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This was my first time to attend the T.E.C.H.E. Project’s Shake Your Trail Feather Festival in Breaux Bridge, LA on the shores of Bayou Teche, the same bayou that runs behind my home in New Iberia.  When researching for Bayou Song, I found their website and began to take more interest in learning about their mission.  I even discovered that some of our friends are involved.  When I got an email from the tourist commission about this event, I wrote to the organizers and asked if I could sell books and give proceeds to the project.  I didn’t know how much fun I would have!

I set up my book table inside a gazebo with the children’s activities.  The women here welcomed me, and I enjoyed chatting with them all throughout the day.  One of the kids’ activities was a bird scavenger hunt. The children were given a booklet of common bayou birds.  The children decorated “binoculars” made with paper towel tubes and Mardi Gras beads.  Then they searched for pictures with facts placed around the event area.  The kids were charged with writing one fact about each bird and returning for a prize.  The prizes included a bookmark, a sticker, and a turtle puzzle.

Ava came back from her scavenger hunt excited to turn her facts into a poem.  But how?  I showed her the poem “Barred Owl” written with two to three word lines in rhyming couplets, such as “soulful eyes/From hollow spies.”  I talked with Ava about how her facts could become a poem.

“Which bird is your favorite?”

“The belted kingfisher.”

“What did you learn about the kingfisher?”

Ava reads, “He hovers…”

“What rhymes with hovers?”

Ava shouts, “covers!”

“What covers the kingfisher?”

“Feathers!”

I scribed each line as we discussed her ideas.

At one point, Ava turned and ran. I realized she was going back to the fact sheet to find more facts to use.  When we finished writing, she excitedly shared her poem with whomever would listen.  She felt like a poet!

Her grandfather bought her a book, so she copied her poem into her book.  Later when an art teacher happened by, I asked her to help Ava draw a picture of a kingfisher to go with her poem.  Then she not only felt like a poet, she was an artist too.

Ava, 3rd grade, copied her poem into her Bayou Song book.

Me with Ava and her little sister celebrating writing poetry and art at the Shake Your Trail Feather Festival.

Huge kingfisher sculptures adorn a party barge that led the canoe paddle on Bayou Teche.

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