April 12, 2016

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Big and Small, Happy, Sad, Opposite Poems to Make You Glad

Sun or snow?
Yes! Not no.
Fast or slow?
Stop. Then, go!

The Northfield third graders have been working on opposite poems. The full lesson is available here.

How do we get these emerging writers to think beyond writing a simple list of objects? Our model poem, "Swift Things Are Beautiful," was about fast and slow things in nature. Why didn't Elizabeth Coatsworth just put together her poem like this:

Swift Things Are Beautiful (List Version)

Swift Things Are Beautiful:          And Slow Things Are Beautiful:
Swallows, deer, lightning,             Sunset, waves, ember,
rivers, meteors, wind,                  opening flower, ox.
horses, runners.
This weekend, the Preakness is running in Baltimore.
Look for strong-withered horses!
We set up our brainstorming for this lesson much like the above -- a simple t-chart listing items for our poem. We think of three to four items (at least) for each stanza of our opposites poem. But how to take these lists and spin a poem from them?

Many of the students write animal poems: fast/slow, big/small, water/land all lend themselves to animals opposites. I ask these students to give each animal an action. I have an old student sample to read as a model. My favorite line in that poem is "crabs are pinching."

The Blue Crab is Maryland's State Crustacean.
Find a list of state symbols here.
Jeffrey took this advice to heart, extending the animal actions into descriptive lines for his animal opposites poem.

Jeffrey C.

Animals Big and Small Can Be Clever

Big animals can be clever:
Elephants picking up grass with their nose,
Whales squirting water out like a hose,
Giraffes picking leaves from tall trees.

Small animals can be clever:
Mice sneaking away with cheese,
Hummingbirds moving their wings
As fast as a cheetah in the grass,
Grasshoppers jumping around.

Visit BioKids online!
And, as I point out to the students, it's fine if two students write on the same topic. Each person's mind works in unique ways, so the resulting poems will be different. Here is Sam's take on big and small animals.

Samuel H.

Some Animals Are Big

Some animals are big:
Elephants stomping in the mud,
Whales swimming through the water,
Rhinos charging at each other,
Hippos diving into the water.

Some animals are small:
Mice running through the grass,
Beetles flying in the air,
Chipmunks digging into trees,
Turtles swimming
Peacefully in the water.

The Diamondback Terrapin is the Maryland State Reptile.
Ashlyn's Happy-Sad poem starts as a simple list of items. However, in stanza two, her poem moves beyond the list, taking a turn with the word "If."

Ashlyn B.

Happy Things Are Wonderful.

Happy things are wonderful:
When you get an A+ on a test
Or get a massage for your feet.
You win your soccer game
And you get a surprise treat.
None of these things are lame.

Sad things are despicable.
If you hurt yourself
Or lose a toy
And cry for help
Yet no one bothers to come.
If this ever happens
Or comes to your mind,
Just think of the good things
And you will be fine.

Tomorrow, the last group of opposites poems. Then we will build on two elements from this lesson -- brainstorming opposites and using action to describe -- for a workshop on portrait poems.


Amy LV said...

These are wonderful, Laura. I would like to be in your class; these students are so lucky, and I am linking over to these posts right now. Thank you! xo, a.

Author Amok said...

Thanks, Amy! Northfield is one of my favorite schools. The children are lucky to have an excellent team of teachers who work together well. They are primed for poetry by the time I arrive!

I was so impressed with the students portrait poems this year. Wait until I post that lesson and the responses. Wow!

Amy LV said...

I cannot wait to read them! What a resource you are here. Fabulous.

Linda B said...

The poems are terrific, and including those good actions makes all the difference, doesn't it? Thanks for more poems, Laura!

Tabatha said...

Wonderful poems! So many favorite lines. Jeffrey's "Hummingbirds moving their wings As fast as a cheetah in the grass." I like those peaceful turtles of Samuel's. Ashlyn's poem made me think of "My Favorite Things"!

Robyn Campbell said...

What great poetry! Swift Things Are Beautiful is my favorite. I have horses here on our farm. And I love their fluid movements. We might have a Triple Crown winner this year! GO ORB! Check out his stride. EGAD, it's amazing! *waving*