Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hints for Poetry Writing with Kids

These ideas will help children get started writing poetry
 of their own.
* By reading poetry on a regular basis you are exposing children to the language of poetry--a crucial first step in preparing them to write poems of their own.
* Children will  be most successful at writing poetry if they concentrate on getting their thoughts and feelings on paper without having to worry agbout rhyme. So be sure to include lots of unrhymed poetry when you choosing selections to share with your students.
* Modeling is the key to getting children to write. Just becuase children have heard, read, sung, and illustrated poems doesn't mean they are ready to start writing poety.
Ease them into the writing process by first modeling how to write a poem. For beginning or reluctant writers, it is helpful to use a frame (see example of a frame below).
* Write collaborative poems with students. Jot down students' ideas and contributions on the board  or a chart, and decide together which words, phrases, and sentences to use in the final poem.
* Have children work in small groups repeat the process above and write a poem without your help.
* These experiences will give students the skills and confidence they need to write poems of their own.

Poetry Frames
Simile Poem                     Example

As ____ as a ______.      As dark as a closet.
As ____ as a ______.      As big as a mountain.
As ____ as a ______.      As gloomy as a cold basement
Is a ______________.     Is a rain cloud ready to burst.

People Poem                     Example

________ (who?)              My Grandpa Joe
______ and ______          Funny and loving.
__________(action)          Helps me plant a garden.
As ____ as _____              As smart as a genius.
If only _________             If only he could live closer!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Take a Poetry Break!

Here's an exciting activity that can be shared by your grade level or even the entire school. Choose one day of the week or month as "Poetry Break Day." Have students help decorate a special sign on a piece of cardboard or posterboard. Individual students, partners, or small groups from each participating class take turns preparing and performing a favorite or timely poem. Simple props or costumes may be used. Then, during the day, the presenter(s) visit each classroom, announce "Poetry Break!" and read, recite, or perform a special poem. Make sure the participants don't mind the interruption and agree in advance on a time for the poetry break. The interruption should last two or three mihnutes at most. Make sure the presenters stop by the office, library, computer lab, and cafeteria too! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Create a "poetree" by cutting a tree trunk shape and branches from brown paper and attaching them to a bulletin board. Or anchor a fallen tree branch in a container filled with stones or plaster for a unique 3-D display. Students can help decorate the tree with thematic or seasonal poems they've found or written. Poems can changed on a weekly or monthly basis. Decorations, such as leaves, , blossoms, snowflakes, hearts, and furit, can be attached to the tree to enhance the display throughout the year. This is also a good way to highlight the poems of a favorite author.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Write a Five Senses Poem

_____________ (title)

I see ______________.

I  smell _______________.

I hear _____________.

I feel ______________.

I taste _____________.

I know _______________.


I see green buds on the trees.
I smell purple lilacs on a bush.
I hear "chirp chirp."
I feel a warm breeze on my face.
I taste raindrops on my tongue.
I know winter is over and spring is here!

Set Up a Poetry Corner in Your Classroom

* Designate a corner of the classroom as a hands-on poetry corner. Place a poetry box on a table or desk so students can have easy access to it.

* Display a variety of poetry anthologies or collections.

* Develop sensory awareness by creating a seasonal display using plants, fresh flowers, dried flowers, interesting nature items such as rocks, leaves, shells, etx.

* Choose a poem as the special focus for the day or week.  Display the poem in the poetry corner. Leave blank space next to the focus poem so that children can attach poems they have found with a similar theme, original "response" poems or their own artistic interpretations of the poem.  

* Provide lots of paper in various sizes, shapes, and colors for children to use when writing their own poems.

* Keep a large jar, empty aquarium, or basket at the poetry corner. Ask a different child each day to bring something to put into the conatainer. (Examples: a toy airplane, seashell, clay dinosaur, bird's nest, or other realia.) When the teacher takes a turn, he/she could surprise the class with a turtle, fish, hermit crab, or the like. Challenge students to find, recite and display poems that describe the object in the basket. Whenever children have free time, they may want to sit at the poetry corner, reflect on something in the display (or classroom environment), and write a poetic description of what they see.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April is National Poetry Month!

Hello fellow poetry lovers. Let's celebrate this special month. Remember . . .
"All good writing is poetry driven." --Deidre Spicer

Every day for the remainder of the month, I will post something poetic in nature to inspire you and share with your students.

Here are two poems featuring reading and writing . . .

    Reading Is Fun
I can read about pirates.
I can read about dogs.
I can read about insects.
I can read about  frogs.
I can read LOTS of books, not just one.
I love to read. Reading is FUN!

           I Love to Write!
I write a list when I want to bake.
I write a postcard when I'm at the lake.
I write in my journal every day.
I write when I have something important to say.

