Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Cute (and candid!) snow poems

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Snow poems

After listening to poetry nearly every week the last 8 or so months, my kids have really started to take an interest in their own writing.

As winter weather stormed through our area, we declared a day all about snow–including snow poetry. We read snow poetry, then headed outside to play in the snow and generate our own poem ideas.

Both children made several comments we thought would be the perfect start for some poems. They were so proud of their work and became excited at the chance to send it to the person who created Poetry Tea Time.

I’m so grateful we took a trip through the “Jot It Down” stage. Thanks so much for the lifestyle change and fun Brave Writer has brought into our homeschool!


“My Feet are Snot Wet” by Mikaela (age 5)

My feet are snot wet you know
That’s what happens when I play in the snow
My boots and gloves are frosty, iced with cold
If only I could stand this weather better, maybe when I’m old….

I’m tiny and short and when I slip and fall
Cold winter soaks to my fingers each and all
Now my fingers, gloves, boots, and feet are snot wet.
What part of fun snow day, Winter, did you not get?

“Little White Robbers” by Clark (age 8)

Snow is going left, snow is going right
I suspect the snowflakes might steal something tonight.
They’re angry and the black dirt specks look like robber hats.
Angry about gravity pulling them from sky above to ground flat.
There are millions, billions falling more
Preventing us from gathering necessities at the grocery store.
If only summer would rush in quick and soon
Nope, the snow has stolen it. Next they’re after the moon.

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Student Spotlight: Tomy!

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

We love it when Brave Writer students share their writing with us! Tomy (age 8) wrote a holiday poem for an Arrow project. He says:

I would of never write this verse if wasn’t for the book Inside Out and Back Again and the Arrow project. I never read free verse before so Thanhha Lai inspired me to write in free verse, and I thought it was fun!

Thanhha Lai writes about what is important to her, so I wrote something important to me. Christmas is very important to me and I am always wondering how Santa travels since I don’t believe he travels by Reindeer.

I did really enjoy organizing my free verse with lots of one word lines.

Here is Tomy’s poem:

Everything is wrong

I like to hear
they have a

I like to see
they are lited up

But everything is
travels every

Image © Waupee |

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Sonnet of the Seasons

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

All four seasons - Outside my window


While cleaning out folders and getting ready for the new school year I found a poem that my daughter Emily (age 11) wrote at the end of last school year. I’m not sure if I shared it with you at the time or not.

We were using the Arrow Poetry lessons and I also checked a book out of the library called P is for Poetry (A Poetry Alphabet Book) that had descriptions and examples of various kinds of poetry. This was something she did just for fun. I wanted to share it with you.

I’m so thankful to Brave Writer for inspiring better writing from my girls!


Sonnet of the Seasons

by Emily

I step out of my house and start to sing,
The white fur turned to brown atop the hare,
The new life starts to celebrate the Spring,
Now running through the grass my feet are bare.

But Woosh! Woosh! Ping! The nice grass turns to pods,
I step up, “Here I go!” I take a dive,
The water underneath me feels so cool!
And now I feel so glad to be alive!

But suddenly the green leaves turn to gold,
This time of harvest is the turkey’s fate,
For when the leaves fall from the tree’s weak hold,
Yummy turkey meat is on my plate.

And now that lovely autumn isn’t here,
I’m glad to say that winter break is near!

Image by Sundar M (cc)

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Beating Time

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

From one of our talented Brave Writer students:

Ms. Julie,

Mrs. Susanne asked me to send you a copy of a poem that I wrote, which recently won a contest hosted by my city’s local newspaper. I owe much of my poetic knowledge to Mrs. Susanne and to the Brave Writer classes I’ve taken over the years. So here’s an ode to the fruits of Brave Writer!

Beating Time

By Leanna Haag

Listen child, and hear my voice,
Come sit upon my knee;
I will tell you of the time
When bridges sang to me.

Walking down the path one night
I came upon the bridge,
Locked down in the holler deep,
Tight-cradled by the ridge.

Its little roof was crooked,
Its piles glared gloomy grey,
The slippery boards that bound it
Were iced with foamy spray.

