Poetry Friday: Winding Down

It’s the middle of May. For most teachers, the countdown has begun. Some are closer to the finish line than others, but regardless of the date, we are all beginning to wind down a full year of teaching and learning with our students.

For some, it can be a time of some sadness. My friend Margaret @ Reflections on the Teche recently published a blog post titled “May Blues” where she shared her own struggles in finding joy at the end of the year. I think many teachers can relate to her own reflections, struggling with worry about whether or not we did all we could do to get our learners where they needed to be by year’s end.

And the last day goodbyes. Those can be the toughest part about winding down. For me, I already feel myself getting choked up thinking about what it will look like on kindergarten graduation day. While I will likely see many of the faces of my students next year when they return as 1st graders, some won’t be there, having moved to a different school. Either way, they won’t be mine anymore.

My time, my influence, and my relationships with them are winding down, and will soon be no more.

Join me over at Sloth Reads, where our host for Poetry Friday is Rebecca Herzog! She is giving away a very funny book of poems titled I’m Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups. Thanks for hosting, Rebecca!

Poetry Friday round-up is with Rebecca at Sloth Reads

Five for Friday: Celebrating Mom

While pursuing other #PoetryFriday posts this morning, I came upon Michelle Barnes’s post over at Today’s Little Ditty. Her “Five for Friday” topic was to write a five word poem about a special gift you had either given or received from your mom.

I immediately began thinking of gifts my mom gave me. One of the first thoughts that came to me wasn’t a material gift, but instead it was the give of time that my mom gave so generously in her life. When I remember my mom, I see someone who was always willing to sacrifice her time for others.

When I first became a mom, my mother was right there by my side for those first overwhelming, emotional, and unbelievably exhausting 2 weeks as I transitioned into being a mom. One of the things she loved most was giving my daughter Erica her evening bath. This ritual was a bonding time for both of them, and gave me a chance to rest after a tiring day. Watching her talk, sing and coo with her granddaughter brought me such joy, and I know was equally gratifying for her as a grandma.

I went on to have two more daughters, and her sweet bath time rituals were once again repeated with each of them. These moments and memories placed deep roots in their special relationships with each other. I know she treasured her role as a grandma deeply, and sharing bubbles and giggles together was one of her most coveted routines with her granddaughters.

Meme is gone now, but when I remember her on this Mother’s Day, one extra special gift I celebrate that she gave me was her love and devotion to my daughters. She exemplified selfless love and helped me become the mom I am today.

And one day, when I get to hold my first grand-baby in my arms, the first thing I will be longing to do is savor sweet bath times together, just like Meme did.

Poetry Friday: A Diamante Poem

Poetry Friday round-up is @ Jama”s Alphabet Soup


Our #PoetryFriday gathering this week is over at Jama’s Alphabet Soup where you’ll find delicious blueberry muffins & tea waiting, along with a plethora of wonderful poetry for your enjoyment. Won’t you join us today?

On a few of my morning walks with our two cockapoos this week, I have been greeted by the aftermath of a spring rain shower. The smell is simply glorious, and is another reminder that spring is here. There is nothing like the fragrant smell of spring rain. Even the rain itself seems different than rain at other times of the year. It has a gentler spirit and a different presence. It’s almost like it is telling us, “I am only here for a brief moment, and the sun will return shortly.”

I left school this evening and walked out into another rain shower. With all of my moments experiencing this pleasure of spring, I decided to try a diamante poem to celebrate what has brought me such quiet pleasure this week.

Poetry Friday: Hello, Spring!

Poetry Friday round-up is with Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales.

Back in  February I wrote a #PoetryFriday post on a bitterly cold and snowy Friday. We had recently watched several inches of snow fall, which meant there was a whole lot of snow removal that needed to be done. Winter felt like it was never going to end. February can be a long month in Montana, with many days of very cold temperatures, and often our heaviest snowfalls.

Fast forward just three months, and winter is a long departed memory from everyone’s minds. It was a long winter season, and it almost felt like we slipped from winter to spring in only a few day’s time. I took my kindergartners for a spring observation walk only a couple of weeks ago, and the buds on the trees were still tightly closed, but it took only a week of warmer temperatures in the high 60s and low 70s to encourage those buds to open up and reveal their beauty within. In February what looked like dead, skeleton-like trees have now transformed into budding green trees of beauty.

For my February post, I took a picture on a quiet block here in my neighborhood. Despite the cold that day, it actually was quite picturesque. Today on my way to school, I drove to the same spot and took a picture. The side-by-side comparisons are something to behold. I can see beauty in both images, but somehow my spring photo brings a warmth to my heart and joy to my spirit.

Welcome, at long last, Spring!

Celebrate Poetry Friday: Kinders Meet Middle Graders!

For today’s #PoetryFriday, I am linking up with others with Tabatha Yeatts @ her blog, The Opposite of Indifference. Thank you for hosting our gathering today, Tabatha.

Today’s #PoetryFriday is hosted by Tabatha @ The Opposite of Indifference

I am also linking up with Ruth Ayres to #Celebrate a very exciting day of poetry writing in my class this week. Click here to read other celebration posts, or better yet, add your own. The more the merrier!

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

In my first year teaching kindergarten, I committed whole-heartedly to teaching my littles poetry during the month of April. We have read a lot of poetry over the months in anticipation for the time they would begin composing their own poems.

I am happy to report that we are making great progress! With the help of Regie Routman’s book, Kids Poems: Teaching Kindergartners to Love Poetry, I have found the process to be a great deal of fun. My kids arrive at the rug each day, eager to read poetry from other young writers, talk about what they notice, and then try it out for themselves. Most days before I send them off to write, I model writing a poem through a shared writing experience, and some days we write together.

This week our focus was food. I told them they were “foodie poets” for the day. I shared with them how much I love sweets, and that one of my favorite sweet treats is cupcake ice cream. We decided to interactively write a poem about this delicious treat together.

When we finished, we were so excited. In the moment, I suggested we share our piece with a teacher friend of mine (and maybe yours too..she’s pretty well-known in the #PoetryFriday world!) Margaret Simon. We practiced reading it several times, then I took a video of them as they read it aloud. I sent it off to her, hoping we would get her feedback before day’s end.

While my students were at lunch, I was thrilled to receive a response from not only Margaret, but two of her students. They had watched our video and decided they would write a poem in response to ours! They posted a picture of the poem along with a Voxer recording of them reading it aloud. I couldn’t wait to share this with my students!

Later that afternoon, we listened to their poem and celebrated the joy of poetry. I’m not sure they completely understood how amazing it was that technology made it possible for kids all the way across the country to see us read our poem and then send one right back to us. I tried sharing my When-I-was-in-kindergarten-we-didn’t-have-computers stories, but I’m not sure they really got it.

What I do know they got was joy in writing and sharing poetry! This experience fueled them for the next day of writing, and the next, and the next. They have yet to tire of coming back to the blank page each day and trying another poem. Sharing our pieces with each other spurs on more excitement, as our folders begin to bulge with growing anthologies. I am hoping each student will find one gem they want to take all the way to final publishing and reciting at graduation in June.

It’s right around the corner!

#SOLC18 23/31: Hello Spring! (at long last)

Today’s #PoetryFriday is hosted by Laura at Writing the World for Kids

Always the first sign of spring where I live is the appearance of tiny buds that will eventually be blossoming bleeding hearts in our garden beds. Some years they have started springing up in late February, but the past couple of winters have held on tight until nearly the last week of March.

For Poetry Friday and the Slice of Life Challenge, I enjoyed writing a poem to celebrate the warmer days ahead filled with chalk drawing on the sidewalks, blooming daffodils, and a fond farewell to snow pants, snow boots, and all the bulky winter gear!

#SOLC18 16/31: Kinders ask: What’s a Grāpple?


Today’s #PoetryFriday is hosted by Linda at TeacherDance

Snack time in kindergarten is a coveted time. On most Thursdays, a fresh fruit or vegetable snack is delivered to our classrooms from our school district’s central kitchen. Today’s snack was something altogether new to my students.

The Grāpple. Have you heard of this unique fruit? They come from the state of Washington, and are an apple that basically has been infused with food-grade grape flavor through a sort of bathing process. It’s quite a fascinating process that you can learn all about here.  Basically, they are an apple that tastes like a grape – no kidding!

As we were munching on our apple slices, a few kids commented that they smelled something in the room. I told them that was from the grāpples. As I explained the process to them, we began talking about how tasty they were. I told them to close their eyes and asked them what color came to their mind as they were eating. A few said blue, and I told them I saw purple while I ate mine.

We continued visiting about how much we liked them and how unique they were, this half grape/half apple snack. Suddenly inspired, I proposed to them, “We should write a poem about the grāpple!” To which they enthusiastically responded, “YES, YES!”

Keep in mind, this would only be my second attempt at an interactive poetry writing experience with my students. I wasn’t entirely sure how it would work out; I am still new myself to writing poetry, so imagine what it might look like as I lead 18 six year-olds through the process. Seasoned teachers of poetry, you might shudder if you were a fly on the wall…

To clarify, they are not entirely new to the genre of poetry; I have been reading poems to them nearly every day for a better part of this school year. A few kids have dabbled in writing a poem here and there, but for the most part their experience has been nearly all receptive. As we launched into writing, I reminded them of what we have noticed about poetry: short sentences with powerful descriptive words.

I must admit, I was genuinely surprised at the high level of engagement I saw in everyone. Even my students who I consider struggling readers and/or writers contributed to the process. It was as if they had come to life in this endeavor!

While not a piece of poetic genius, I think they gave great thought and consideration to the ideas they shared, and welcomed my support along the way with suggestions for upping the descriptive word choices here and there.

With that, I proudly present our ode to the Grāpple: