SOL18: An Ode to the Slices I Didn’t Write

For the first time in five years, I am NOT celebrating a month of slicing. Despite a record number of snow days, despite staying healthy, posting a slice every day eluded me. That’s not to say I haven’t been writing. I have. I just couldn’t get into a groove with slicing.

Photo by Aaron Burden via Unsplash

Even though I didn’t participate in the challenge on a regular basis, I did want to post something today. But as I drafted a few ideas last night, nothing clicked. Then, this morning, I read my friend Linda Mitchell’s Poetry Friday post. Linda had used Gary Soto’s “Ode to Pablo’s Tennis Shoes” as a mentor for a poem she read at a friend’s Bar Mitzvah. This was exactly the form I needed for my end-of-March slice.

Ode to Lost Slices

They wait in my notebook
half-baked, embryonic
ink-smudged
at the edges
where I feverishly
scribbled ideas
before they evaporated,
my attention grabbed
by a bird at the window.
Some thoughts made it
to page, to screen
to you (who are you?)
Others are gone,
out of reach.

Now it’s the end of March.
I sit at my desk, listening
to the birds chittering
it the treetops, grateful
for warm sunshine.
My ideas, friends
who flutter through my brain
are whirling.
I should not have slept,
But I did.
(Wisps of dreams
still cling to my hair.)

I want to tame
my thoughts,
still wild
and winged,
capture them
on this page
where they’ll make
some sense to me,
to you, a friend,
to whomever stumbles
across them in
this vast universe.
I love writing,
polishing ideas until
they shine, then
sending them out
to fly on their own.
But I’m distracted.
I skink into my chair.
My eyes sting
from the harsh words

that inundate our world.
I need eight hours (days?)
of peace and quiet
to let ideas settle,
grow their flight feathers,
and soar.

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

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SOL 18 & Poetry Friday: Paint Chip Poetry

                        

During a trip to the hardware store earlier this week, I found myself standing in front of a rainbow of paint chips. They reminded me of my friend Margaret Simon’s recent post about the poems she and her class wrote using paint chips. The shades of blues were irresistible to me. Without reading the names, I selected a handful of cards.

Later, I sorted the chips into categories. Soon I had a list of weather words, ocean words, and a few miscellaneous words. Margaret wrote unrelated words on the back of the paint chips she prepared for her students. I added words that the color names brought to mind and came up with this draft. The color names are italicized.

celestial light dapples
iridescent opal waters
rippled by sea winds
blowing in from
distant shores

Photo by Sime Basioli via Unsplash

This was so much fun I may go back to the hardware store today for more paint chips! I can’t wait to introduce paint chip poetry to students.

Please be sure to visit Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe for the Poetry Friday Roundup. Also, thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

SOL18: Found Poetry

Last week, my lovely and talented friend, Robyn Hood Black, invited her Poetry Friday friends to find a poem in a passage she shared from Cassell’s Family Magazine. The passage reminded me of a collection of cut outs I have that my grandmother and her sister used as paper dolls that date to 1916 or so. A little digging revealed that most of these came from The Delineator, “an American women’s magazine of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, founded by the Butterick Publishing Company.” (from Wikipedia) I searched my grandmother’s collection for styles that matched the description in the passage Robyn shared, but it’s from the 1890s, so fashions had changed. But I was able to find a few stylish dresses that have some similar features.

Because I live in spring-deprived New England, I found all the weather words to create my poem.  Thank you, Robyn, for this fun exercise!

WHAT TO WEAR IN APRIL

The long cloak savors of SPRING; it opens at the neck and TRIMS with close feather bands, instead of fur. It is composed of ribbed silk AND EMBROIDERED velvet, the velvet is cut as a Bolero jacket, elongated into panel sides over which fall the long pointed sleeves, embroidered on THE OUTSIDE of the arm, and edged like the jacket with ball fringe in character with the hat. It is a mantle that completely covers the dress. The muff matches the hat, and I notice

women are wearing them WELL ON TO SUMMER, partially because they are so infinitesimal. The floral muffs are often carried by bridesmaids; they are made of satin and COVERED WITH FLOWERS so that little but of the foundation is seen. They let the odour of the flower be easily enjoyed by the holder, and are more to be DESIRED than BOUQUETS because they have a raison d’être.  (From Cassell’s Family Magazine)

WHAT TO WEAR IN APRIL

SPRING
TRIMS
AND EMBROIDERED
THE OUTSIDE
WELL ON TO SUMMER
COVERED WITH FLOWERS
DESIRED
BOUQUETS

Inspired to try found poetry with your students? Don’t miss Linda Mitchell‘s terrific work with her eighth grade library students!

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

Poetry Friday & SOL18: Book Spine Poetry

                     

National Poetry Month is just around the corner and, like many of you, I’m thinking about ways to share the joy of poetry with my students. One of my favorite poetry warm-ups is creating book spine poetry. Here are a few short verses using books old and new.

Hey world, here I am!
Save me a seat.

                                                        

This is the chick.
Handle with care.

The girl who drew butterflies
Finding wonders
under the egg.

                                                          

On a magical, do-nothing day,
another way to climb a tree!
What are you waiting for?

                                                                                                                      

Birdsongs,
voices in the air.
Feathers
soar
north on the wing.

Congratulations to Keri Snowden! Keri is the winner of a signed copy of Meet My Family: Animal Babies and Their Families by Laura Purdie Salas.

Speaking of Laura, please be sure to visit her at Writing the World for Kids for the Poetry Friday Roundup. Also, thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

SOL18: Planting in the Snow

The scene outside is all too familiar: fine, steady snow being buffeted about a persistent northeast wind. Inside, the scene is a little different: an flower pot filled with potting soil awaits a rooted begonia leaf. To heck with snow. It’s spring, and I’m planting!

This cutting is descended from a plant that originally belonged to my great-great grandmother and was kept alive for the better part of the twentieth century by my great-aunt. After she passed away, my mother inherited the plant. Now, my sister and I are keepers of this hardy, giant-leafed plant. Starting a new plant is as simple as cutting off a leaf and plopping it into a jar of water. It doesn’t take long for roots to erupt from the bottom of the stem. Once they’ve appeared, the leaf can be planted. Today’s plant is for my son and his fiancé’s new apartment.

The parent plant has taken over this part of my bedroom!

I’m not ordinarily a rebellious person. But planting this next generation begonia today was my act of defiance against all this snow. Happy spring, everyone!

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

SOL 18: The MEET MY FAMILY Blog Tour is Here!

 

“Every family’s different–each family is just right!”
Laura Purdie Salas

Welcome to the latest stop on the Blog Tour for Laura Purdie Salas’s beautiful new book, Meet My Family: Animal Babies and Their Families (Millbrook Press, 2018). When I first read Laura’s heartfelt words and saw Stephanie Fizer Coleman‘s lively illustrations, I knew this book was a perfect mentor text for student writing.

© Laura Purdie Salas and Stephanie Fizer Coleman, 2018

Laura was inspired to write Meet My Family by feelings she had about her own family growing up. In her interview with Kirby Larson (the link is listed below), Laura says that “my family felt very different from other families.” She hopes “this book might erase some of the shame so many kids feel about their families.”

One of my colleagues is the most amazing Kindergarten teacher on the planet, and she welcomed me into her classroom to share Laura’s book with her students and work on this writing project with them. After reading Meet My Family to the children, we talked about all the different kinds of animal families in the book. Then we talked about all the ways our own families are different. After brainstorming together, the kids wrote a sentence about their own family.

The next day, we reread the book, this time looking closely at the subtext on each page. Again, using Laura’s text as a mentor, the students added details to their writing about their family. Some chose to write about activities they do together, others wrote about favorite foods. Everyone gained an appreciation for all the different kinds of families we have!

Illustrations are a very big deal for Kindergarteners, and they couldn’t wait to start drawing their families. We even used the cover layout as a model for the cover of the book we created.

Here is their work:

I live with my mom and dad in my house. We love to babysit my baby cousin.
by R.

I am the only child. And sometimes I go out to walk with my family.
by R.

I have three sisters. I watch TV with my sisters.
by S.

I moved across the country. Sometimes we go on hikes!
by J.

I live with my family. We go to Five Guys for burgers.
by L.

I am the smallest in my family! My family likes to bike together! I like my family!
by K.

I am the youngest in my family. I went with my family in the forest. We had fun.
by A.

I live with my brothers and my baby sister. My family likes to go to the beach.
by I.

I live with my mimi and poppy. We like to go out to dinner.
by Z.

I have one sister. After school we go to gymnastics. It is tiring and it is fun.
by B.

I live with my mom and my brothers. We play Manhunt outside. I am fast.
by L.

My brother is eight and I am five. My baby sister is two. I live with my Nana and my PopPop, my puppy and cats.
by E.

I live with my mommy and dad and my baby sister, too. After school I help mom and dad make chicken for dinner.
by L.

These Kindergarten students are very proud to share their work today, and are already busy planning their next writing project. Thank you, Laura, for writing this informative, inspiring book!

Thanks to Laura’s generosity, one lucky reader will win a copy of Meet My Family! Just leave a comment before midnight, Thursday, March 22nd, to be entered in the drawing.

To find out more about Laura and this wonderful book, be sure to visit the other stops on the Meet My Family Blog Tour:

The tour has two more upcoming stops! Don’t miss them!

A Classroom Guide is available to download here.

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

SOL 18 & Poetry Friday: A Golden Shovel

                                  

I have lived in New England my entire life. Certain snowstorms are vivid in my memory. In the late 60s, a drift the size of a dump truck blocked our street for what seemed like days and we had to get fresh milk straight from the farm across the street. When we returned to school after the blizzard of ’78, the snow was drifted to the roof of our sprawling, one-story school in some spots. I even remember one winter when we didn’t have a single snow day until March. Then we had one every week.

But I can’t remember any winter that compares to the weather we’ve had in the past two weeks. Three nor’easters since the beginning of March have dumped almost two feet of snow at my house, and we’re on the lower end of the snow totals! Even though it’s still winter, the days are getting longer and snow melts quickly at this time of year. There was even a tiny hint spring in the air last week.

So when I reread the poems Nikki Grimes and Michelle Heidenrich Barnes shared for this month’s ditty challenge, this line, from Nikki’s poem, “Truth, by Tyrone Bittings,” shone out like a beacon:

a reason for a song

It made me think of a photo of crocuses blooming in the snow I’d seen recently and inspired this Golden Shovel:

© Catherine Flynn, 2018

Hope your crocuses are blooming, or will be soon!

By Meneerke bloem (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Please be sure to visit Linda Baie at TeacherDance for the Poetry Friday Roundup. And thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.