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Poetry Friday is with Jone Macculloch.
Gingerbread House by Avalyn, 2nd grade

Little Gingerbread House

The whole room smells
of graham crackers and icing,
sweet-scented as Christmas should be,
marked by twinkle lights and fingers
dipped in icing or glitter glue.

Santa’s in the hallway
listening to every child’s wish.
Teachers are tired, overwhelmed
by lists and sugary treats. Too much
time spent on planning, cooking, decorating.

But there’s the child with bright eyes
who opens her arms and says “I love you”.

You must open 
your little gingerbread house
to all of it. 

Margaret Simon, draft

I started my day listening to Ada Limón and The Slowdown. She talked about her grandmother’s kitchen and read the poem little tree by ee cummings. I played this episode for my students, and we wrote together. My poem above is true. I took the plunge and did gingerbread houses made out of graham crackers for the first (and most likely last) time. The success on Avalyn’s face and her insistence on telling me she loved me comforted my weary soul. She wrote a sweet story about her little gingerbread house on Fanschool here. (Spoiler alert: it includes a true story about a lizard rescue.)

Chloe wrote a poem side-by-side to ee cummings.

(after ee cummings little tree)

bright star
bright little North Star
you are so bright
you are more like a light

who found you behind Mars
and were you sad to lose hide and seek?
see         I will comfort you
because you light up my Christmas tree.

i will hug your prickly sides
and swing you gently
as your mother would
so don’t run away

and my father and i will lift you up
and look at your shining stem
we’ll skip and sing
“Behold that Star”

Chloe Willis, 6th grade

This is the time of year for the Winter Poetry Swap. I exchanged with Karen Eastlund. She sent me the following poem (how cool that it’s in the shape of a Christmas tree) along with some delicious goodies and a hand sewn mini bin. Thanks, Karen.

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When taking photographs, you don’t always get the one you planned. We recently took my grandchildren to a local art museum. There were dancers in the gallery advertising an upcoming performance of The Nutcracker. I wanted my grandson Leo to take a picture with them. Well, he’s 3 and he was afraid of the dancers, so he kept his distance. I took this photo anyway. Now I look at it as a potential poem prompt.

The Nutcracker is as traditional in the United States as Christmas caroling. We all know the story. We can conjure the iconic music in our heads. It’s been years since I attended a performance of the ballet, but I have fond memories of going as a child. Play a bit of the music while musing on this photo, and place a small poem in the comments.

Gallery Dancers, by Margaret Simon

Snowflakes
flutter in–
a gallery dance

Margaret Simon, draft hay(na)ku

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

He sat on the bench near the door eyeing the white hard hats on the other side of the bench. The next thing I knew, he announced, proudly wearing the hat with the strap over his forehead that he was a “fighter fighter”.

“Who are you?”

“A fighter fighter!”

“A firefighter?”

“I a fighter, fighter.”

“I a fighter fighter” Leo (3)

This weekend I accompanied my daughter and her husband as we drove with Leo (3) to the Louisiana Children’s Museum in New Orleans for his special birthday weekend. We met up with my younger two daughters, son-in-law, and cousin Thomas (2). The Children’s Museum is full of pretend play areas, water, music, grocery shopping, etc. I climbed into a huge bubble-making contraption with both boys. Leo was interested in the pulleys that hoist the bubble up while Thomas whispered, “Bubble.” Then we all squealed when it popped.

“Cold” Thomas (2)

Pretend play with toddler boys is fun. I could watch and listen all day. As they bounce from one thing to another, a cup becomes a gas can, a handle becomes a sword, and a puzzle becomes building blocks. At the end of the day, Mamère becomes a storyteller and lullaby singer, and that’s the best job in the whole world.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Cathy at Merely Day by Day

Today is another gratitude post. I am so grateful to be a part of a wider world of poetry for children. Pomelo Books with NCTE Excellence in Poetry Winner Janet Wong along with her always enthusiastic poetry partner Sylvia Vardell were awarded Every Child a Reader Children’s Book Award for Hop to It. My poem Zen Tree is one of the 100 poems in this book. The award was for the best book of facts. For every poem, there is a side bar with factual information. I love that the facts next to Zen Tree include how trees communicate with each other through their root system. Congratulations to Janet and Sylvia and all of us jumping for Joy!

We are continuing daily gratitude poems in my classrooms. This week at both schools, there is a “Santa Store” set up in the library. Students can buy gifts for their families. There is such joy around buying gifts for others. My students and I expressed that joy in our poems this week.

As we quickly approach Christmas, I hope you are finding much to be grateful for. I am also grateful for you, my underground root system. Your support helps me to keep standing (and writing).

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On my daily walk, I pass a Japanese Magnolia tree. I’ve photographed this tree often, and written poems about it here and here. On a foggy grey morning, the dew drops glistened as I passed. I was compelled once again to photograph this tree.

Secrets of the night
revealed
on dew drops
come morning

Margaret Simon, draft

Leave your #smallpoems #poemsofpresence in the comments. You may post on our Facebook page as well. Please leave encouraging comments for your fellow writers.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

The shopping season is here, and to be honest, shopping’s not my favorite thing to do. Or at least that’s what I usually say, but Sunday was different. I started out by picking up our Christmas cards at Walgreens. They were so easy to do. I used my phone and the Walgreens app; there was a 60% off sale, so they were also not that expensive. I left Walgreens with a spring in my step that helped motivate me for the next stop.

