Come in, Stay A While, Pull Up a Chair, and Meet My Wonderful Guests

Of course you all know how much I love company and parties. Well I have to tell you having guest bloggers are WAY better than company at home.
They come. They stay for wonderful conversation. They have very important things to say. They make your space look really great. You don’t have to worry about snacks (unless it’s dip for my buddy). AND you don’t have to stock up on toilet paper!
I’m having lots of company again this weekend for Hadley’s 18th shin-dig, but tonight I have a very special visitor from Forever in First. Tammy (yes, you read that right, great name huh?) is guest blogging.

Read on about her amazing thoughts on poetry, and then visit her blog for many other great posts and ideas.
AND if you didn’t catch Ashley  From Live2Learn on Monday you have to pop back there. She has a super fun post and game that she shares with MY bloggy friends! How sweet is that? You need to go on over and introduce yourself at Live to Learn, so you can be her bloggy friend too.  She has tons of fun ideas and activities!

Did I say how much I love company? Well I DO! And now you can see why. Come on over too! The more the merrier!  
Now onto Tammy's Wonderful guest post... 
Hello!  My name is Tammy but not the Tammy you have come to know and love.  I'm from Forever in First, and I'm just tickled that I've been invited to guest blog here for Tammy.  Wasn't that sweet of her?  By the end of this post, I hope you think so too!

Teaching the art of writing poetry was elusive to me for the longest time.  I so wanted to try it.  I just didn't have a vision of where to start and was too scared to even give it a shot.  Several years ago Lucy Calkins and Regie Routman came to my rescue, and I quickly discovered there's magic to be had when first graders write poetry.  Oh how my first graders and I had been missing out.  If you've been missing out too, I hope this post gives you a glimpse of where to start, so you and your writers can find the magic of poetry as well.

(Again, thanks to Lucy and Regie for the foundation of what you're about to read.  I'm leaving out lots of details, but you'll see the basics of the first three days of my poetry unit.  Warning: This post seems long but it's mostly pictures, and the best part is at the end.  Stick with me!)

Day 1
I start the lesson with poetry (no brainer) and talk about how poets see things in a fresh new way.  The following two poems are great examples of that.  (Click on the picture if you'd like a copy.)
The kids then get a chance to look at ordinary objects in a fresh new way.  I place several objects at each table.  Here are just a few of the things I use.  

Each child gets a blank sheet of paper.  They travel around to objects that interest them, sketch a picture, and write how they see them in fresh new ways.  Below are two examples.

Since this is day one and I'm throwing them into the life of a poet after only a ten-minute mini-lesson, there are for sure some misconceptions.  The key is to search for kids who get it, and point them out often.  "Hey guys, check this out.  When Katie looks at this shell, she doesn't see a shell.  She sees an ice cream cone.  Isn't that cool how she sees things in a fresh new way?  You can do that too!"  Repeat this about five times, and the lightbulb starts to flicker.

Day 2
I like to basically repeat the first day with the same objects and their same observation sheets.  These are the poems that I share.  (Your own copy is a click away.)
I continue to stop often and celebrate how poets are seeing ordinary things in a fresh new way.  By the end of today's lesson, most of them are really catching on.

Day 3
Today we learn that poems have ingredients.  Poems are written by seeing things in a fresh new way, and poems have their own special music.  The words poets choose and they way they put them on the paper with line breaks and white space is very important.  I use the following poem by Valerie Worth to help make this point.  We read it several times and listen for the music.
We read it like the picture below and listen for the music, discovering there is none.  I put the words back the way Valerie Worth used them and read it again to hear the music one more time.

Shared writing is one of the most important steps in the magic of teaching kids to write poetry or any genre for that matter, so we write a poem together.  I choose an ordinary object - a tissue, for example.  We focus on seeing it with poet's eyes and use line breaks and white space to hear the music.  Here's what we came up with.  (Notice the type of paper.  The lines or short for a reason.  It forces them to use line breaks.)

The objects come out for the last time, kids use our special poetry paper, and they choose objects to write poems about.  Again, I stop often to highlight the kinds of things I'm seeing that I want all the poets to do.  For their very first day of writing poetry, they manage rather well.  Here are four examples. 

(Written about a screw - Rocket Ship: 3 2 1 blast off I am going to the moon)
(Written about a lid - Wheel: Wheel stomping on the road rolling back and forth changed for snow changed over again never stopping always turning)
(Written about a screw - The Screw: the screw like a rollercoaster that twists and turns again and again)
(Written about an object shaped like a plastic thimble - The Quiet Castle: A sandcastle sits quietly in the beach waiting to be played with)

I can only imagine the poems they'll be writing by the end of the unit.  I'm amazed year after year at what young poets are capable of.  Give it a whirl if you haven't already.  Your poets will be sure to amaze you as well.

Thanks again to Tammy for having me and to all of you for joining me here.  I hope you've enjoyed hearing from Forever in First!



  1. Thank you so much Tammy you and this post are just what I have been needing. I have been thinking about poetry all week. We have touched on it, but this is perfect! Thank you for sharing and guesting!

  2. Thank you for the kind words about my blog and the freebie I shared here! You are too sweet.


  3. Thanks Tammy for inviting me over and letting me share some poetry with you and all your other guests. I'm totally honored to be here! Thanks. (By the way, I see that you're following my best friend's blog - Finding Joy in the Journey. When she talks about Tammy, that's me!)
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

    1. Cool! Miss Delighted sent me. She (and you) is very inspiring. Like many, weight has always been an issue in my life. As you can probably tell by all the cooking I do!
      Thanks Tammy!

  4. Tammy, I liked the way you used sticky notes to rearrange the words, to show the music! I give middle school students an envelope full of words from a short poem, asking them to see how they would put the poem together. It's so similar to your activity, just a little harder I guess, but so effective to show what poets do with the word placement. Thanks for all the ideas. I will pass them on to the primary teachers!

  5. Your ideas are wondeful!! I can't wait to use them in my classroom!

    First Grade Magic

  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Just what I needed for after my Spring Break. Thanks!

    First in Maine

  7. Your teaching of poetry and poetry writing is fabulous!! Those last 2 poems were especially wonderful! You have given me ideas, motivation, and confidence to try these type of poems!
    Conversations in Literacy

  8. Thank everyone for reading. I'm glad this post was helpful. Hopefully it will inspire some fabulous poetry.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

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