I haven’t participated in Poetry Friday in a long time but I wanted to share a poetry project that David and I have recently finished. As I’ve shared before here and here, I have the kids memorize poetry beginning in first grade.
We started second grade by working on learning The Months by Sara Coleridge. The first few stanzas are below, you can find the complete poem here at poemhunter.com.
January brings the snow,
makes our feet and fingers glow.
February brings the rain,
Thaws the frozen lake again.
March brings breezes loud and shrill,
stirs the dancing daffodil.
John had worked on this same poem a few years ago when he was in second grade. It’s a good poem for this age. It’s fairly easy to memorize, and it provides a natural way to discuss the months of the year and the seasons. However, some of the language is a bit out-dated. October finds the narrator “gathering nuts”; June “fills the children’s hands with posies”. John and I came up with the idea of re-writing the poem to reflect his year. It became a really fun and memorable project that year. So when second grade rolled around for David, I decided to do the same project with him.
It’s a fairly easy poem to rewrite as the structure is simple: couplets for each month with each line of the couplet having seven syllables. For each month, we would first brainstorm all the things we associated with that month. I then had David pick the thing he wanted to write about. We would then brainstorm words that came to mind with the topic. And finally we’d work on coming up with the actual lines.
“October brings games and fun, it’s the best celebration.”
from David’s poem
So the process went something like this:
Ok, for October what could we talk about?
Halloween, leaves falling, going camping, getting cold, my birthday
So which of those do you want to use?
Allright, let’s think of words that go with your birthday.
Cake, ice cream, games, friends, presents, fun…
Great! Now which of those do you want to use for a first line?
”June brings swimming in a race, Swimming at a perfect pace.”
from John’s poem
I don’t have to list how things meet Common Core standards or come up with “learning objectives” met. But if I did, I could come up with long list of skills worked on with this project. Handwriting. Capitalization. Rhyming. Rhythm. Learning the months of the year. Drawing skills. It took a fair amount of time because we only did a bit each week, maybe one or two months a week, which meant we worked on this for about 9 weeks. But in the end the boys had a finished book that they are very proud of.
“December brings gifts to shop, Playing with Grandma and Pop.”
from John’s poem
I say “we” worked on it because although I tried to make it as much their work and ideas as possible, it was really a joint project. In the end, I think this is what made it so memorable and fun for them. We ended up laughing a lot when we thought of silly topics or lines. The boy doing the project got some valuable one-on-one time and the experience of brainstorming and bouncing ideas off another person.
One interesting thing to me was how similar their topics ended up being. There were obvious things like fireworks in July or Christmas in December. But they also both chose to write about bike-riding in April and leaves falling in September. It will be interesting to see what Ruth comes up with in three years when she’s in second grade.
Poetry Friday is hosted this week at Write.Sketch.Repeat. Stop by and take a look.