I shuddered as I watched it,
Still swaying in the mist.
I ran to meet it, quaking;
It snatched me in its fist.

The rocking bridge rolled ‘neath me,
The slats began to croon,
The river water gurgled,
And jazzed a bluesy tune.

The wind strummed cable cellos –
It whistled through the eaves,
Tugging at my loosened hair
And pulling at my sleeves.

The stars skipped out to swing-dance
With waltzing, tinkling bells.
The moon rose high to watch them,
Quick-stepping with the swells.

The planets stopped to watch us,
The Earth stood still to hear
The purest song in Nature,
Breathed on the silent pier.

The bridge beat out the chorus,
The sharp ice hummed in key.
In the country air we danced –
The sky, the bridge and me.

To times when bridges sang,
My child, I’ve bid adieu.
But in your eyes, now I see
Time’s bridged ‘tween me and you.

Congratulations, Leanna! Your award was well deserved!

Image © Stevenrussellsmithphotos |

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Poetry Celebration Winners!

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

Poet-Tree by CassidyInspired by National Poetry Month, Brave Writer student Cassidy (a winner in last month’s Poetry Contest!) created a “Poet-Tree” filled with her poems

Brave Writer so enjoyed sponsoring and co-hosting the Children’s Poetry Celebration and Contest! A big THANK YOU to all who participated!

Here are the winning poems in each age category:

4-6 Year Olds

A Love For Horses by Alyssa

Graceful, Herbivore
Galloping, Nuzzling, Cantering
I Love All Horses.

7-9 Year Olds

Flower Sonnet by Cassidy

My oh, my a daisy
standing in this black haze.
Someone must be crazy
To plant this plant unfazed.

My oh, my a lily
Standing in the wild.
Someone is knocked silly,
Someone is a child.

My oh, my a blue star
Standing in this tarred yard.
Someone is real bizarre
And thinks he is a bard

Now you’ve heard these curses
Bring in the plant nurses.

10-12 Year Olds

Words by Rachel

Every night, when there is not a single sound
Words from books come alive, move around
Quietly, so there is no catastrophe
They come out and show their personality

“Lively” bounces right off the page
Dancing, while having a big smile on its face
“Shy” simply finds a corner and hides
Afraid to be seen by human eyes

“Curious” inspects everything everywhere
Hoping for something exciting to share
“Arrogant” sniffs and demands praise
But the only one who notices is “Amazed”

“Bored” sighs again and again
Waiting for something that interests him
“Anxious” races around the room
Shouting that everyone is doomed

That’s only a few, but I wanted you to know
About what happens when your eyes are closed WINNER
So the next time you can’t seem to find any sleep
Go to your bookshelf…what do you see?

Thanks to Preschool Powol Packets for organizing the event! Hop over to their site to see more fabulous entries!

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The Value of Poetry

Thursday, April 17th, 2014



The Value of Poetry

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

William Carlos Williams

As we celebrate National Poetry Month, I just finished teaching Brave Writer’s annual “Playing with Poetry Workshop.” And once again, I recognized the intrinsic value of reading, teaching, and learning to write poetry to and with our kids.

So why should we study poetry in our homeschools?

Poetry teaches us the beauty and potential of the English language. The innovative use of language—of diction (word choice), metaphor and simile, other figures of speech, punctuation and capitalization—encourages our fledgling writers to take a chance with language. Our kids (and we parents alongside them) learn to play with words and language: transforming a noun into a verb, altering the “correct” use punctuation to create a fresh result, comparing two extremely different objects that seem to have no connection whatsoever, using alliteration (repeating initial consonant sounds in a line/sentence) for emphasis, employing a certain rhythm and cadence to our writing, and experimenting with new ways to entice readers through language.

Take a look at this apparently simplistic poem by e.e. cummings, one of the most innovative poets of the 20th century:

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,

and milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:

and may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.

