On Friday, our home school poetry class met for the last time this school year. I asked the boys and girls ages seven through nine what their favorite part of the class was. Their answers included:
- Writing Poetry
Unlike myself, these kids did not seem to struggle with writer’s block! Most weeks, they greeted me with notebook pages flapping and asked with enthusiastic jumping if they could show me their latest poems. They dazzled me with their insights. I wish I could post them, but sharing their work with the world is their privilege.
- Reading Poetry
We enjoyed reading several poems and books this year.
- Sharon Creech’s Love that Dog and Hate that Cat: This series tells the story of Jack, a young boy who learns how to write and appreciate poetry while gaining insight about the animals and people in his life. Young readers and writers will be inspired by the poems of William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, Edgar Allan Poe, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and many others.
- Rip the Page: This book provides a plethora of writing ideas along with definitions, exercises, letters from authors, and blank sheets for writing and ripping.
- We shared books from our bookshelves and from the library.
- We acted out Blake’s The Tyger and Frost’s horse on a not-so-snowy afternoon. A hay ride helped us appreciate The Pasture. We followed the examples of Carroll in making up words, of Shelley in writing fifteen-minute sonnets, of Frost in walking paths well-worn and those less travelled.
- Making Scrapbooks for Our Poems
The kids created scrapbooks of their poetry and artwork. Best of all, these scrapbooks were made from cardboard or folded paper tied with string. They decorated the pages with stickers, candy wrappers, bottle caps, and drawings along with poems they had written or ones from authors they admire. They inspired me, too. Years ago, my mother purchased a blank book for me. Its exquisite parchment paper and filigree cover seemed too precious to fill. But, with the encouragement of unhindered creativity, a new project has begun.
- Breaking the Rules
Although the boys especially liked this “rule” for the class, both boys and girls enjoyed the freedom from standard conventions of grammar, rhymes, and rhythms when it came to their poetry. Yet, through their exploration of their individual voices and their study of poets, they often wrote more to convention than they realized.
I did tell them there is one rule they cannot break–revision. I passed around my small collection of published poems before handing them two bursting mailing envelopes of drafts and a binder filled with notes from my mentor. I cautioned falling in love with their words and encouraged seeking insight from a mentor and trusted readers. Revision is simply playing with words, I explained. Momentary protests arose, but requests to resume class as soon as possible quickly followed.
- All of It!
I could not agree more!