything from cold and snow to snowmen to hot chocolate. Here is one about snowmen by a third grader:
I like snowmen lots.
Snowmen are like snow people.
Snowmen are so fun.
After copying their final copies onto light blue construction paper, I had kids decorate them with white construction paper snow and winter stickers before displaying them on our poem of the month bulletin board.
As promised, it’s time for November’s poem of the month. It is a recipe poem, specifically a “Recipe for a Happy Thanksgiving.” I adapted this from a recipe style poem I found in a teacher book a million years ago. The format is very simple to follow:
Line 1: Noun and noun.
Line 2: Noun and noun.
Line 3: Noun so adjective.
Line 4: A complete sentence with some sort of action.
Line 5: Gerund and gerund.
Line 6: Getting more noun.
Line 7: Exclamation!
Line 8: This makes Thanksgiving.
Here is a completed version from one of my former third graders who is all grown up now:
Family and food.
Potatoes and turkey.
Vegetables so good.
The family is coming.
Giving and eating.
Getting more thanks.
This makes Thanksgiving.
For fun you can have kids write their poems on recipe cards.
After all, what says Thanksgiving more than a recipe poem?
I was going to write about a poem of the month for November this week. It’s a really cute poem called “Recipe for a Happy Thanksgiving.” And I still will share it next week, for sure! However, our 3 year old reminded me of the true meaning of Thanksgiving today, and it seemed only right that I share that experience instead.
I had a loooooong to do list today (not exactly the lazy Sunday I wrote about a few weeks back, but -oh well- you can’t win them all I guess). The agenda for today included, church, choir practice, delivering a treat to some new neighbors, laundry, putting away Halloween decorations and toys, getting out Thanksgiving decorations and toys, preparing the outside of the house for winter, making a turkey for the fridge with our daughter, and writing my November poem of the month blog post. Phew! With so much to do, I decided multitasking was a must. So while my husband was out winterizing the house, I was busy doing a load of laundry and making the annual hand print turkey for the fridge with our daughter. I will admit she was less than interested in the task, so I sweetened the deal with glue, sequins, and feathers… many, many feathers. She was suddenly more enthusiastic and ended up making a handprint turkey that looks like a performer in a Las Vegas show. Not exactly what I had planned, but it made me feel happy and thankful for her creative little self.
Then came time to put away the Halloween stuff. Our daughter began to cry as I boxed up a stuffed Halloween toy she had not even touched once during the entire month of October. I tried to cheer her up by showing her the new Thanksgiving toys for her to play with and telling her a very simplified (and not entirely historically accurate) story of the first Thanksgiving. (In a nutshell, I told her that the King of England said the Pilgrims had to go to his church and that made them sad, so they decided to leave England and sailed far across the ocean on the Mayflower. When they arrived at Plymouth Rock they had no food, but some kind Native Americans helped them learn how to grow food. After learning to live in their new home they had a feast to celebrate having food to eat and to thank God for everything they had.) Our daughter then began playing herself and retold the story in her own way, and even invited a few new guests to the feast: Doc McStuffins and Mario. Why not? Here is her version of the first Thanksgiving:
The Pigrims left England because they had no feet. Then they lived in a manger with the Mannequins. Then they prayed to be together forever and there would be cheers. Then they all curved a pumpkin together.
After hearing her tell this story, I was thrilled because I knew she had been paying attention both to me just then and also to her choir teacher earlier in the day who had talked about Jesus in the manger as we practiced our songs for the upcoming Christmas performance. I also was happy that she had clearly enjoyed “curving” her own pumpkin the night before Halloween. But most of all, I felt like for the first time in my life I really, really understood the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Taking the extra time to play with her during my crazy busy day made me short on time to prepare my blog post about a “Recipe for a Happy Thanksgiving,” but it reminded me that the true recipe for a happy Thanksgiving is spending time with my precious family and enjoying special little moments like these. And that while unorthodox or unexpected, the 3 year old version of things is by far the best – especially if it includes a showgirl turkey and Doc McStuffins at the first Thanksgiving feast. When I break the wishbone on Thanksgiving day, my wish will be that I can remember this all year long.
October’s poem of the month is a special kind of poem that illustrates the transition from one thing to another – in this case summer to fall, perfect for October as signs of fall become more and more obvious each day. It is a “diamante” poem because it has a diamond shape to the lines. It has a very specific format which is good for kids who might get overwhelmed trying to write a whole poem from scratch. With this poem, little poets just have to think of one individual word at a time and build their poems from there – and they end up sounding like “real” poetry! It’s also good for teaching and practicing different parts of speech. I have seen a few variations on the instructions in various teacher activity books, but after trying a few different versions this what worked best for my students:
Line 1: “Summer”
Line 2: Two adjectives that describe summer
Line 3: Three “ING” words (gerunds) that you would do in the summer
Line 4: Here’s where the transition starts – Two summer nouns followed by two fall nouns
Line 5: Three “ING” words (gerunds) that you would do in the fall
Line 6: Two adjectives that describe fall
Line 7: “Fall”
This poem was written years ago by one of my third graders:
After the kids made their final copies, I had them cut them out, glue them onto orange, red, yellow, or brown backgrounds and decorate them with fall stickers. I would display them as always on my “Poem of the Month” bulletin board.
Now that back to school season is in full swing (or even wrapping up in some cases), it’s time for the first installment of my poems of the month to use with kiddos in the classroom. (By the way – a little late, but if you want to start poems of the month in August I always had kids write acrostic poems using their names for August. They are simple, quick, and a good way to help kids get acquainted with each other.) September’s poem of the month is an “Ode to a School Supply.” It’s a great way to get kids started writing poems because it’s just a fill in the blank format – very nonthreatening for kids who think they can’t write poetry. Everyone can be successful with this type of poem, so it helps build confidence for future more complex poems. It also helps kids write descriptively about an everyday object – a task that will help them learn to add details to all of their writing. This is a finished sample from a third grader:
Ode to a Pencil
Pencil, oh pencil!
I love how you write.
You help me with drawing,
Your lead is black and
your eraser is pink.
Thank you for being my best school supply.
After writing their poems and editing them, I always had kids publish final copies of their poems and decorate them with school supply stickers before displaying them on my poem of the month bulletin board for September.