This poem, which seems to be intended for children, has a lovely rhythm, containing rhyme in only the first and last couplets (a two-line stanza or “paragraph” in poetry), alliteration (the repeating “m-” sound at the beginning of words in the first line), simile (a “stone/as small as a world and as large as alone”), metaphor (“a stranded star/whose rays five languid fingers were”), personification (“a shell that sang/ so sweetly”), and a theme (message): “For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)/ it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”

In the wonderful book Painless Poetry by Mary Elizabeth, she sets forth some excellent ideas for learning to enjoy poetry:

Notice the overall way the poem fills (or doesn’t fill) the page. It doesn’t look like the usual prose paragraphs we read in textbooks or novels, does it? Lines of poetry don’t cover the entire page. Also, look for breaks between groups of lines. Poems are often written in collections of lines that are called STANZAS—kind of like paragraphs of poetry. Stanzas consist of short, long, or different lengths of lines, most of which have at least several words. Each poem looks different, depending on the number and length of lines and stanzas; each poem is a unique creation, and being aware of each poem’s appearance is important in appreciating it.

The precise meaning of a poem depends on the precise meaning of the words in the poem. The more familiar readers of poems are with words in a poem, the easier understanding and analyzing poetry can be. We need to keep our eyes and ears open and resist skipping words or phrases that we don’t understand in a poem; instead, we should always research unfamiliar words in dictionaries or online. If we don’t thoroughly understand each word and phrase in a poem, we may miss an important clue to the overall tone (mood/emotion) or meaning of a poem. Poetry is all about the details!

Poems are meant to be read aloud even if we are studying poetry by ourselves. Poetry is more than just the meaning of words: sound is central to understanding poetry. Listen for repeated sounds, words, and phrases (circle or underline them)—repetition is always a key to the poem’s meaning or tone. Also consider how the sound of the poem adds to the meaning or tone of the poem. Take note of rhyming words and other sound effects that may emphasize certain words and/or phrases. Again, sound effects often provide clues to the meaning and tone of poems.

The relationship between sound and meaning may not always be obvious, but possible relationships between sound and meaning may lead us to a deeper understanding of a poem. Consider images or memories that may be triggered by a poem and decide if they are important to understanding the poem. Always read a poem at least three times, if not more. We need to give ourselves the chance to pay attention to all of the elements of a poem each time we read it, and remember to read it ALOUD—always! Jot down any ideas about meaning or tone, any questions, anything at all in the margins of the poem. If you happen to be squeamish about writings in books, then make a copy of the page the poem is on and write on that copy.

Copywork is very important in understanding poetry, and it’s not only for our younger students. Even now as an adult, I still copy poems that grab my attention into my journal or commonplace book. Somehow, the poems become so much clearer to me as I linger over what flows from the nib of my pen: word by word, phrase by phrase, line by line, stanza by stanza. Writing poems out by hand slows us down, allowing us to think more deeply about an image or a metaphor; in addition, writing a poem in our own cursive penmanship helps us to make poem more ours—it gives us a feeling of kinship and/or ownership of the copied poem. It’s also lovely to have a journal full of the poems that speak specifically to each of us.

Composing different forms of poetry also reinforces our study of poets and their work. In the Playing with Poetry Workshop, we teach the basics of poetry analysis and structure and how to read and truly enjoy poetry. Then we experiment with composing free verse including autobiographical and “I Am From…” free verse poems; visual poetry including shape poems, concrete poems, and acrostics; cinquain and diamante poems; the Japanese poetry forms of haiku and tanka; conventional poetry, including couplets, tercets (and terza rima), quatrains, and limericks; and finally alternative poetry which encompassed fragmented poems, “After…” poems, kennings, and then various types of “found” poems including black-out poems, highlighted poems, and book spine poems, among others.

Some of the families from the Playing with Poetry Workshop reinforce the value of studying and writing poetry:

Jeena writes,
“We see poetry everywhere now and you have opened our eyes to many poetic forms. Poetry is now a topic I feel comfortable discussing, I used to shy away from it. Josh has widened his writing range. Most of all I want to thank you for a writing class that didn’t seem like a writing class. Josh, my usually reluctant writer, wrote fast and enthusiastically and never once complained. That really is a miracle for us! He felt encouraged, understood and positively challenged.”

