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Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Littlest of Poets Revealed!

Isn't it funny how some things, so small, can be so intimidating at times? I am speaking of beautiful little stanzas of poetry. However, if you thought I was talking about kindergarten students, they definitely have their moments.
I have always loved reading aloud poetry to my students, making song/poetry books for them to read, letting them illustrate poems, lots of fun right!? But rarely did I think about "teaching" my little writers to compose their own poetry. I think that was my problem; they don't really need to be taught. I'll explain in a moment, but I was letting myself think that poetry was only something certain kids could do, only the really "special" ones. Yes, I know. You might be thinking,"what...who is she to could you not encourage everyone...what is wrong with her?" Once again, in my life as a teacher, I WAS WRONG! Totally, by the way, and I can't go back to fix it. But, I can make sure that this year, these kids get the poetry experience they deserve. (Yes, I realize the obnoxiously giddy side of myself is taking over a bit, but like I said, it will all be a little more clear soon)!

It began with me reading poems all week and then the epiphany occurred.
About two weeks ago on a Friday morning, I began thinking...

Okay, they need inspiration, what can I offer? It was a beautiful day, maybe we could go outside? What would they need, maybe nothing, maybe I just convince them they can do this and see what happens?? Wait, their old draft book, take notes, explain later. Okay, sounds good, let's do this!

And, that's what I did. On a whim I quickly set up watercolor paint materials on the tables since that also seemed inspirational. When they walked in the door I told them to get their coat, a skinny marker and their draft book! When they asked, "why are we doing this?" I said, "because we are writing poetry today!" And, yes, I got looks of confusion, but they played along. We went outside to a small, very overgrown floral garden in the backyard. I told the kids to write down or draw anything they saw that interested them. What did they hear, touch, smell? Anything at all was a possible topic. Again, confused looks, but cooperation. The one snag for me was my camera had no battery while we were outside, but my phone worked when we came back in! While were outside I took notes too, wrote a poem of my own and shared it when we went back inside. I told the class to try and capture their little trip outside in a painting. "Paint one thing you loved or everything, whatever feels right." Here they are:

Then I told them:
"Inside of you, right now, is a poem. It is waiting to come out and when you begin writing, it will happen. Poems are stories too, just a little different. Think a little about poems we have read and write your poem. Anything you do will be right."

I gave them a slightly skinny piece of paper to draft their poems.

And, to my amazement, they wrote poems. Real, beautiful kindergarten poems. I was overwhelmed, teary, ecstatic and thinking, "if this is what they do now, then this is going to be more fun than I thought!"
Here is a taste of a few poetic words:

The Flowers
by B
The sun
on the flowers
and the

Flag Flowers
by C
Rain on
And day.

The War
By J
The war between the
Tree and the daffodil.
I don't know who will be in charge.

By P
I like the sun.
I like the squirrel.
I like the butterflies.
I like the playground.
I like the clouds.

Half Sunny and Half Cloudy
By K

By D
The sun is
going in my eyes.
The trees are
The rocks are in the ground.

Outside and My Family
by Z
I see you
And I see flowers
And more and more
And more and more
And look a bush
And a hill
I love poems.
And more
And I love my mom
And dad
And my sister
And my brother.

Outdoors Stuff That Levi Saw
by L
The outdoor
Stuff I just love.
To the trees standing tall.
To the grass below the trees.
I just love the world.


  1. What a fun time you had! I love the pics & the poems. You proved to yourself that they really can do this. I wonder what will be next? The War poem is amazing, Betsy, & the fact that each is unique is wonderful. I think you must have done something just right this day.

    1. This all did feel good! Poem after poem I was so surprised. The War poem came from one of my most timid students. Awesome how poetry can give people a strong voice!

  2. Your kindergartners seem to have a sense of how to conclude a poem. I wonder if that is sort of instinctual, from all the great writing they have been immersed in? This poetry is amazing! I hope you take them on more poetry journeys like this one (and share the results with us)!

    1. You know I haven't been able to put my finger on why these felt so good, and I think you are right, they have endings, conclusions. Interesting observation!

  3. These are fantastic Betsy! What an amazing journey your little writers have had this year. You inspire many!

  4. Your reflection and student poems made me smile. On a Friday morning... maybe.... on a whim - no grandiose plan but an opportunity for something magical to happen.


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