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

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