Linda shares,
“When I began this class I thought about poetry as something classical that I should have read or known about already but didn’t, as something silly and childish that rhymed, as something esoteric and mysterious. But now that I’ve taken this class I have fortunately had my eyes opened to new and amazing poetic possibilities. First of all anyone can write poetry, about anything. It just takes a willingness to play with sounds and words and ideas. Learning about free verse has been the most marvelous concept I have come across in a long time. I am so glad we began the course this way. I understand now why children find it so hard to write a poem (i.e., one that rhymes). All the effort goes into finding some unconvincing rhyme while all the lovely naturally spoken phrases and words that come unbidden out of a child’s mouth disappear unused into the ether. I also appreciate the fact that sometimes there isn’t anything to “get” about the poem. I can enjoy it as a delight of words instead of thinking I’ve missed some deeper meaning.

“By working every day with poems and poetry my children definitely had a jump start in their understanding of elements and artistry. We talk the poetry lingo more intelligently now, flipping off phrases like, ‘Oh yes this stanza has an abab rhyming scheme’ and other perspicacious verbalisms. Seriously though, we are noticing things like alliteration, personification, similes, etc., etc., and thinking about persona more readily in poetry we read as well as recognizing it in our own poetry (where it still mostly happens by happy accident). We have had good discussions about appealing to senses other than the overused one of sight. We are beginning to be able to express why we might like this poem but not that one. There is still so much to learn, but at least we are unfolding in the right direction.”

So how can we celebrate National Poetry Month?

The Academy of American Poets hosts all sorts of poetry fun at their site. Here’s their page devoted to National Poetry Month. And they even have a National Poetry Month FAQ, so check it out!

It was through that I first started reading the Poem-a-Day e-mails. A free service, recipients receive contemporary poems, usually unpublished and written within the last year on weekdays while weekends are reserved for classic poems in the public domain, a.k.a. “old friends.”

You may sign up for this amazing gift of starting your day with poetry here: Poem-A-Day. And it was recently revealed that the American Academy of Poets “…signed a deal with King Features to syndicate Poem-a-Day. This means that the new, previously unpublished poems we are publishing during the week will be available to editors at a wide range of newspapers, news websites, and magazines…. It’s been a generation since new poems have been available to daily news readers.”

In addition, started the annual celebration of Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day in which we are encouraged to tuck a favorite poem (written by us or by a favorite poet) into our pocket and share it with at least one other person during the course of our day. Which day? Thursday, April 24 is the official Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day, so prepare!! More information can be obtained on the page Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day.

Also in celebration of National Poetry Month, students may write poems in response to poems written by professional poets: 2014 Poet to Poet Project. Very cool!!

So whether you take a trip to the library and check out some poetry books to peruse together during Poetry Teatimes, or look up some poetry forms and try to write them together as a family (involve dads, too—they can write some awesome poems!), or share a Poem from Your Pocket on April 24, find a way to make poetry part of your week—even part of your day—in your homeschooling life.

“You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring some of it with you.” ~Joseph Joubert

~Susanne Barrett, Brave Writer Senior Instructor (MA Poetry and British Literature)

Photo Credit: Tammy Wahl Photography

First poem!

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Hogwarts Poem_NataliePoetry Teatimes can lead to wonderful, unexpected results!

The following features the acrostic poem (when a word is spelled vertically then words or phrases that start with the same letters are added) of Brave Writer student, Natalie, who is a huge Harry Potter fan!

Hi Julie,

Our second tea time evolved into a poetry freewrite! We had watched a short BrainPop Jr. Video on poetry and this format obviously struck a chord with Natalie.

She proudly read it to me:


Howls echo from Lupin
Owls are coming
Grawp’s learning English
Waves coming from mermen
Amazing spells working
Ron’s daddy dies
Tests are done
Spells perfect.

Funny, just noticed she ended it with a single period. So glad she isn’t intimidated by writing a poem.

