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Poetry for Children

Module 2

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MAJOR POETS

MODULE 2:  MAJOR POETS
 
Module 2 will consist of one poem from each of the following major poets:  Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, Judith Viorst, Douglas Florian, and Lee Bennett Hopkins.  A Poetry Book Review of one book published since 1995 by one of the above poets will also be included.
 
SHEL SILVERSTEIN
 
INTRODUCTION:
The Shel Silverstein poem "The Voice" would work well in a lesson related to teaching about conscience and making right and wrong decisions and choices.  The lesson could be started by asking students to think about a time when they knew something was wrong but did it anyway.  Students could share stories of related incidents.  Then the Silverstein poem could be read aloud.
 
THE VOICE
by Shel Silverstein
 
There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long
"I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong."
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What's right for you---just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.
 
From Falling Up by Shel Silverstein
 
EXTENSION:
The term "conscience" could be discussed.  Students could be asked if they ever did the right thing after hearing a little voice that told them to do the right thing.  Or they could be asked if they ever take time out before acting on impulses to decide if their actions are right or wrong.  This lesson could be extended further by adding the reading of children's story that deals with making right and wrong choices or listening to your conscience.
 
 
 
JACK PRELUTSKY
 
INTRODUCTION:
This could be a "getting to know you" lesson to be done at the beginning of the school year in order for students and teacher to get to know each other better.  The teacher could read the poem and then ask students if they could put 20 small items in their pockets that somehow would let everyone know more about them and their interests and personalities, what would those 20 items be?
 
A FROG, A STICK
by Jack Prelutsky
 
A frog, a stick,
a shell, a stone,
a paper clip,
a chicken bone.
A feather quill,
a piece of string,
a ladybug,
a beetle wing.
A greenish wad
of bubble gum,
assorted keys,
and cookie crumbs.
A maple leaf,
a candy bar,
a rubber band,
a model car.
Potato chips
and soggy fries,
plus something
I can't recognize.
A broken watch,
a plastic cow . . .
that's what's inside
my pockets now.
 
From A Pizza the Size of the Sun by Jack Prelutsky
 
EXTENSION:
Depending on the ages and abilities of the students, the students could either make a list, write a paragraph or write a poem like Prelutsky's which would include at least 20 items to help the class get to know them better.  Students could pair up with a classmate, and each partner could read the other person's poem, list or paragraph aloud to the class in order to spare the author the embarrassment on the first day or first week of school.
 
 
JUDITH VIORST
 
INTRODUCTION:
Ask the class if anyone is currently worried about anything that they would be willing to share with the class.  Tell the class something you (the teacher) are currently worried about.  Read the children's book Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes to the class.  Then read the following Viorst poem to the class.
 
Fifteen, Maybe Sixteen, Things to Worry About
by Judith Viorst
 
My pants could maybe fall down when I dive off the diving board.
My nose could maybe keep growing and never quit.
Miss Brearly could ask me to spell words like stomach and special.
 
I could play tag all day and always be "it."
 
Jay Spievack, who's fourteen feet tall, could want to fight me.
My mom and dad--like Ted's--could want a divorce.
Miss Brearly could ask me a question about Afghanistan.
 
Somebody maybe could make me ride a horse.
My mother could maybe decide that I needed more liver.
My dad could decide that I needed less TV.
Miss Brearly could say that I have to write script and stop printing.
 
Chris could decide to stop being friends with me.
 
The world could maybe come to an end on next Tuesday.
The ceiling could maybe come crashing on my head.
I maybe could run out of things for me to worry about.
And then I'd have to do my homework instead.
 
From If I Were In Charge Of The World and other worries by Judith Viorst
 
EXTENSION:
Pior to the class meeting, create your own poem of worries like Viorst's.  Share your poem with the class then have your students create their own original poem of worries with an underlying structure like Viorst's.  Discuss the structure of the poem with the class to be sure they realize how to create one themselves. 
 
 
DOUGLAS FLORIAN
 
INTRODUCTION:
With an elementary class, lead the class in a discussion of traditions that families have during Thanksgiving such as the types of food eaten, kinds of decorations used, and family activities.  Then ask students to share what they are thankful for.  Have students list a few things they are thankful for on a sheet of paper.  Read the following poem by Florian.
 
Thanksgiving
by Douglas Florian
 
Thanks for turkey.
Thanks for stuffin'.
Thanks for yams
And thanks for muffin.
Thanks for ease
And easy living.
Thanks for giving us
Thanks giving.
 
From Autumblings by Douglas Florian
 
EXTENSION:
Have students write their own Thanksgiving poem which is to include at least 3 things they are thankful for and the word "thanks" or "Thanksgiving" at least one or more times.
 
 
LEE BENNETT HOPKINS
 
INTRODUCTION:
Ask the class if anyone has ever been to a museum.  Ask the class what types of things they have seen in a museum or what types of things they think would be in a museum.   Read the Hopkins poem Behind the Museum Door.
 
Behind the Museum Door
by Lee Bennett Hopkins
 
What's behind the museum door?
 
Ancient necklaces,
African art,
Armor of knights,
A peasant cart;
 
Pioneer wagons,
Vintage cars,
A planetarium
 
                   ceilinged
 
                   with stars
 
Priceless old coins,
A king's golden throne,
Mummies in linen,
 
And
 
A dinosaur bone.
 
From Good Rhymes, Good Times by Lee Bennett Hopkins
 
EXTENSION:
Ask students if they were surprised by any of the things Hopkins included in his museum poem.  Have the students select another place they can write a similar type of poem about.  They can pick a place like a movie theater, a restaurant, the Texas Motor Speedway, a church, a library etc... Have the students examine the structure of the Hopkins poem, and then create their own "place poem" about a place of their own choosing.
 
 
POETRY BOOK REVIEW
 
Autumblings by Douglas Florian
 
Autumblings is a celebration of all things Autumn in poetry.  It is a children's poetry collection of 48 poems with accompanying paintings by Florian.  Poems cover subjects such as apple picking, hibernation, the wind, the weather, Thanksgiving, leaves, the colors of autumn, pumpkins, the birds of autumn, and many other subjects.  Most poems are rather concise in length and are short enough to fit on one page.  The book is smaller than a standard picture book in size and should be easy for a child to manage.  Glowing fall colors such as oranges, yellows and browns are the predominant colors that make up the images which were created with watercolor and colored pencils.  The pictures look as though they were drawn by children.   
 
 
Bibliography
Click on the bibliography link at the top of the screen for a complete bibliography of works used on this site.

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