Poetry Behind The Scenes – 1st through 2nd Grades: A Four-Part Series

1st Grade Poets: Make Word Pictures

In first grade, I invite students to call upon feelings and sense memories to create word pictures. Word pictures with lots of details help our readers see what we saw and feel what we felt.

Creating similes helps first graders tap into memories, organize their thoughts, and differentiate sensory experiences.

Winter is silver like coyotes

It sounds like rushing waterfalls

It tastes like chai tea

It smells like eucalyptus oil

Winter makes me feel like playing in the snow

– 1st grade poet

As usual, first graders warm up to write with movement. Clapping games and other physical activities are designed to encourage whole-brain learning and build confidence.

I work with the classroom teachers to link poetry to their curriculum, and this year students also wrote poems that explored where they come from—not just as a geographical location, but in the sights and sounds and tastes all around them:

I come from rice and Bolognese.

I come from trips to Oklahoma.

I come from a red and white two-story house.

I come from my mom who works hard every day.

(Each line was written by a different 1st Grade Poet.)

2nd Grade Poets: Zoom in on Small Moments

“It’s time for Poetry!” There are excited whispers all around as 2nd graders filter into the classroom after yard time.

I’m greeted with lots of hugs and enthusiasm—I attribute this excitement to the wisdom of Lisa and Terri, who decided that, starting in DK, each Willows student would have Poetry every year.

When it comes time to writing on the first day of class, 2nd graders are primed and ready.

My voice is like a cat walking across a piano.

My imagination is like a soft blanket that just came out of the dryer.

My mind is like people at a meeting, talking, and debating.

My breath is a gargoyle trapped in stone.

Each line was written by a different 2nd grade poet

And soon we get to haiku – the perfect form for this age. As we work on counting syllables, we zoom in on important details that come from observation.

The study of haiku integrates smoothly with 2nd grade curriculum: especially the concept of the watermelon (big idea) and the seed (small moments). Plus, we can tie into their study of the ocean:

Marianna Trench

creepy, round and crescent-shaped

what could be down there?

– 2nd grade poet

Second grade poetry is a blast. It’s always inspiring to hear students’ ideas, and even more gratifying to watch them come up with images, count syllables in the 5-7-5 pattern, and master a form.

Watch for a Poetry Night performance piece based on haiku!

To learn more about what Deb does, feel free to check out her website at: www.debstudebaker.com

You can follow her on Twitter: @mindbodypoetry

Poetry Behind The Scenes – DK through K: A Four-Part Series

People have questions and roses have answers

– 5th grade poet

Poetry at The Willows

Poetry Night arrives every winter at The Willows! It’s an exciting event embraced by the entire school community. Yet long before the poets take the stage in February, poems are popping throughout the school.

My name is Deb; I’m a writer and movement educator who is privileged to teach poetry at The Willows. As I work my way through every grade level in a five-lesson time frame, each student has a chance to imagine, feel, and remember—then paint those pictures in words.

My goal is to make poetry a playful, interactive, relevant experience. Come with me behind the scenes and peek into our creative process. 

DK Poets: Move, Play, Wonder

How to teach poetry in DK? Read to the children, play with them, ask them questions! Questions and games facilitate the flow of words and feelings.  

Here, a crawl tunnel makes expressing creative ideas an engaging experience! First, I ask a question. Then I encourage the children to crawl through the tunnel like an animal. They pop out to share their answers in the voice of that animal!

Crawling is a developmental movement that primes the brain for learning; we’re building learning readiness as we build our poems, a line at a time.

Here, our youngest students are learning to make word pictures by drawing their answers to fill-in-the-blank questions, like sometimes I feel____. 

Kindergarten Poets: Play with Words

Silliness rules in Kindergarten!  I encourage the children to have fun with language, so we first explore poetry through nursery rhymes and books they may already know. 

Then we build on the sounds they’re learning in class, and turn them into silly sentences full of alliteration, like:

Taco’s Tiger taught a pterodactyl to talk too much!

Kindergartners also create individual poems, where I ask them to imagine, remember and add details. As in DK, the children respond to questions after lots of movement and play.

In this example, our “ties that bind” school-wide theme served as inspiration for a poetic form:

When I’m in 3rd grade I will remember

my blue Super Wings plane named “Jerome”

my blue sequined dinosaur shirt

my blue cotton candy

and eating spaghetti at home with my mom and dad.

– Kindergarten poet

It’s a joy to witness the excitement, the honesty and the clarity that these five and six- year-olds bring to their poems. Poetry isn’t some abstract art. We make it concrete as we play with our words.

To learn more about what Deb does, feel free to check out her website at: www.debstudebaker.com

You can follower her on Twitter: @mindbodypoetry

An Expression of Intersession – A Look into this Past Week.

It’s a wrap!

This first week back, the entire school departed from the day-to-day school curriculum and partook in a week-long adventure into Intersession. Intersession is an immersive five-day period, which offers a different approach to project-based, experiential learning, and an opportunity to fully integrate our disciplines in a fresh, illuminating academic experience. During this time, students take a break from regular academics to participate in a variety of classes that tie into the schoolwide theme of “The Ties That Bind Us.” It offers students another path to expand their learning beyond the classroom. While it is just one week out of the year, Intersession is a powerful way to strengthen curiosity, enhance cross grade level relationships with teachers and students, and expand the joyful learning that is central to The Willows’ mission and educational philosophy.

From creating a carnival from scratch to developing street art and street wear (and many things in between), The Willows’ Intersession program features a diverse and exciting line-up of experiential learning opportunities to open minds and hearts to possibilities.

Here are the general skills involved in the Intersession classes:

  • Cooperation and teamwork, planning, problem solving, collaboration, overcoming challenges, physics concepts, cause and effect, trial and error, evaluating and prioritizing, sequencing, interpretation of different possible outcomes, and design thinking.

Take a peek at some of the wonderful projects and learning that went on:

Carnival (DK-K):

Willows City (1-2):

Escape Rooms (3-5):

Create Your Own Sport or Board Game (3-5):

Bridges (3-5):

Become a Storyteller, Write a Radio Play (3-5):

World of Felt: Felted Food Stories (3-5):

Street Art and Street Wear (3-5):

Macrame and Ceramics (3-5):

The T’S That Bind Us (6-8):

Creative Design That Binds (aka Fancy Forts) (6-8):

Catapults: The Tie That Binds Science, Latin, and Math (6-8):

Band Together! (6-8):

Think Biggerer! (6-8):

On Wednesday, January 15 from 6 pm to 7 pm, The Willows will be showcasing many of the creative and technical projects that were created during Intersession at Family Ed Night.

Hope to see you there!