A Brave Writer mom had this to say in our Playing with Poetry Workshop!
During my introduction, I posted that I had a kid who associated the word poetry with “reading and books” which were “two things I hate!” and I reached out to Susanne to make her aware of a few special needs and couple set of special circumstances and I received the warmest email packed with loads of fantastic suggestions and ideas and here’s what happened:
To my utter shock, the child snatched (yes, snatched!) the book (uhuh, a book!) right out of my hands, tucked a lock of hair behind her little ear, crossed her legs prettily, adjusted her dress, pushed her glasses up her nose, cleared her throat dramatically (“A-hem!”), and proceeded to read aloud to her sister and me (she read aloud!!! And here’s where I got a little lump in my throat and had to clear my own throat a bit, except really quietly, while gulping “tea,” okay it was really lemonade, okay it was a big lump in my throat, okay I was choking on a giant sob, okay now that the kids are in bed and I’m writing about the whole experience I’m choking on that same sob all over again but in a good way! I’m so proud of her!). Obviously, we had a lot of FUN with this assignment! We tweaked it quite a bit to suit our needs, using lots of Susanne’s ideas.
1. Look at the Poem
We looked at all the poems that Susanne had listed online. We didn’t use any books at all at first. We noticed how they were arranged, the way they were grouped, whether or not the lines had periods at the ends. And at first, we did not read them at all! (This was very enticing to my child. “We don’t actually have to read?” “Oh no, this is poetry! This is like Word Art! At first we are just going look and notice! In fact, do not read! Just notice and appreciate the lines of words right now. Absolutely do not read when you first look at poem!”) Eventually, after noticing and appreciating all of the poems (we likened it to strolling around a “Word Art” Gallery), we decided to pick “The Firefly” by Ogden Nash (admittedly because it was the shortest offering listed in Susanne’s list).
2. Every Word Counts
I carefully copied our selected poem into a big piece of construction paper. And then I made a few separate oak tag boards for handwriting practice with three unfamiliar words from our poem for us to figure out. Handwriting isn’t really our thing, so I knew that my daughter wouldn’t be interested in doing copywork for the entire poem. And the oak tag boards were completely optional. But they were big and pretty and I used purple markers and pulled out supplies for us to make drawings of fireflies on them with glow in the dark paint to embellish them, so I was pretty sure that she’d be interested. (She was, since art is her thing!) We didn’t look for the dictionary definition only, we looked in a thesaurus as well, so we could get the gist of what the author was talking about. And then we came up with lots of synonyms of our own too! We looked up the word: EERIER (oddball, creepy, weird, strange) and UNIDENTIFIED (unknown, unnamed, mysterious) and POSTERIOR (rear, backside, behind, or as this author intends it…tushie, bum, b-u-t-t! Insert peals of hysterical rolling on the floor, irreverent, delightful, elementary kid, laughter).
3. Read Poems Aloud – Always!
We read our poem lots of times! We read it over the phone to Dad, who is away on a business trip this week (EERIER rhymes with POSTERIOR which “GUESS WHAT THAT MEANS DAD??”). We read it to our friends when they came over to play! We read it to another friend when he dropped over to visit! And we expanded all our friends’ vocabularies and taught them all the author’s intended meaning of the word “posterior” and Mommy had lots of coffee on Monday and Tuesday (but did I mention that on Tuesday night my daughter read a poetry book? Oh, and it wasn’t authored by Ogden Nash) so it’s all good! It’s all very, very good.
4. The Whole Enchilada!
As I said above, we tweaked the copywork suggestion quite a bit to suit our needs. And we stuck heavily with the goal of enjoying our poem! We had lots and lots of tea parties, lots and lots of teatime treats, we drug big sister in on the tea parties, we seated and served stuffed Pokemon like royalty with their own tea cups! We pulled in firefly art projects, we danced, we made up songs (sorry, Mr. Nash, your lovely little poem got turned into a rap!), and we just had all kinds of fun with our poem for a solid 48 hours. (And I’m sure it will still be going on when she wakes up tomorrow!)