Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

Archive for the tag “children”

Determining the value of a wheel-barrow ride

As loving parents, we strive to provide our kids with not only their basic needs of food, shelter, clothing and such – but also intangibles such as love, happiness, and positive memories. Of course, the term “positive memories” is wide open to interpretation and can mean lots of different things to different people.

Often, those memories aren’t even what we, as parents, think are worth remembering.

Over the weekend, I got to wondering about what memories my 3-year-old son will end up with – and if they’ll be the ones I expect.

The joys of yard work

He’s a hard worker, that one.

He may only be 3, but that doesn’t stop my son from helping me outside. And it’s not just that he wants to help – he actually helps me.  When I’m cutting down branches from overgrown trees, he’ll pull the branches out of my way and toss them in a brush pile I’ve shown him. If I’m splitting firewood, he’ll gather up the small pieces of wood and set them aside for kindling.

This weekend, I was raking leaves (this time of year, it feels like that’s all I do!) and he wanted to help, so I gave him a small rake and let him do his thing. Once I had piled as many leaves  as I could into my wheel-barrow, I would pick him up, set him on top of them, and give him a ride all the way over to our compost pile near the edge of the woods.

To him, this was the most fun thing in the history of fun things…and so I had to do it all afternoon, every time the wheel-barrow was full.  He didn’t realize it, but he was helping me by keeping the leaves from blowing away. I didn’t realize it, but I just might have been giving him a lasting memory.

‘Quality time’ is relative

The reason I say it “might” be a lasting memory is because I have learned – through having two older daughters – that kids remember what they think is important, not you.  What a parent might feel is an earth-shatteringly colossal event may not even appear as a blip on their children’s recollective radar.

I have friends who have taken their one- and two-year-old kids to Disneyland, ice shows, and live children’s theatre performances…and I can’t help but wonder what the kids think. Now, don’t get me wrong – I have no problem with anyone doing any of these things. I just doubt that the kids will have any lasting memory of these experiences either because they’re a) too young to be able to remember them later in life, or b) the events simply won’t have as much impact on the kids as their parents think.

With my two girls (well, ok, technically they’re women now, but don’t remind me), many of the things they recall I barely remember. More than once, I’ve been part of a  conversation that went more or less like this: “Remember the time when mom said ‘blah-de-blah,’ and then you were like, ‘blah-de-blah-de-blah,’ and then she did ‘this’ and you did ‘that’ and then something happened and then something else happened and then you were all like ‘blah-de-blah-de-frickety-blah?!’  That was so funny!!”

And I’m sitting there, staring, wondering where I was when this hilarious incident supposedly occurred.

It may not have been the Ice Capades, but it was certainly memorable…whatever the heck it was.

A matter of perspective

Phil V

Country singer/songwriter Phil Vassar

A few years ago, country singer Phil Vassar and I were talking about kids (he has a couple of girls, too) and what it’s like being a parent trying to keep up with them while time flies by so quickly.  He related a story about how he and his family had an opportunity to meet President George W. Bush while he was still in office.

Phil told me that he was asking the girls a couple of years later what they enjoyed about their visit to the White House – and they didn’t remember any of the supposed ‘highlights.’

He asked if they recalled meeting the president. No.  He asked if they remembered what the White House looked like. Not really. Did they remember anything that happened while they were there?? Wait, one of them said…she thought she did remember something. That was the place that had the tall, fancy vase in the corner with the pink flowers that smelled so nice?

And poor Phil was the one who ended up scratching his head, trying to remember this completely random fact that was his daughter’s most captivating – and possibly only – memory of meeting the President of the United States.

Proof again that what we think is important and what our kids think is important are two totally different thinks.

Wheel-barrows, leaf piles, and fire trucks

When I rake leaves, I don’t just let my little dude ride in the wheel-barrow; I let him jump into the huge piles I create. Yes, it’s more work for me, having to re-rake and re-rake many times over…but it’s fun for him, and I hope it will be something that he remembers when he gets older. I have to admit it’s also fun for me, watching the little nut roll around in the leaves and toss them in the air, laughing hysterically as they fall down around him and on his face.

He also loves trucks – any kind of trucks. If it’s got a motor and wheels, he wants it. He may only be 3, but he knows the difference between a skid steer and a Bobcat, and the difference between a forage harvester and a combine. The day I brought him to the fire station to look at the engines close-up was a day I’ll never forget, mostly because I don’t think he blinked once, the whole time we were there.