You’ve let me know more than anyone else that I’m doing the right thing. I’ve been reading through years of your blog entries and listening to your podcasts – your journey is filling me with the confidence I needed to keep us on our unknown path. I can’t wait to share more with you!


Image (cc)

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line)! If we select your photo to post then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang of your choice (once per family). Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

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2014 Children’s Poetry Celebration & Contest PLUS Cinquain Poems!!

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Poetry_CelebrationApril is National Poetry Month! In celebration we’ll be sharing about CINQUAIN POEMS today, but first we want to tell you about the awesome drawing and poetry contest created by Preschool Powol Packets!

During April, co-hosting blogs (like ours!) will post about poetry. Comment on these posts to be entered in a DRAWING for a POETRY PRIZE. An additional entry is available for following host blogs on Facebook (for instance, if you follow Brave Writer, comment here so the entry can be counted).

Kids Poetry Contest!

There’s also a cool Poetry Contest for kids! Children can enter one or two original poems (30 lines or shorter) in one of the following age categories: 4-6, 7-9, 10-12. Entries will be accepted any time during the month of April via a form at Preschool Powol Packets. Poems will be judged on creativity, originality, style, and language. Judging may be subjective and all decisions are final. This year’s contest will be judged by the lovely Becky at This Reading Mama. More info at Preschool Powol Packets.

The following comes from a Playing With Poetry online class
taught by our very own Susanne Barrett.

A Cinquain is a five-lined poem (hence the name!) and is a favorite poetic form for many kids because, as one of our students pointed out, “they are easy and fun to write and they don’t require a whole lot of words!” They also reinforce some basic grammatical parts of speech.

Format for Writing a Cinquain:

Line 1: One word (a noun, the subject of the poem)
Line 2: Two words (adjectives that describe the subject in line 1)
Line 3: Three words (-ing action verbs–participles–that relate to the subject in line 1)
Line 4: Four words (a phrase or sentence that relates feelings about the subject in line 1)
Line 5: One word (a synonym for the subject in line 1 or a word that sums it up)

Alternative Line 5 for older poets: Five words (a phrase or sentence that further relates feelings about the subject in line 1)

Sometimes each line is centered to create a diamond or tree-like shape.

Here’s a Cinquain off the top of my head:

Clever, crafty
Writing, composing, describing
Best words, best order

For older and/or more practiced students, the precise syllables for the cinquain should be observed, following the directions above for relating to the subject of the poem in the first line:

Line 1: two syllables
Line 2: four syllables
Line 3: six syllables
Line 4: eight syllables
Line 5: two syllables (alternative line: ten syllables)

Students may capitalize all the words, none of the words, the first words of each line, or just certain words. And each poem may be capitalized differently, depending on its subject matter, diction (word choice), etc. Just see which way feels the best to you for each poem. Also, slight variations of syllables are okay.

Here’s another Cinquain poem by Dawn Slanker:

Loyal, Brave
Loving, Playing, Guarding
Best friend of man

If your kids write a Cinquain poem, they can submit it to the 2014 Children’s Poetry Celebration & Contest.

The Sponsors

Prize details are at Preschool Powol Packets (Psst! Brave Writer has donated our Arrow Poetry Guide).
Image of paper and pen © |

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Friday Freewrite: Springtime Poem!

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Dogwood blossom in the skyImage by Jinx!

Yesterday was the first day of spring and today is World Poetry Day! Let’s combine the two and write an acrostic poem about the season.

Acrostic poems are fun to do. First, write the word “spring” vertically like this:


Next, brainstorm words/phrases that describe the season then place words/phrases on the lines that begin with the same letters. For inspiration, here are a couple of one word per line acrostic poems, and here are some that use phrases.


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Student Spotlight: Anna

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

Purple FlowerImage by William Warby

This lovely poem was sent to us by Brave Writer, Anna:

The Flower’s Dance

by Anna Shields (age 12)

The petals of the flower are its ball gown
moving around as it dances slowly in the wind.
Its purple gown shimmers,
reflecting the suns light.

The clouds start to cry tears of happiness
as they watch the flower dance.
Their tears drop to the ground and the flower stretches up
and bows her head to thank them.

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