After buying a gift card for the name I chose on the angel tree, I found a new-to-me-boutique, right in my home town. All about You. I hit the jackpot on gifts for my Secret Santa gift exchange at school as well as a Christmas t-shirt for me and do-dads for the grands. Having saved some money at Walgreens, I splurged at this shop.

With all this shopping success (not to mention a good phone chat with my sister in the parking lot), I decided to treat myself to a pumpkin cream cold brew at Starbucks. New Iberia is barely large enough to sustain a Starbucks, but this day there was a long drive-through line. No matter. I took the time to check email and Instagram and such. When I got to the overly cheerful man at the window, he announced, “The car ahead of you paid for your drink!”

“Oh no!” I exclaimed. “Pay it forward. Now I have to do it for someone else.”

“The order for the car behind you is only $…”

I flashed my phone and in the blink of an eye, I had passed on the holiday giving cheer.

Sometimes shopping is a burden, but this day turned a chore into a gift.

Pay it Forward

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Michelle Kogan.

This month’s Inkling challenge is from Molly Hogan. She asked us to try a form we’ve been wanting to try. One of her form suggestions was a tricube. Matt Forrest Esenwine wrote about the form here. Matt said the form seems simple, yet it is challenging to say what you want to say in so few syllables. The form uses a mathematical sequence of three, cubed. 3 syllables, 3 lines, 3 stanzas. I wrote one here for my daughters after they treated me to a wonderful birthday weekend.

In my classroom, the gratitude poet-tree has been such a success that we decided to keep it going in December with a Christmas poet-tree. One of my students lost her beloved dog over the break, so I was thinking about how grateful I am for my walking companion Charlie. Charlie is 14 and has a heart murmur, but he still loves to go out for walks with me in the morning.

Charlie+Me=Perfect Cadence

On Monday, my two students came in chatting about their break. They were talking about how their friend had left the school. Katie said she cried, but she would not admit that to anyone but me. She said, “You’re my closest teacher.” This made my heart swell. Trying to capture this emotion in a tricube.

You’re my Closest Teacher

Open door
to comfort,
welcoming.

Freely said,
“I’ll tell you”
words of truth.

Close teacher
listens well.
You matter.

Margaret Simon, draft for Katie

Linda: A Word Edgewise
Heidi: my juicy little universe
Catherine: Reading to the Core
Mary Lee: A(nother) Year of Reading

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Round up of Spiritual Journey posts
can be found at Christine Margocs’ site,
Horizon 51

For our Advent time-of-waiting spiritual journey posts this month, Chris chose the topic of “waiting…with a side of hope.”

Waiting is not easy. It means patience, looking inward… finding peace.

My calendar suggests quite the opposite.

It says go here, do this, buy that.

Hurry up!

So I look to the stars and wonder

What are they waiting for?

The light we see is how old? days? months? years?

Yet it comes anyway.

Christmas will come anyway.

Why worry?

When his mother asked what he wanted Santa to bring him,

he pointed to the Christmas tree

and said, “That funny clown up there!”

Ah, to see waiting through the eyes of a toddler

dancing through each day in wonder.

Let’s change our mantra from “I can’t wait”

to “I Can Wait!”

Waiting brings light and hope and love

wrapped in a timeless gift.

Christmas present by Leo, age 2 yrs 11 months

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town.

Happy Black Friday, a day I am celebrating with another family gathering around our newest grandchild Stella. She is turning one on Tuesday. There will be the traditional day after Thanksgiving gumbo as well as cake and presents and lots of wildness from her toddler brother and cousin. The best kind of Black Friday ever.

In the meantime, I wrote a quick ode to join the Poetry Sisters challenge for this month.

Ode to Autumn

Something in the way you move
attracts the wandering eyes
of this watcher–
a tapestry of yellow and red
settles my wild mind.

Something in the way you move
blows a soft whisper 
to my weathered cheek
not warm like a kiss
but tickles just the same.

Something in the way you move
stirs my soul to memory,
opens the stored-away box
of photos releasing a scent
of amber and wood.

You move quickly, Autumn,
dropping by with a basketful
of acorns and satsumas,
sweet sugarcane cigar,
then leave on a storm cloud.

Take my grief with your wind 
and turn my heart to joy. 

Margaret Simon, draft
For Molly, who lost her dear father on Thanksgiving Day
Satsuma Tree by Margaret Simon

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A Happy Thanksgiving thank you for this little community of writers. Thanks for making time for yourself on Wednesday morning to write along with me and others. I am grateful for you!

This past weekend my daughters and I traveled to Texas wine country. You can read my Slice of Life about it here. Our Airbnb was connected to downtown Fredericksburg by a narrow concrete bridge across Barons Creek. On the chain link fence were locks. Maggie said, “Like Paris!” Oblivious to the reference I took this picture.

Locks over Barons Creek, Fredericksburg, TX by Margaret Simon

I challenge you to write a small poem without using the word locks. If you haven’t tried a tricube form, read Linda Mitchell’s prompt from Ethical ELA. Like haiku, a tricube captures a single moment with few words. Three by three, three syllables in each line, three lines in each stanza, three stanzas. Share your small poems in the comments or on Facebook. Join here.

On my way
across paths
of rivers

I hold on
to your hand
with fervor

Our two hearts
are combined
with vigor

Margaret Simon, draft

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