I always feel vindicated when my 4th-grader realizes I was right, all along. Not that I’m vain or egotistical or anything – it’s just that it happens so rarely, it’s kind of a nice change of pace! So imagine how proud I was of him last week, after he groaned about a poetry project he had to do for his remote-learning schoolwork…and then realized it was fun.
It was an online “magnet poetry” sort of thing. On the right side of the computer screen, there were dozens of words on multiple pages from which he could choose to make a poem; he simply needed to pick words and put them into some semblance of a poem. He started off whining and complaining about not knowing how to do it, and then (as anyone with kids could guess) started whining about not knowing what to say.
So of course, I jumped in to help provide him some direction and guidance – “All my years of writing poetry have prepared me for this moment!” – and show him it wasn’t as difficult or as boring as he was thinking. Once he got the first couple of lines down, I told him he’d done a good job and might want to add one more line and he could be done.
But he wasn’t going to stop there. Oh, no.
He wrote another few lines, and I told him I really liked what he’d done. He could finally turn it in! But no.
He continued for at least an hour, putting words together and fine-tuning it until he got to this:
Through the water
blue wings show dark rain
dinosaur ghosts roar
in the monster moonglow
storms sail to sea
cool black tigers see red summers
wild adventures begin wonder.
Dinosaur ghosts? Monster moonglow? Who is this kid?? Yep, what could have been a short, 3-line haiku turned into a 7-line opus. I’ll be honest: this is far better than the first poem I ever wrote! Moreover, he was so happy and excited about it he almost didn’t want to stop. I had told him not to look at it as work (even though, as a writer, I know it is) but to look at it more as a word puzzle and to have fun. Sure enough, he did!
The 2020 Progressive Poem continues all month…
The annual Progressive Poem, begun several years ago by poet/author/blogger Irene Latham, is a way for the Poetry Friday family and other kidlit bloggers to join together and create a crowd-sourced poem for National Poetry Month. One person writes one line, then another adds another line, until a completed poem appears on April 30. This year, Irene handed off the organizational duties to Margaret Simon, who has pulled everyone together once again. I added my line last week, and it continues to grow! Here’s where you can follow along and find all the contributors:
1 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 Michelle Kogan at Michelle Kogan
Molly is hosting Poetry Friday today, so head on over to Nix the Comfort Zone for all of today’s links and poetry fun – and…can you smell it? Fresh bread, too!
I hope you’ll check out my “Wit & Wordplay” videos on my YouTube channel! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) and focus on how to write poetry, how to appreciate it, and offer tips on having fun with it. Be sure to subscribe or check back often, as more videos continue to be created. You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.
I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them, too! In addition to April’s two releases, there are new books out from folks like Diana Murray, Corey Rosen Schwartz, Lori Degman, Michelle Schaub, and many others. I’m very proud to be part of this group of dedicated, talented writers.
Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!
You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!
Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)
Thank you to everyone for your support!
- NY Public Library’s “100 Best Book for Kids 2017” AND “Staff Pick!”
- KIRKUS Starred review!
- Kansas NEA Reading Circle Recommended Books!
- “Best Reads of 2017,” Unleashing Readers
- Finalist, 2019 New Hampshire Literary Awards
- Positive reviews from Horn Book, School Library Connection, School Library Connection, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and Shelf-Awareness!
- “Rollicking rhyme!” – Booklist
- “A wild romp!” – Parenting NH Magazine
- “Cute…intriguing…4 out of 5 stars” – Tulsa Book Review
- “Rhythmic…funny and informative” – Unleashing Readers
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14 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Score one for Poetry: A school project becomes fun!”
A beautiful poem, indeed! I think your encouragement and guidance along the way contributed much to your son’s success. Thanks for sharing, and kudos to your son’s teacher for encouraging creativity.
Thanks, Rose. They are keeping a poetry journal, and every now & then his teacher incorporates a poem into the lesson plan, whether it’s writing, science, or math!
I love your son’s poem. If I didn’t think of poems as puzzles to play with, I don’t think I would ever finish one.
I agree, good way to look at it! Thanks, David.
Hooray for your son finding the fun in poetry, and coming up with a terrific poem in the process! I love “dinosaur ghosts roar!”
Thanks, Catherine! Yes, that’s my favorite line, too…love the image of dinosaur ghosts!
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He did a great job — wonderful images. Your gentle guidance paid off. Glad he had fun with the project; it’s too easy to turn kids off when it comes to poetry.
He knows how much I enjoy poetry and how much I wrote – so I think he was willing to give me the benefit of the doubt and try his hand at doing something dad does. This past week, he’s done the same thing, helping dad split firewood! So I’m very proud of him for being willing to try new things and for sticking with them while learning.
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I’m smiling for you and your son. You both should be so proud.
Thanks, Kathy, I am!
It’s a win for poetry! A win for you ! A win for your son ! A win for his teacher and a vicarious win for me. Lovely. Moonglow, and perseverance. Does he like his poem? Does he want to try another? Can you make one with him while he is making his and share? What a wonderful idea. If his teacher would share her word list or the source I’d love to give it a try.
Thank you, Janet! He is very proud of his poem, yes. I’ll ask his teacher about the program and let you know!
I love that your son forgot that this was work and kept playing and playing–well done! And those two lines–dinosaur ghosts roar in the monster moon glow are unexpected and beautiful.
Thanks, Buffy – I told him I was impressed by those phrases. Since he’s such a non-fiction kind of kid, it really surprised me!