Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge


I’ve had a poem accepted for publication in the journal, the Aurorean.  My poem is titled, “Aubade to a Tulip.” The journal is currently taking pre-orders at this link. 

Years ago I submitted to the Aurorean and was published in the Fall/ Winter 2009-2010 issue with the following poem.

December 27th: Putting the Old Dog Down

On this cloudy humid morning I watch
a great blue heron swoop toward the bayou.
He jumps in like a child in summer,
emerges with the catch of the day.
Standing on the bulkhead, he swallows
the fish whole, looks left then right,
rises–his blue wing-tips all the bluer.

Fog lifts over the road to the vet’s office.
Wrapped in a shred of flannel sheet,
I hold her close, look into eyes of trust
while the poison needles in.
I let her go.

The camellia’s first blossoms blanket
the lawn in pink, resurrection fern fans the air.

Margaret Simon (c) 2010

I am grateful to the Aurorean’s editor Cynthia Brackett-Vincent for placing her trust in me as a poet and once again giving wings to one of my poems.

Bayou Teche blue heron, photo by Margaret Simon


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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

Poetry Friday round-up is with Linda at Teacher Dance.

Have you thought about found poetry lately?  This week my friend Linda Mitchell posted a found/ black out poem on Facebook.  A day or two later Janet Wong posted a found poem from an article about the Parkland shooting. These two posts inspired me to try my own.

I’ve been reading aloud Tuck Everlasting to a group of students.  Natalie Babbett’s writing is so descriptive and beautiful, so I copied a page from the book and made a black out poem to use as a model poem for my students.

When I shared this with my students as a writing choice, two of my girls chose favorite pages from favorite books to create their own black out poems.

The day was absolutely gorgeous.  Highs in the 60’s, sun shining, not a cloud in the sky.  Who wants to stay inside?

My science kids are doing projects about plants, so I printed an online article for each of them.  We took the articles and clipboards out to the garden to write.

Circling words to create poems, these students enjoyed “finding” poems in nonfiction text. Poetry can be found anywhere!

Jayden’s poem about camellias:

Prized beauty of
exquisite blooms,
splendid evergreen foliage
attractive shrubs
burst into flowers
rest little prodigious garden.

Where will you find a poem today?

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

On Sunday I posted about using jeweler’s loupes with my students in science and writing poems.  I felt a little guilty writing poems in science class, like that was somehow not allowed.  But my friend and slicer Dani Burtsfield posted a link to a podcast in her comment.  The podcast from Heinemann featured Amy Ludwig VanDerwater talking with authors Valerie Bang-Jensen and Mark Lubkowitz about science and poetry.

Amy asks, “Is a poem a system?”

She continues, “”Do you feel if a poem is a system … is the reader’s intent and background, when a reader comes to a poem, is that energy that flows through that system?”

Later, Amy brings up genre study. “one of the things I see that happens with writing is that … sometimes writing is divided up into these little genres, and we do this for a few weeks, we do this for a few weeks, and we do this for a few weeks. But what gets lost, and what can get lost, is the bigger idea of how to notice these patterns. How to see how interlocking pieces of words work together in a text beyond genre, like transcending, flying over genre.”

Amy’s ideas led me to my lesson today with my science kids.  I wanted to use the patterns of poetry to notice the patterns in science, to fly over genre.

We were using jeweler’s loupes to look at plants, but today we were looking closely at mold.  Last week we set up mold terrariums using ziplock bags and a slice of bread and apple.  Following the weekend, guess what grew?  Yucky mold!

Mold on an apple

“What does the mold remind you of?”

“An old man’s beard.”

“Whipped cream!”

“Let’s write a poem about it.”

Moldy Poem

Mold is growing on our food.
We know it’s made of spores.
Now it looks like
an old man’s beard,
white and green like sour cream.

Mold is creeping like a fox
preying on a squirrel.
Decomposing apples and bread
like bacteria in my mouth.
A marshmallow made of spores.

Writing this poem helped solidify some science concepts through discussion and creativity, observation and discovery. I think we’ll write poems in science more often. Thanks, Amy, Valerie, and Mark for permission.

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge





I teach science to one of my groups of gifted kids.  While I think science is fascinating, I don’t feel like an expert in teaching it, so I’ve taken on a stance of discovery and inquiry.

We made nature journals to begin our study of food webs and plants. The school has an amazing garden that we visited to make observations.

Equipped with jeweler’s loupes from The Private Eye kits we ventured to the garden for “research “. I had my phone with me and enjoyed taking photos by holding the jeweler loupe up to the lens.

Back in the classroom we talked about how we can use analogies to write about something in nature.

What does a snail remind you of? We made a list:

  • a snake
  • green heart from Moana
  • fake snail on SpingeBob
  • curled up caterpillar
  • spiraled spider egg
  • Yin Yang symbol
  • a design with swirls
  • God’s eye
  • a seashell

We wrote a poem from their list:

I found a snail in the garden
like a snake curled up small
or a caterpillar in a cocoon.
It looked like a spiral spider egg
or a design on wallpaper–
God’s eye?
An E all swirled around.




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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

Poetry Friday round-up is with Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty

If you take the book jacket off of The Word Collector, you see a golden collection of words.



Wonders of words
Fill constellations.
There is an angel
On my shoulder
As I write … praline, crimson…
Sounds of words roll
Over my tongue,
Taste sweet…Argentina…
Musical… infinity of words
To release into the air.

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018

The librarian knows of my attachment to all things Peter Reynolds.  I introduced her to Dot Day and helped her plan activities in the fall.  Last week, she had a Scholastic Book Fair.  I shopped on Friday and put some wishes into a bin.  I never had a chance to go back and purchase any.  When this sweet librarian saw me she said, “I saw Word Collector in your book fair bin.”

I said, “I know!  I’m so sorry I never had time to come back and buy anything.”

“No worries. I had extra funds from the sales, so I bought a copy for the library.  I put it aside for you.”  And she handed me Peter Reynolds gold!

I shared the book with my students and as I did, I said, “Be a word collector.  As I read, make your own collection of words.”

My students wrote and wrote.  Their lists covered one, then two pages in their notebooks.  Given 10 minutes on the timer, they turned their lists into poems.  Amazing poems.

Madison decided to make word combinations, so she randomly matched together two word pairs.  When she finished, she realized that all her combinations could describe stars.  She titled this masterpiece Stars.


Azure Wonders
Emerald Willows
Drifting Whispers
Geometric Symphony
Aromatic Kaleidoscope
Marvelously Effervescent
Harmony Lore
Breezing Beyond
 Onyx Liberty
Tranquil Silence
Cascading Glints
Brilliant Waterfalls
Onomatopoeia Collections
Hopeful Grace
 Mused Clovers
Constellate Alligator
Utopia Yonder

 Stars Of The Sky

–Madison, 4th grade

I wrote about Dawson last week, about how he was not using line breaks yet in his poems.  I showed him how he could, and now he’s writing meaningful poetry.  I love what he wrote about his decisions for the line breaks. “I decided to do it like this with line breaks and words because it sounds like a song that you could play. If you read it again, watch go ahead, read this again while playing joyful music in the background.”

With Willows
soft as a whisper,
with royal flocks
prancing around in your dream,
let it be known
there is wonder in your heart.

–Dawson, 4th grade

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge


Continuing the celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, I pulled an idea out of my hat!  Let’s write about Dr. Seuss quotes.  A search for quotes was easy.  They are everywhere. Not just here. Not just there. But everywhere!

Choosing a quote that spoke to you was easy. Or it was hard. Some students decided to take on rhyming.  But with that decision, you have to consider rhythm too, so I found myself next to Trace beating out Ta-da-ta-da-dum on the table.

Some students went for prose.  Some for poems.  Some wrote their own quotes.

Once again, my students blew me away with their creativity, their depth of thought, and their imagination.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

Life is a cake,
You can make a pretty, delicious cake,
Or a boring, plain cake.

Fantasy is the icing on the cake,
Nonsense is the silly sprinkles.

Knowledge is the candle on the cake,
And smiles, smiles are the light, the flame.

It’s a wonderful, tasty cake!

–Lynzee, 3rd grade

(Click on her name to leave comments.)

“All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone is something you’ll be quite a lot!”
― Dr. SeussOh, the Places You’ll Go! and The Lorax

not fun at all.
You look at the monstrous jungle,
while your comfort is lost in the sea.
The light in you is unfound.
Creeping around waiting for you to bite,
Like brim in a pond.
Then you actually get it on your hook,
you fight your emotions,
like the fish’s strength.
Then you reel it in,
and are filled with light.

–Austin, 6th grade  (Click his name to leave comments on his post.)

What is your favorite Dr. Seuss quote?  I love so many of them, but this is the one that spoke to me about this weird and crazy Slice of Life Challenge.  We fall in mutual weirdness and call it Slice of Life!

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Click here to read my students’ posts on Kidblog.

Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

As often as I can, I write alongside my students.  On Monday, I shared a poem by Rebecca Kai Dotlich “What I’m Made of” that was published in the Dec./Jan. issue of Scope magazine.

Following a discussion of the choices that Rebecca made in her poem, we brainstormed ideas for our own.  I wrote one as well.  Today, I am sharing my poem.  If you click the slicer badge on the left, you can find my students’ poems.

What I’m Made of

after Rebecca Kai Dotlich


Of trampolines and picnics,
Of hurricanes and Gulf Coast sand,
and dreaming of mountains.
Of birdhouses and biscuits on Sunday morning.
Of pecan picking, clover crowns, and wishes on a dandelion.
Of a locked diary and flooded memories,
Of Beechcrest Drive and Purple Creek,
Of piano lessons and nature hikes,
photo lenses to hide behind.
Of school dances, prom gown of pink organza,
I’m made of Donny & Marie, Ding Dongs by the fireplace,
Of macrame and cross stitch, The Natchez Trace and Brady Bunch.
I am Southern and soft, singing a song,
I am wind, water, and wonder.

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018

I shared the following quote from a fourth grader on Twitter:


Lynzee's Slice image

My student, Lynzee drew this on the board on March 1st. 

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