I write a card just to say hello.
I write a report about what I know.
I write a note when I'll be late.
I write when I want to communicate!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

15 Simple Ways to Increase Comprehensible Input

(Stephen Krashen, 1981)
I found this in my files, and I thought about how relevent it is, not just for ESL students, but in ALL classroom settings. BTW, if you want to learn more about this topic, TeacherVision website has some great info. Here's the link:
1. Read often, start with picture books.
2. Slow down (speak more slowly, not more loudly).
3. Use shorter sentences.
4. Demonstrate.
5. Place or hang visual cues in the classroom.
6. Use hands-on activities.
7. Make frequent checks for comprehension.
8. Use realia, photos, or actual objects.
9. Display language and content objectives.
10.Avoid idioms and slang.
11. Use appropriate gestures.
12. Scaffold with guided questions and practice.
13. Cooperative learning
14. Activate and build on  prior knowledge.
15 Remember, a smile goes a long way! :-)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Focus on Phonemic Awareness

Activities for parents and teachers of pre-schoolers:
Along with reading aloud to your pre-schoolers every day, there are a few fun and easy activities that you can do to greatly enhance the your child's reading success in kindergarten and 1st grade. These activities are meant to teach a skill called phonemic awareness.
Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate the individual sounds that make up spoken words. These are auditory activities and can be performed anywhere: in line at the supermarket, in the car, or when taking walks together.
Rhyme Time! I once worked with a 1st greade teacher who used to say, "If they can rhyme, they can read." Dr. Seuss books are great rhyming read-alouds.
* Make up short little rhymes and invite your child to guess the rhyming word. "There once was a little mouse that lived in a little ______."
* Chant and sing nursery rhymes.
* Say three words, such as cat, mat, mug. Ask your child to pick the word that doesn't rhyme.
* Say 3 words, such as bug, cat, baby, and have your child pick the word that starts with a different sound.  
Focus on Sounds. Invite your child to guess the word when you divide it up into the sounds, such as /mmmmmmaaaaaannnnn/ man. Or ask your child what sound, not letter, they hear at the beginning of man, moon, monkey and so on.
Songs and Word Play! Recite fun tongue twisters with your child. Remember Peter, who picked a peck of pickled peppers? Swap beginning letters on common prhases such as "Bappy Hirthday!" or "Have a dice nay!  Here is a great song that builds phonemic awareness. Sing it to the last part of the song, "I've Been Workin' on the Railraod."  Download this song now!

Click image to download
song for phonemic awareness.
For more songs and activities, google "Phonemic Awareness Activities."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

First Grade Writing Samples

For how to get started with daily journals in the K-1 classroom, check out my posting and free download from Jan. 11, 2012. Now enjoy this amazing writing...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Great K-1 Graphic Organizer to Plan Writing

This is a super activity for the beginning of the school year as well as for Open House in the Spring. Each child can create an "All About Me" poster using the graphic organizer like the one below. Invite each child to present his/her poster to foster oral language development. Then, each student can refer to the poster when writing a descriptive paragraph. 

Click image to download
this reproducible.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Writing Journals

Monday is a great day for journal writing because kids usually are bursting to tell about the fun experiences they had over the weekend. In addition to daily journals, try creating a special one just for Mondays. Download the reproducible below to get you started. For more info on journal writing, check out my previous postings on January 11 and 13. :-)

Click image to download
this reproducible.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Highly Effective Teachers

"Highly effective teachers, as Stanford education professor Linda Darling-Hammond points out, need a vision, a theoretical foundation, deep content knowledge, a variety of teaching strategies and effective classroom management. And that's even before addressing the interpersonal skills that so define the memorable teachers that touched our lives and made us the people we are  today."  Desiree Zamorano

Friday, January 13, 2012

What Teachers Say about Daily Journal Writing

A teacher friend sent me a great article from
It starts:
One of the best things about daily journal writing is that it can take so many forms. Teachers can use journal writing to meet specific goals, or the purpose can be wide open. . . . Some teachers use journals as the one "uncorrected" form of writing that students produce.
To read more and learn about WRITING MOTIVATORS THAT WORK FROM TEACHERS WHO USE THEM, click on the link below or just google "Journal Writing Every Day."
Also, check out my previous posting for even more journal writing ideas!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Journal Writing for Emergent Readers

I'm a huge fan of daily journal writing starting the first day of school in Kindergarten! Below is a sample of a kindergartner's writing in a classroom where journal writing is valued and is an important part of the day. The first sample shows Tyler's writing  on the very first day of school. The next sample shows a page from his journal just 4 months later.   
For some great tips on getting started in your primary classroom, download the following 2 page reproducible and share it with your team. Have fun with your new little writers! You will be amazed at their progress.  

Click image to download
this reproducible.