Will it be a lasting memory? Who knows…but he enjoyed it, and that was good enough for me.

After all, ultimately it’s not about the memories, but about the experiences themselves.  And rather than second-guess myself, I’ll just enjoy my time with him and his siblings and provide them with as much happiness, support, and love as I can and let them decide what’s worth remembering.

You know, I here there’s a monster truck show coming to town…

===================================================================

PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Shadows”

Shadows - poem & pic

Amy at The Poem Farm has today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

===================================================================

PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter , Facebook, Pinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “First Day in the Cafeteria”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllOK, ok…so I’m a bit late. I know, school has already started and here I am without my late pass.

Students have been back to their classes for one or two weeks now and although I had wanted to post this earlier, I kept forgetting!  Between my wife’s and my lack of sleep with the arrival of our new daughter, Phoebe, 4 weeks ago and that 5-day-long weekend announcing gig at the local fair, my time – and my mind – have both taken some serious hits.

But, hey, today’s Friday the 13th! What better day to write about school?!?

And remember…there’s plenty more poetry out there. For the complete Poetry Friday roundup, be sure to visit Jen at Teach Mentor Texts!

“First Day in the Cafeteria”        

They could have served us burgers.
They could have served us fries.
They could have served us mac ‘n cheese
or deep-fried chicken thighs.

They could have served cold pizza
or greasy beef pot pies,
so why oh why – our first day back -
do we get “Chef’s Surprise??”

- © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

===================================================================

PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter , Facebook, Pinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Pencils”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllAs I was looking over this year’s poems, wondering which I should share today, I happened upon this one.

I wondered if I should post it because it feels different from some of the other children’s poetry I’ve written, and I debated with myself if it was done, if it was good, if it was anything.  Being the type who can debate with himself at length, a draw was declared with no discernible winner.  So I did what any self-respecting writer would do.

I revised!

And truth be told, I still don’t know if it’s done, good, or anything. But I do know that I wrote it on 5-9-13 and revised it on 9-5-13…so I’ll take that as a little sign that I’m supposed to share this today. Plus, with the kids back in school now, it’s timely, at least.

Hope you like it! (And I hope it’s done) For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup – and one of my favourites from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – be sure to visit Laura at Author Amok!

shutterstock_96665545 (colored pencils)“Pencils”

That’s what we are,
you and I
and the lady at the store
and that short kid
with the glasses
we met
during lunch.
Different colors,
sizes,
lengths…yet
inside,
each one capable
of our own kind of
magic
and filled with stories
yet to be written.

- © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

===================================================================

PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter , Facebook, Pinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “To the Newborn (for Phoebe)”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI can’t believe a week has already flown by since my new daughter, Phoebe, arrived. It’s been a busy week, too: getting adjusted to having a baby in the house, helping our 3-year-old to become acclimated to the concept (he’s a great little big brother), plus helping my wife as much as possible while she recovers from her C-section.

All this on top of trying to run my voiceover business while prepping for a big, 5-day-gig as the announcer at the local state fair Labor Day weekend.

Oh, and did I mention that on Wednesday I dropped a 6-foot, 8-inch diameter log on my left big toe, splitting the nail in half?  (Yeah, that was a big, fat ouch, let me tell you). So it’s been a crazy, crazy, crazy busy week.

I’ve had the idea for this poem since she was born, by the way – but considering all of the above, I didn’t have time to put it to paper until last night. Normally, I don’t share first drafts, but this is actually a 3rd-draft, and I’m fairly happy with it…although I’m sure I’ll tinker with it again tomorrow, and the next day, and next week, and…well, you know how poets are.

Gotta run…I hear a baby crying! For more poetry, visit today’s Poetry Friday hostess, Betsy, at I Think In Poems!

.

Phoebe - 1  week

Phoebe Kenna-Rose, on her 1-week birthday. And yes, those cheeks ARE exceedingly pinch-able.

“To the Newborn (for Phoebe)”

Little one,
with eyes wide
to a world
you cannot see,
find comfort in the world
you know:
sustenance
in your mother’s breasts,
security
in father’s arms,
peace
in the familiar.

Enjoy the warm sweetness
of milk on your tongue,
smile at dreams only you
can know,
and sleep soundly
safely
as long as you like…

for you, little one,
do not know
this world beyond
your world.
This world that awaits
knows neither
comfort
nor sustenance
nor safety.
But it will,
little one,
soon

be yours.

