Thursday, March 31, 2016

Welcome to National Poetry Month!

In preparation for this month, our school had a visiting poet working with students in their classrooms. Some kids missed speech sessions because of this and when one student came into my room and I explained why the rest of her group was missing, she wrinkled her nose and said, “I hate poetry!”

Jellyfish, Marine, Purple-StripedJellyfish, Jelly, Fish, Marine

“What?!” My shocked reaction surprised us both. Then I asked, “Have you ever read a poem about a jellyfish?”


Do you know what a jellyfish looks like?”


I quickly pulled up a video of jellies on my iPad and I had her. Hazel was captivated.

By a lucky turn of events, only moments before Hazel came into my room, I’d read the poem, A Jelly-fish by Marianne Moore. I received this gem by email from the Academy of American Poets because I signed up for their “teach this poem,” a free weekly email for K-12 educators. They provide classroom activity ideas and, in this case, a video of Jellyfish.

When I started reading the poem to Hazel I realized right off we needed a vocabulary lesson. What eight-year old is going to understand every word in these first few lines?

            Visible, invisible,
A fluctuating charm,
An amber-colored amethyst
Inhabits it; your arm
Approaches, and
It opens and
It closes;
            You have meant
To catch it,
And it shrivels;
You abandon
Your intent—
            . . .

I was afraid the challenging vocabulary would cause Hazel to lose interest but I was wrong. When we came to the end of the poem she asked if she could write one about otters. I couldn’t refuse such a request. Take a look at what she produced:

River otters
by Hazel

River otters swim fast!!!!
They glide through the water like a fish.
They are so cute.
If I had a river otter I would feed it every day.
I would take it out of the river and put it in my bed.
My bed would smell like fish sticks!!!!

When she finished her poem she wanted copies for her mom, her teacher, and our school nurse. Her feeling of accomplishment was obvious—and the look on her face—well that was pure poetry.

Happy Poetry Month—may it bring wonderful words and images into your world and into the lives of those around you.

(Check out “teach this poem”:

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