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.

Kinders Say the Darndest Things!

As a kindergarten teacher, I am witness to many funny quips and comments from the little learners I share space with day after day. One minute I am hearing about their latest video game marvels, followed by a detailed play-by-play of what happened to their puppy when it got stuck under the couch. Colorful stories are always sprinkled with the unique perspective that only a 5 or 6 year-old can have.

Today I was completely taken by surprise by sweet John, and bright young boy in my class. Since the first days of school, John has kept me on schedule; his watchful eye to our daily routines never allow a single thing to slip by. Every classroom needs a John!

Last Thursday we launched into a mini unit on information writing. Specifically, the kids were going to put on the hat of researcher, and write about an animal of their choice. I have an amazing TCWRP classroom library with a great variety of nonfiction titles, and animal books are in abundance. I gathered the kids together, and explained to them that they were getting ready to do BIG things as writers.

I decided to use an analogy of swimming to help them understand that this day’s lesson would simply be to choose an animal book they wanted to use for their research. We would spend our time looking at our books to begin our first day of research. I asked them to think about this writing adventure as if I were taking them to the lake and preparing them to swim for the first time. Today, we would simply be dipping our toes into the water of research writing.

Honestly, I completely forgot about my analogy. Friday came, and I excitedly gathered writers in small groups of 4 or 5, and modeled how we would be using four different colored post-it notes to search for specific facts about our animals in their books. The blue post-it would be what color their animal is, pink would be where it lives, green would be what it eats, and purple would be a fun fact of their choosing. Away they went! These researchers took on this task with gusto, and by the end of the morning, everyone had their post-it notes done, and were ready for the next day’s lesson.

Monday I again worked with them in small groups, and brought out special lined writing paper, modeling how they could lay out their post-its in whatever order they wished, and write each of their facts on one piece of paper. Again, they went to task. Furiously writing, with a little editing here and there, my research writers completed their pieces with great pride.

Today we gathered once again for our workshop time, and I announced to them that today they would be illustrators! I reminded them that many of the books we read have one person who writes the words, and another who draws the pictures, and that today they would be illustrating a picture of their animal for their research piece.

I looked out at their faces, full of anticipation. Suddenly, John raised his hand.

“Yes, John? What is your question?”

“Well,” he asked, “where are we in the water now?”

It took me a second for his question to completely register. Of course! I last left them tiptoeing in the water, so now where were we?! A fair, and marvelous question to ask!

I laughed. I high-fived him. I was utterly on the spot with what I would say to answer his sincere question, and had to think quickly about what I would say. I repeated his question to the rest of the class, because I had a feeling a few of them perhaps had no clue what he was talking about. I affirmed to them that yes, last week when they began looking at their animal books, we were just tiptoeing in the water.

“But, boys and girls,” I continued, “on Friday when you started writing your post-it notes, I sort of picked you up out of the shallow water, walked you to the end of the dock and dropped you right into the water! I had a feeling that you were in fact ready to jump in and do the real work of research writers!”

Their eyes lit up with excitement as I went on to explain. “Research writers, you did some very BIG work on Friday as you researched, read, and wrote about your animals on those four post-it notes! You were swimming in very deep water, and you were amazing!”

So, back to John’s wondering: Where are we in the water now, Mrs. Burtsfield?

“As illustrators today, boys and girls, we are all just swimming and enjoying the water together! Today you will continue your journey as researchers by looking carefully at the photos of your animal in your book, and illustrate with great detail for your readers.”

The rest of the workshop was full of sketching, erasing, experimenting, and more drawing. Today was their first go at illustrating. Tomorrow we will get out the “real” drawing paper and they will draw their masterpieces.

I might ask them tomorrow where they think we are in the water now. My guess is they might declare, “The water is great! Come on in!”


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!

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Special Days

Today our Spiritual Journey Thursday is hosted by Violet Nesdoly, and our topic is special days that are celebrated in our families. My first reaction to this topic was one of uncertainty that I had a special family tradition to share around a holiday event, birthday celebrations, or a unique special day our family celebrates.

After a little more thought, I realized that in fact we do have a very special tradition that I have made a priority as a mother of four daughters. I started the tradition with our oldest daughter, and it continued on through each girl.

We call it “Women’s Day” and it is a celebration just for my daughter and me on the day when she gets her first period. This transition from childhood is one that I wanted to mark as a celebration, and not have it be perceived by my girls as something to be embarrassed about.

Our tradition was simple, but special. We went to lunch together, and then shopping for a special gift. As I recall, each of the girls chose a simple piece of jewelry they could wear to remember our day together celebrating this milestone in their life.

We kept it simple and low-key, not announcing it to everyone – although the younger sisters were aware, and I’m sure a little envious of their older sibling’s special date with mom. This, I am quite certain, left them waiting with expectancy for the day when they too would get to be celebrated in the same way.

My girls are all nearly grown and gone now, so reflecting back on these celebratory days with them brings a smile to my face, and a hope in my heart that they too will keep this special tradition alive in their families, should they too be blessed raising daughters.


SOL: May Day Memories of Mom

Today is May Day. I have always loved May Day. I remember once as a young girl, secretly leaving May baskets at the doorstep of friends I knew. Ringing the bell and then quickly running away was so much fun! I remember watching the look on the recipients’ faces when they opened their door to discover an unexpected surprise.

May 1 is also my mother’s birthday. I don’t have the same feeling of anticipation for May Day like I used to though, now that she is gone. She passed away a little over two years ago, and the arrival of May still stings. This year is especially hard, as we prepare to watch yet another daughter graduate from high school. I am sad she isn’t here anymore to share in the joy of these milestones.

Maybe I should renew the May Day basket ritual of my youth today. What if, In her memory, I brought joy into someone else’s day to celebrate the arrival of May? Instead of a birthday cake and presents in her honor, perhaps this could be another way to remember her and spread a little kindness and love along the way.

Happy May Day!