You do not yet realize
this world
you so depend upon
depends
on you.

- © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

===================================================================

PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter , Facebook, Pinterest, and SoundCloud!

Are our kids as special as we think they are? Are WE??

As many of you know, my wife gave birth to her second child (my fourth) last week.  Little Phoebe arrived Thursday morning weighing in at a substantially healthy 9 pounds, 7 ounces and 21 inches. Phoebe - 2nd dayTake a look at that photo. Isn’t she adorable? Isn’t she cute? Isn’t she special?

Well, she’s adorable, yes. Definitely cute as all get-out. And to me, she’s one of the four most special things in the world (as I said, I have three other kids, too!)

But just because she’s special to me and my wife…is she actually special?

Definitions v. semantics

I know what you’re thinking. How can you possibly doubt how special your newborn child is, you heartless, unfeeling clod?!?  Please, please, please do not misunderstand me. My daughter is a very special little girl and I love her dearly. But stop for a moment and try to see what I’m getting at.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word “special:”

1) distinguished by some unusual quality; especially being in some way superior
2) held in particular esteem
3) readily distinguishable from others of the same category

So let’s apply these definitions to Phoebe. Is she distinguished by some unusual quality?  She primarily has her mom’s face – eyes, cheeks, bone structure. She has my lips…and so far, my appetite. But her mom’s features come from her dad, who got his from his mother. My lips – and my appetite – both come from my father. Still, like all babies, she takes a dab of this chromosome and a smidgeon of this other chromosome to become her own unique person; similar to all those who came before, but unlike anyone else.

Is she held in particular esteem? Certainly she is, by her mom and me. Her sisters and brother also think she’s the most special thing ever, and of course all our family members love her. But if she’s truly special by definition, how is her ‘specialness’ different from the ‘specialness’ of her siblings or cousins or anyone else’s babies?

Oh, and that last one – “readily distinguishable” from other babies? Well, we think so – but show a baby picture to any random person on the street and you’re lucky if they can even figure out if it’s a boy or a girl.

So these definitions only get us so far.  That’s where semantics come into play.  We, as parents, all like to think of our kids are the most special kids in the world. And they ARE special…to us. But how does their ‘specialness’ rank in the grand scheme of things?

It appears there is  ‘specialness,’ and then there’s ‘specialness.’

88 million and counting

That’s approximately how many births there have been in the world just this year, according to Worldometers.com, as of this writing.

Eighty-eight million. Just. This. YEAR.

There are also about 350,000 births, each DAY.

That’s a lot of specialness.

Now again, please don’t get me wrong. My child is extremely special to me and my wife, and I love her and her siblings more than life itself. But as I held her in the hospital room, her little sleepy head resting in the crook of my arm, one of the biggest problems with our world today suddenly became crystal-clear…

If we’re all born so special, why bother trying once we’re older?

Think about it. If we drill the specialness, uniqueness, and wonderfulness of our kids into their heads every day, where is the drive to become better?  I’m not saying we shouldn’t praise our kids, support them, love them – but I do think taking a step back and surveying the situation is not a bad idea. Consider…

shutterstock_96665545 (colored pencils)

If we’re all so darn special…isn’t anybody average?

We live in a culture of self-centeredness.

Customer service reps often act like customers are an intrusion.  Teenagers’ self-shots – photos they take of themselves – rule Facebook and Twitter. American Idol hopefuls with absolutely no discernible talent show up in front of the judges and get laughed off the stage because no one in their family or social circle ever informed them they couldn’t sing.

If you’ve ever watched Idol – and statistically, you probably have – you’ve witnessed tons of young people crying their eyes out because all this time they thought they were special, only to have reality smack them upside the head. It’s a hard lesson for someone that special to learn.

Then again, what do I know?

That’s a serious question.  What DO I know? I never claim to have all the answers or to know everything. Truth be told, I hardly know anything.  I’m still re-reading this post, debating with myself if I’m right or not.

You see, I’m just a parent with some special kids who were raised to understand that what one does during the course of one’s lifetime is what defines a person.  We all get judged by what we do with our lives; we do not get judged for simply showing up.

As far as I know, there was only one person in this world who was born with intrinsic ‘specialness’ – but he was hung on a cross.  As for the rest of us, it might not be a bad idea to try to make an effort to carve out our own uniqueness, earning that distinction rather than relying on others to bestow it upon us baselessly.

One doesn’t need to be rich to be successful. One doesn’t need to be famous to be respected.

And one doesn’t need to be born special…to be special.

===================================================================

PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter , Facebook, and Pinterest!

Poetry Friday: “The Kids Are Away” – plus links, links, links!

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI know, I’m a day early…but my wife is giving birth today to her 2nd child (my 4th), and I thought she might be a tad annoyed with me if I spent my time in front of the computer rather than by her side.

And honestly, by her side is the only place I want to be right now.

So I’m sharing with you a poem I wrote several years ago – 2001, as a matter of fact. It came about as I was enjoying some quiet time with my first wife while our two  daughters were away visiting their grandparents. It’s a children’s poem for adults, if that makes sense. Hope you like it.

“The Kids Are Away”

Nothing has been broken.
Nothing has been torn.
No clothes are piled upon the floor
after they’ve been worn.

There’s been no angry yelling
and no one’s hurt or mad.
This house seems awful quiet
when there’s just a mom and dad.

- © 2001, Matt Forrest Esenwine

.
Now, for the links!

For the complete Poetry Friday roundup, please visit Steps and Staircases!

Also, please be sure to check out my interview with children’s author/poet David Elliott at Poetry at Play from earlier this week, if you haven’t already!

Finally, I’d like to give a quick shout-out to my online critique group, Poet’s Garage! This is one extremely talented crew, and I’m honoured that they accepted me into their clan just a few months ago. Click on the graphic below to learn a little more about each of us, and if you follow Poetry Friday with any kind of regularity, I’m sure you’ll recognize many of the faces and names!

Thanks for visiting, and the next time we talk, you’ll hear a baby in the background!  (Well, I will, anyway)  Have a great weekend!

===================================================================

PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter , Facebook, and Pinterest!

Interview with Children’s Poet/Author David Elliott

photo courtesy of Michael Seamens

I have had the opportunity to interview some incredible folks over the years. Just from the children’s literature universe, I’ve chatted with folks like Lee Bennett Hopkins, Charles Ghigna, J. Patrick Lewis, Douglas Florian, and newcomer Vikram Madan.

While working in radio, I interviewed rock stars like Alice Cooper, the guys from Def Leppard, Rik Emmett of Triumph, and others.

I’ve also interviewed lots of country music artists from Charlie Daniels to Jason Aldean, from Ricky Skaggs to Jeff Foxworthy.

But until now, I had never interviewed someone who lived in the same town I do!

The bottle-washing, English-teaching, popsicle-stick-maker-next-door

I just completed an interview with children’s author and poet David Elliott, who already has an impressive catalogue of titles and is currently under contract for 6 more to come out over the next couple years. He’s also currently working on a number of other projects, including a middle grade book and a YA novel. Yes, he’s a busy fellow.

I invite you to read more about David at the Poetry Advocates for Children and Young Adults blog, Poetry at Play. It was for PACYA that I did this interview, and being able to visit David at his home just a couple miles away from me and chat about writing and living and our surprising connections was a wonderful experience. Who knew that both he and I formerly lived in the same part of VT before moving to our current homes?

Who knew we both shared the same “writer’s worry” of not being able to execute our ideas the way they deserve?

And what are the odds that he had been inside my home – visiting the former owner – before I had even been inside my home?

Inspiration, research, and the importance of getting out of the way

I hope you enjoy the interview!  We talk about why inspiration is overrated, the vast amount of research that is sometimes necessary to write a two-stanza poem, and one of the most important things a writer – any writer – can do.

Again, here’s that link: Poetry at Play

And thank you, as always, for stopping by!

===================================================================

PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter , Facebook, and Pinterest!

Poetry Friday: “My Book Report”

I thought I’d go waaaaay back in time for today’s post – back to the fall of 2000!

poetryfridaybutton-fulllThis is one of the first few children’s poems I ever wrote (I started writing for children in ’99, I believe), but when I read it today, it doesn’t feel that old, if that makes sense.  Sometimes when you’re developing a skill - whether it’s writing, singing, painting, whatever – you can tell the older, unskilled work from the newer, more polished stuff.  Personally, I can tell it’s not new…but I’m not embarrassed by it, either (and yes, there are plenty of poems that will never see the light of day for that very reason).

Since the school year is winding down and graduations are ubiquitous these days, I thought a little school-themed poetry might be nice. Hope you like it! And for all of today’s Poetry Friday offerings – including some delicious Mango Bread and a poem by Lesléa Newman – visit Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup!

