Saturday, April 7, 2012

Kids Flock to "Birds of a Feather"

National Poetry Month is here and poetry is everywhere - on websites, blogs, in our classrooms, and hanging in the halls. The beautiful and playful language found in many children’s poetry books provides a wealth of material for building vocabulary, phonemic awareness, and giving students practice pronouncing their sounds.

Yesterday I brought in a book of poems by Jane Yolen, Birds of a Feather. Jason Stemple’s photographs accompanying the poems are so close-up and crisp they practically fly off the page. My first-grade students snatched this one off the table before our speech session began. Next time I’ll have to bring in several copies – they fought over this book. They loved the perfect pairing of words and photos – the Mohawk on the Kingfisher, the cheery chickadee, and the group of strutting “Oystercatchers on Parade.” After listening to Jane Yolen’s poems they wanted to write their own. I thought they’d try for bird poems but no; they expanded the theme to all animals. One student wrote,

I like yellow monkeys
Running and playing.

Then he said, “That’s kind of a poem,” and I had to agree. One of my kindergarten students dictated a poem about his cat. I’m not sure of the spelling, but here is the closest I could come:

Sammy de clonie de ponie
She scratches me
And jumps
        on the kitchen counter.

I liked his creative rhymes!

Another group of kindergarteners were excited when they discovered the names of their pets rhymed. We worked together to create this poem about their animals:

Luke has a hamster named Taco
        And Zayd has a cat named Paco
        Avery’s bird is Neena
        And Hailey’s rat is Tina.

        We hope these pets will never meet
        For fur might fly and one might eat
        a pretty pet, a favorite friend,
        and give our poem a sad, sad end.

You’ll find better-crafted poetry in Jane Yolen’s book but my students had fun collaborating with me on this one. If you’d like to share your poems or those of your kids or students, I’d love to see them.

Have a wonderful Easter and Passover!

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