Mar 28, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY: Gearing Up for 2014 National Poetry Month

Thanks to Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for hosting Poetry Friday today!
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Tuesday, April 1st is the kickoff of this year’s National Poetry Month. Founded in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month celebrates the importance of poetry in our country. Schools, libraries, book sellers, publishers, poets, and readers all join in the fun with programs and events celebrated each year during the month of April.

This year's National Poetry Month Poster, from the Academy of American Poets.
Last year, I led a fun poetry activity in my boys’ classrooms on National Poem in Your Pocket day. (For a brief post about this, click here.) This year, I am working on a fun activity that will explore many different kinds of poetry, and I have some other ideas up my sleeve, as well.

For some great ideas on how to celebrate National Poetry Month, check out these links:

The Academy of American Poets



Reading Rockets


And here are two fellow bloggers who have a great list of links, as well:

Catherine at Reading to the Core
Karen at Teacher. Reader. Mom.

These are just a few of the many great resources out there! So how are YOU going to celebrate this year’s National Poetry Month?

I'm celebrating today because this is my 100th post! Happy Writing!   

Mar 17, 2014

YOUNG READER REVIEW: Picture Books and Mo Willems

My guest today is Tay, a spunky kindergartner with a boatload of imagination. This girl is going to go far in life, I just know it! I hope you enjoy her interview—she has some wonderful answers to my questions!
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Hi Tay! I am so excited that you are my guest today! Can you tell everyone a bit about yourself?

I am 5 and three-quarters years old and a kindergartener in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Some of my favorite things include riding horses, riding my bike, playing tag and hide and seek, reading, and going to the park.

All fun stuff, Tay! I know that you loved preschool and are really enjoying kindergarten. Now that you’ve been in kindergarten almost an entire year, what is your favorite thing about elementary school so far? 

I like recess and lunch and listening center and kitchen, which is one of my centers.

Do you have a favorite subject at school?

What’s a subject? Oh, I like reading and I guess it would also be working at Miss Newlin’s table.

I’m so glad that you love to read—that was always my favorite subject in school, too! What is your very favorite book these days?

Why is There a Monster in My Classroom? is probably my favorite. My Daddy wrote it. I like it best because there are all types of “creatures” that come into the classroom. It’s about a girl who has a lot of “pets” that follow her to school, and they get to sit in her class.
I also like No Such Thing. In this book, there is a kid and a monster and two moms (one for each of them). The Moms don’t believe that the other one exists. In the end, the monster climbs in the bed and the boy crawls under the bed and they both call out, “Mommy, come quick!”

And I like the one with the goose and the fox – That is Not a Good Idea!, by Mo Willems. 

That looks like a great book! What other kinds of books do you like to read?

Elephant and Piggie books.

So you are a Mo Willems fan! If you could read a story about anything in the world, what would it be about?

About a horse and a bunny.

What do you think it is important for authors to know about the kids who read their books?

Make sure you put things that we like in your books.  And to know which books we like to read at night.

Wonderful advice, Tay! And I have to ask—what would you like to be when you grow up?

That’s easy – a horse trainer. And a singer.

Now that sounds like a fun work combination!☺Thanks again for joining us today, Tay!

Mar 14, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY: Poems about Ireland

Thanks to Kara at Rogue Anthropologist for hosting Poetry Friday today!
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Last May, my husband and I visited Ireland. It was a fun week of road trips, castle ruins, music-filled pubs, a bit of “bog bouncing” (fun!), and lots of vegetable soup with brown bread (I ate this every single day at lunch).

Two pubs, Durty Nelly's and Sean's Bar, that claim to be the "oldest in Ireland."
Driving through the countryside (well, riding—my husband drove the car, thank goodness!) I was struck over and over again by the sight of castle ruins. Beautiful now, the fact remains that they are reminders of Ireland’s turbulent history. Viewed through the lens of time, however, these structures are truly something to see.
Ross Castle in County Kerry.
Bunratty Castle in County Clare.
A view from the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary. The Rock of Cashel was the ancient seat of the High Kings of Munster. In the 5th century AD, St. Patrick is said to have orchestrated the conversion of King Aenghus to Christianity on this site (the ruin below is Hoare Abbey).

I also learned quite a bit more about Irish history during our trip, and especially enjoyed visiting Croagh Patrick in County Mayo, where St. Patrick fasted and prayed during the 40 days of lent in the 5th century AD. Concerned for the souls of the Irish people, he climbed the mountain and prayed for their salvation, and for God’s mercy and guidance. Every year, thousands of pilgrims repeat this journey in his memory.

Croagh Patrick

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day this Monday, I thought I’d share a few of the poems I’ve written during my reflections on this trip. They are not all “Leprechauns and sunshine,” though—it is impossible to visit Ireland without acknowledging the grief once experienced by its people. One of the sights that impacted me the most was the Famine Ship, located near Croagh Patrick. After driving through the rugged countryside where many hungry people once died (pointlessly and cruelly), we came to the memorial and I just stood there, unable to say a word. The memorial reminds everyone who sees it of the massive loss of life during the famine, both on Irish soil and on these small, poorly-made "famine ships" sailing west (notice the skeletons stretching over the deck).

Famine Ship

Words cannot convey
The beauty, pain, and horror
Captured in one look.

The visits to church sites were also especially moving and unbelievably beautiful.

Ancient Windows

Ancient windows between past and present;
Symbols of Faith
That stand the test of time.
Walls may crumble,
Stones may tumble,
But these Holy remains
Still sing
Hymns of praise.   
And finally, a little bit of limerick fun:

No Helpless Maid

There was a young maid in the tower,
Who sat up there hour after hour.
When no Prince came to save her
She used what God gave her,
And climbed back down, shouting “Girl Power!”
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and Happy Writing!

Mar 7, 2014


Thanks so much to Margaret at Reflections on the Teche 
for hosting this week's Poetry Friday Roundup!
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For Poetry Friday today, I thought I’d revisit one of my favorite poetic formats, math poems. Math poetry combines creative writing with mathematical equations to create fun poems that appeal to a wide audience. (I have seen kids who say they “hate” writing poetry become very excited about writing math poems!)

A math poem follows the format of a mathematical equation. This can be a simple equation or it can be much more complicated. (For more information about math poems, read this post and this post.) Below I’ve written a few examples, ranging from simple to a little more complicated:

peanut butter + jelly + bread = PBJ sandwich               

                                                                   gentle rain       
                                                                 + warm bed
                                                        good night's sleep
2(boy) + pjs + movie = family fun night 
And here’s one for those of you who are laboring away at revisions:
∞(draft) + ∞(critique + edit) + editorial genius + revision(however many it takes) + (critique from very tolerant critique partner + edit) = final manuscript
*Special shout out to my very tolerant critique partner!*

If you’d like to try your own math poem, I’d love to see it in the comments! Happy Writing!  
* * * Be sure to check out all of the wonderful math poems in the comments section!* * *