“Book Report”

My teacher said I have to write
a book report for class -
at least one hundred-fifty words,
or else I will not pass.

So here I sit with pen in hand
and nothing in my mind;
if I don’t get this handed in
I’ll be in quite a bind.

There must be some creative way
I can begin the text:
I know my name, I know the date,
I don’t know what comes next.

Come on, now, brain, you’ve got to think
and help me get this done!
It’s due tomorrow morning, and
I’ve not even begun!

But wait – that’s it – I’ve got it now!
I know just what I need!
The first thing that I’ll have to do…
is find a book to read.

- © 2000, Matt Forrest Esenwine

ID-10052692 (books)

Hands-On Poetry for Kids!

(I debated with myself whether or not to post this today.  After the horrific and cowardly act of terrorism in Boston, Mass. yesterday, I wondered if the light and breezy topic of kids learning to read and write and enjoy poetry seemed a bit out of place. Only living a couple of hours away, I have numerous friends and family in the Boston area, so the tragedy struck especially lose to home for me.

But then I realized: in times like these, giving your kids as much time as you can give them is one of the most important things you can do.  I hope you find something positive in this post, and that you’ll keep the victims of the Boston bombing in your hearts, thoughts, and prayers. Thank you.)

———————————————————————————————————————

As you probably know by now, this is National Poetry Month, so I’ve been dedicating each of my blog posts to the craft.  Today I wanted to share three ways that kids (and grown-ups, too, for that matter) can enjoy poetry without necessarily realizing they’re learning!

#1) Play with your food

This is a fun and easy project perfect for family gatherings where there will be several kids around, looking for things to do.  Glazed cookies with words written on them can be combined to form sentences…and the fun & learning comes from both the creating and the playing!

Poem CookiesYou’ll need:

1 box of vanilla wafers
2 cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
2 1/2 - 3 Tablespoons water
Food colouring, if desired
Edible marking pens, like FooDoodlers or Wilton FoodWriters

Make a white glaze for the cookies by combining the sugar with 2 1/2 tablespoons of water. If it’s too thick, add a little more until it’s spreading consistency. You don’t want it too thin, though – so be careful. It’s easier to add more water than to add more sugar, so having it a bit on the thick side is preferable - especially if you’re going to add food colouring.

Once the glaze is made, divide it into 2 or 3 bowls, if you plan on colouring it. Add just a little food colouring, as you’ll want to keep the colours light.  Be sure to cover the bowls to keep the glaze from drying out!

Now, frost your vanilla wafers with the glaze and allow to harden (depending on its thickness, this could take 10-15 minutes or more than an hour). Once dry, write words on each of the cookies with the pens!  For the batch of Easter cookies in the photo, I made the nouns pink, verbs yellow, and adjectives blue, just to keep them organized. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to buy the markers, so I used dark food colouring and water with some corn starch to create an edible paint and painted the words on with a fine (clean!) paintbrush.

Kids not only enjoy making these, but they love being able to play with their food…and who can blame them??

#2) Finding found poems

Seuss-cat-hatIf you don’t know what a ‘found poem’ is, that headline’s grammar may seem a bit off. But found poems are a great way to get children to read their books – or read anything, really – in a totally different way.

A found poem is a poem that one ‘finds’ inside another written work – a poem, a story, a news article, even a catalogue or advertisement. You simply scan the words and lines, searching for an element, a phrase, a theme…by which you can tie together other words and phrases within that written work.

In this case, a child can find found poems inside the books they already read and enjoy! Take, for example, the classic “The Cat in the Hat.”  Pulling lines from pages 1, 2, 8, 11, 40, 54, and 58, I came up with this rather dark and not-too-kid-friendly poem:

The sun did not shine.
I sat there with Sally;
Mother, out of the house.
He should not be here.
Run down the hall,
shut the box,
and he was gone.

Sheesh, I think I just spooked myself with that one. But you get the idea. One never knows what kinds of images or connections can be made by tying together words and phrases that at first seem disparate.

Sometimes the poem you create summarizes the main text; other times, you find yourself heading off in a totally different direction, as I just did.  Even for younger kids, simply searching for and combining similar rhyming words helps them recognize sounds and reinforces spelling. And for someone like me who loves word puzzles and wordplay, it’s a fun exercise!

#3) ‘Nothing’ is really something!

This is a good classroom activity; it’s something I often do when speaking to a class about creative writing, and it invariably impresses half the kids and bums out the other half.  It’s a simple way to show that we never do nothing, and it’s interesting to hear what words come up during this conversation…

Very simply, I ask who in the classroom has ever done nothing. Hands go up. I ask specific children, “So, when you were doing nothing, what were you doing?” Answers range from sleeping (which, of course, is something) to watching TV (which is also something) to being dead (which, while morbid, is incorrect; I explain that if you’re dead, you’re decomposing – so you’re still doing something!).

Once the kids get an idea of where this heading, I write down “Nothing” at the top of the blackboard and have them all do the same on a piece of paper.  I ask the children to shout out words that come to mind when they think of ‘nothing,’ and I write 3 or 4 responses below. I then ask them to give me words that come to mind when they think of these words and write down 2 or 3 words for each of the previous words…and then do the same for each of those words.  It only takes 4 levels of words before you have a good 35-40 words on the blackboard.

I then proudly announce that, the next time they tell their teacher they have ‘nothing’ to write about…take a look at their paper!

As I said, some of the kids think the concept of this ‘word-tree’ is cool. But the ones who are used to trying to get out of doing their work don’t seem to like it as much. Go figure!

“Poetry can be fun…really!”

That is the message I try to get across to kids – and adults, for that matter. So many people have the impression stuck in their mind that children’s poetry is simple, repetitive, and boring while adult poetry is all big words, incomplete sentences, and baffling subject matter. That’s not true! There’s so much good poetry out there – and so varied – that one is bound to stumble upon a poem(s) that speaks to them.  It’s just a matter of understanding what poetry is, then finding the type of poetry that you like.

Google your favourite topic and the word ‘poetry’ and you just might be surprised at what pops up. “Pizza” + “poetry” yields 9,570,000 results.  “Baseball” and “poetry” yields 40,300,000 results.  And “Love” + poetry” yields 289,000,000 results - but we could have all guessed that would be off the charts. (Speaking of baseball poetry, be sure to check out Ed Decaria’s work at The Hardball Times - good stuff)

I hope you’ll take some time this April – National Poetry Month! – to read a little poetry, write a little poetry, and enjoy the experience as so many of us do!

Prog poem 2013 graphicRemember, Irene Latham’s 2013 ‘Progressive Poem’ (at Live Your Poem) is now halfway completed! This is a poem that started with one blogger April 1 and is travelling from blog to blog each day, with each blogger adding a new line to the poem. (By the end of the month, we’ll have a completed poem!) Here’s the complete list of all of this year’s participating bloggers, including Yours Truly, so you can follow along:

April Amy Ludwig VanDerwaterJoy AceyMatt Forrest EsenwineJone MacCullochDoraine BennettGayle KrauseJanet FagalJulie LariosCarrie Finison 10  Linda Baie 11  Margaret Simon 12  Linda Kulp 13  Catherine Johnson 14  Heidi Mordhorst 15  Mary Lee Hahn 16  Liz Steinglass 17  Renee LaTulippe 18  Penny Klostermann 19  Irene Latham 20  Buffy Silverman 21  Tabatha Yeatts 22  Laura Shovan 23  Joanna Marple 24  Katya Czaja 25  Diane Mayr 26  Robyn Hood Black 27  Ruth Hersey 28  Laura Purdie Salas 29  Denise Mortensen 30  April Halprin Wayland

Post Navigation

Laura Purdie Salas

writing the world for kids

Eat This Poem

a literary food blog

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

The Drawer Of M. M. Socks

Stories - Tall and Short for the Tall and Short

Catherine Johnson

Poems for kids of all ages and dreamers everywhere

You've Got Your Hands Full

Just another WordPress.com site

Jama's Alphabet Soup

an eclectic feast of food, fiction and folderol

Creative Writing with the Crimson League

Creative Writing Tips and Authorial Support from Fantasy Writer Victoria Grefer

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

The blog of children's author Tara Lazar

Julie True Kingsley's Blog

Musings on really nothing...

Dave Courvoisier's Blog

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

sharon abra hanen

children's literature, poetry, & other creative magical stuff

crackles of speech.............. poems for all ages................... by steven withrow

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

J.S. Gilbert

Copywriting, Advertising Creative, Voice Over Talent and a few surprises

The Poem Farm

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

DAN O’DAY TALKS ABOUT RADIO

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,161 other followers

%d bloggers like this: