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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

I bought a new set of gel pens and shared them with my students.  We had fun writing skinny odes (fold your paper in half and only write to the crease mark), and making zines.  My newest student Rylee, who is a bright first grader, wrote an ode to her dog.  She drew a picture of her dog on her journal page and for her zine decided to cut it out into four parts and glue it on different pages.  I don’t question the creativity of a first grader.

Ode to my Dog


Oh, how I love my dog.

He licks me.
He sits on my lap.

He plays with me.

He is the cutest
dog around.

My dog had to go
somewhere else.

–Rylee, 1st grade

 

Ode to the Glitter Pen

Oh, the glittery life
of an orange gel pen
dipped in sparkly gems.

You write like
glass across the page,

smooth as a soft
silky scarf.

Ink that glows and flows
like orange lip gloss,
tangerine-flavored

lines that bring
sunshine to
this poem.

–Margaret Simon, draft, 2019

 

A page from my zine.

 

 

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NPM19 Day 22 Earth Day

Over the weekend I bought a new magnetic poetry kit, The Edgar Allan Poe version. Lots of words spread out on a cookie sheet. I created an Earth Day haiku.



A discovery walk near our hotel led to a path along Purple Creek, the very creek that ran behind my childhood home. Along the shore were two Canada Geese with 5 little goslings, an Easter morning miracle.

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My fifth grade students were testing, and since my classroom is a computer lab, I was left with no place to teach my third grader.  What does a teacher do when it’s a beautiful spring day and there is no space in the school?  Go outside.  Kaia and I went to the garden.  I had with me paint chips and the book Because of Winn Dixie, so we wrote poems and read aloud.  When we took a break and walked around the garden, we discovered a patch of milkweed and counted four monarch caterpillars.

The next day we were offered the French classroom, but we made some time to go out and check the garden.  Our count went up to eleven.

On Thursday when we went outside, there was a garden group who comes once a month to tend to the garden, teach 4H students and hold garden club after school.  Today there was a naturalist who was speaking on monarch butterflies.  She taught us a few things.  One thing, do not trust your count because there are always more than you can see.

She showed Kaia how to touch a caterpillar.  They do not sting or harm you, but you could harm their delicate feet.  Kaia spotted some crawling all the way over on the concrete slab away from the garden.  She rushed over to tell the naturalist about this.  She explained to us that monarch caterpillars travel away from the host plant when they are ready to pupate.  She gently picked these two up and carried them back to the garden area.

I decided to come back after school and gather a few caterpillars to take home.  Meadow (yes, the naturalist’s name is Meadow) gave me instructions on how to care for them.  It’s a good thing she did.  I thought I had only brought home four caterpillars fat and ready for pupation, but as the days went on, there appeared 3 more in the net habitat.

The four made chrysalises on the plastic top of the container, but I’ve had to feed the three that appeared.  I’ve been gathering (stealing) milkweed from our church school’s garden to keep them fed. I hope I haven’t brought home even more caterpillars unknowing.  So far, so good. I’ll post updates on my Instagram and Facebook pages.

The science of nature fascinates me.  I think I’d like to be a naturalist like Meadow when I grow up.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Irene at Live your Poem.

 

Irene is gathering Poetry Friday posts today.  She is the originator/ organizer of the Progressive Poem.  I’ve participated for four years.  Each year, the poem progresses through different blogs as line by line, we build a poem for children.  This year, Matt Forrest Esenwine started us off with found song lyrics.  The trend continued, and we have this high energy, happy poem about summer.

I am a fan of musicals.  This appreciation runs in my blood.  I passed it on to my middle daughter.  We’ve enjoyed Wicked, Moulin Rouge, and Waitress together and hope to see Dear Evan Hanson this year.  My husband is not such a fan, but earlier this year he appeased me and went to the movie Mary Poppins Returns.  He liked La La Land, so why not?  We were both totally entertained.  I downloaded the soundtrack the next day.

When I’m out walking my dog in the early mornings, some days I just listen to the birds, but a few days ago in anticipation of this required line, I listened to Mary Poppins Returns.  Oh, the joy that music brings to my heart.  A quick search for lyrics online found a just right line for today.

 

Endless summer; I can see for miles…
Fun, fun, fun – and the whole world smiles.
No time for school- just time to play,
we swim the laughin’ sea each and every day.

You had only to rise, lean from your window,
the curtain opens on a portrait of today.
Kodachrome greens, dazzling blue,
it’s the chance of a lifetime,

make it last forever–ready? Set? Let’s Go!
Come, we’ll take a walk, the sun is shining down
Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eyes
Tomorrow’s here. It’s called today. 

 

Found Lines:

L1 The Who, ‘I Can See for Miles’ / The Beach Boys, ‘Endless Summer’
L2 The Beach Boys, ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ / Dean Martin, ‘When You’re Smiling’
L3 The Jamies, ‘Summertime, Summertime’
L4 The Doors ‘Summer’s Almost Gone’/ Led Zeppelin ‘Good Times, Bad Times’
L5 Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine “You had only to rise, lean from your window,”
L6 Joni Mitchell, “Chelsea Morning”
L7 Paul Simon, “Kodachrome,” “Dazzling Blue”
L8 Dan Fogelberg, “Run for the Roses”
L9 Spice Girls, “Wannabe”/ Will Smith, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”
L10 The Beatles, “Good Day Sunshine”
L11 The Carpenters, “Top of the World”
L12 Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Underneath the Lovely London Sky” from Mary Poppins Returns

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I am the featured poet at Today’s Little Ditty today.

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National Poetry Month 2019: I am playing with poetry alongside Mary Lee Hahn, Jone Rush MacCulloch.Christie Wyman, Molly Hogan, and Catherine Flynn.

William Carlos Williams’ poetry has something to teach us about imagery and noticing the ordinary.  His famous poem about the wheelbarrow describes a specific image.  My students immediately imagined the setting as a farm.  Using magnetic poetry words, we found images to create our own “So Much Depends Upon” poems. 

The fifth graders are in state testing this week.  They test on computers.  Since my classroom is in a corner one of the computer labs, I had to find another place to teach.  It was a gorgeous spring day, so we went outside to the garden.  Kaia wrote this magnetic poem:

So much depends upon
a misty garden
spring smell symphony
near the white sea.

We were looking around the garden and found four monarch caterpillars eating the milkweed.  Kaia talked about all she was learning in science about the caterpillars.  Gathering words from the air (not using any toys), I wrote the following poem:


So much depends
upon

the tall
milkweed

dotted
with sunspots

feeding
hungry caterpillars

in
the school garden





You can read more student poems at our Kidblog site. 


(A word about WordPress.  I am having trouble with formatting my posts.  They look correctly aligned to the left margin in the editor mode, but when published, everything changes to centered.  I am getting frustrated with this and don’t know how to fix it.  Does anyone reading this post know what’s going on with the wordpress editor?)



 

 

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This weekend I had the exciting privilege to participate in the third annual Books along the Teche Literary Festival.  Early on Saturday morning, I spoke on a panel with my publisher Josh Caffery from UL Press, Carol Stubbs co-director of our local SCBWI, and fellow authors Denise Gallagher and Jess Butterworth.  My friend, author illustrator Paul Schexnayder, moderated the panel.  We had more than thirty people in the early morning crowd.  We talked about writing and publishing for children.

Following the panel, ten children’s authors and illustrators joined me in Church Alley for story time, book signings, and a bookmaking workshop.  My former student teacher brought her sons and their cousins to make zines with me.  What fun to have these kids successfully write a Things to do poem and illustrate them in little zines.  Look how proud they all were!

 

 

Another highlight of my day was when a former student came by.  I taught her in my early years of teaching, some 30+ years ago.  She’s a mother now, and she brought her 6 year old to meet me and get a book signed to him.  Later, he drew a picture for me from one of the illustrations in Bayou Song.  His mom texted me the picture.  Oh, joy!

With Pam and Port at the Books along the Teche Literary Festival

 

This was a day to remember and treasure.  My favorite part of this whole author business is making connections to kids (and reconnecting with their parents.)

For National Poetry Month, I am writing a poem a day.  Today we are borrowing William Carlos Williams’ line “So much depends upon.”  I played with magnetic poetry to create this one:

So much depends upon

a diamond rose
rising
from still rain

a thousand fiddle
symphony
rising
from birds in the trees–

a lazy spring moment.

–Margaret Simon, (draft) 2019

 

 

 

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