Fox, Crow, and Mistletoe


Inspired by this Native Vermont image discovered while poking about on Pinterest, take inspiration from a food chain. Take inspiration from the “>”mathematical sign, from the chain of dominance in games such as rock-paper-scissors. Now, write a poem!




Rock Paper Scissors


Rock is greater than scissors,

Crushing is greater than slicing,

Stoic stone crumbles the sharp

Metal beaks of plastic cranes


Scissors are greater than paper,

Slicing is greater than folding,

Sharp metal beaks chew through

The crumpled skin of a dry lotus


Paper is greater than rock,

Folding is greater than crushing,

Long petals stretch their crumpled

Flesh over the face of stoic stone



Haiku of Thanksgiving

These pumpkins don't grow on vines but they have something in common with fortune cookies and piñatas. 

The Recipe:
1. Take a lunch-sized paper bag and fill the bottom with torn paper.
2. Before twisting closed, insert a handcrafted thanksgiving haiku
3. Twist the top of the bag tight.
4. Paint using pumpkin colors.
5. After the paint is dry, use ribbon and raffia to decoratively seal the stem. 

Display during the Thanksgiving season and tear open when it's time to celebrate gratitude.



Shark Shape Poems

To begin this project, go the the library and gather a collection of shark-picture-books. Read and enjoy at a safe distance. Sharks have sharp teeth.

Next, write a sentence or two about a shark incorporating some true facts and some not-so-true facts (after all, this is poetry). Be sure to include a simile (use the word "like" or "as" to compare the shark to something).

Sketch a few simple shark shapes, no details, just the outer contour. Choose a favorite to enlarge. Using light pencil draw the shark on a sheet of watercolor paper. Trace the light pencil drawing with black Sharpee.

Now write the shark sentences around the shark shape in, once again, very light pencil. When the sentence is spaced and spelled well, trace the words in black Sharpee.

Finally, the fun part… Mix up some deep-sea-watercolor blue and wash it right over the whole thing. Swish, swash, that's right! 


And when your shark poem is dry, beware of the blur that is caused when it swims right off the page as all good poems should.



It’s April… Read and Write Poetry!

Douglass Florian

A collection of five Douglas Florian illustrated thematic books of poetry.

Winner of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and recipient of an ALA Notable Children’s Book Award, Douglas Florian is the author and illustrator of many children’s books. He believes there is only one rule when it comes to poetry, that there are no rules. Douglas Florian gives credit to his father as his first art teacher, who taught him to love nature. He begins his poems with research of the real thing and then uses that information to create an imaginary poem. Douglas Florian lives in New York City with his wife and five children.


Love That Dog

What is a poem anyway?

I don't want to
because boys

don't write poetry.

Girls do.

Meet Jack, who tells his story with a little help from some paper, a pencil, his teacher, and a dog named Sky.

Although this guide includes many of the same elements as the other Level 1 guides, such as vocabulary and comprehension, the format is unique.Each week, your student will be encouraged and guided to write poems in the style of each poet being introduced in the story.



When Lonnie Collins Motion – Locomotion – was seven years old, his life changed forever.

Now he's eleven, and his life is about to change again. His teacher, Ms. Marcus, is showing him ways to put his jumbled feelings on paper. And suddenly, Lonnie has a whole new way to tell the world about his life, his friends, his little sister Lili, and even his foster mom, Miss Edna, who started out crabby but isn't so bad after all



Out of the Dust

Will the dust ever end?

This gripping story, written in sparse first-person, free-verse poems, is the compelling tale of Billie Jo's struggle to survive during the dust bowl years of the Depression. With stoic courage, she learns to cope with the loss of her mother and her grieving father's slow deterioration. But, there is hope at the end.


Exploring Poetry

Discover the poet within you!

This guide will help you discover the craft of writing poems and the delight of reading poetry. Over the course of seven weeks you will be introduced to some of the basic techniques used by poets, explore excellent poetry, and practice writing original poems. Each section is designed to be completed in about two, one hour sittings.



Metamorphosis for April


Butterflies are blossoming for the month of poetry!

These lovely creatures began with a lesson on the life cycle of this intricate insect and the book, A Blue Butterfly: A Claude Monet Story by Bijou Le Tord.

From there, with a bit of imagining, we were able to construct a singular sentence: Imagine you are a butterfly... What do you see? What do you sense? What do you wonder? What are you glad about?

Each sentence was thoughtfully considered. Each word matters in a tiny poem! I find that offering little phrases such as, "Butterfly, you…" or "My wings flutter…" or "I am flitting…" (and I'm sure you will come up with a few of your own…), help students overcome the "I Can't" road block. Thing is, they CAN! Most often the sentence starters disappear, over taken by the unique creativity of each writer's unique voice.


Next, we traced a simple butterfly shape and set it free from sheets of watercolor paper. We used only shades of blue—blue watercolor, blue colored pencil, blue pipe cleaners.

And the result is poetic. 



Write a Triangular Poem


On observation,

I see triangles so often in nature.

This is a mystery to me..

I wonder why?


Where do you see triangles?


Write a "triangle" poem. Your poem will begin with an idea in sentence form. Transforming it to a line-break poem is fun and easy. Here's how:

Line Breaks:

  • Create “snapshots”
  • Guide your readers through images
  • Help you meander an idea in rhythmic pieces

Write a sentence:

Green plums frolic from their box onto the stage swinging their stems in rhythm to a juicy tune.

Break your sentence into “snapshots”

Green plums frolic                   OR              Green plums

from their box                                              frolic

onto the stage                                             from the box

swinging their stems                                   onto the stage

in rhythm                                                     swinging

to a juicy tune.                                             their Stems

                                                                    in rhythm

                                                                    to a juicy tune


-Sara & Kim



Look See: Poem of Spongy Bone


Write a poem incorporating an interesting fact you’ve recently heard or read. It doesn’t necessarily have to be concerned with the physical sciences, although that is a great place to start. Andrea Gibson uses this device in her spoken-word poem, “Letter to A Playground Bully”, using lines such as “‘Cause it is a fact that our hearts stop for a millisecond every time we sneeze / And some people’s houses have too much dust” and “It is a fact that bumblebees have hair on their eyes / And humans, also, should comb through everything they see.”



This Isn’t Happiness

They say that the average person laughs 15 times per day… each time I hear that, I wonder whether that includes the people whose cats have just died or who just spilled coffee on their blouse… I wonder whether if it includes those people who don’t really laugh, but exhale through their noses in unusually quick succession with laughter in their eyes… and I wonder whether those good laughs, the kind that rips your stomach raw and warms your eyes with saltwater, count as two (or maybe fifteen) of the kind of laugh you measure out during irritatingly semi-casual events.


Now, visit our Pinterest to explore the poetic potential of spongy bone. Can you spring from here to your poem?



The Storyteller


Write a small story that describes the parts of an object or characteristics and memories of a person, in order to tell a story or reach a conclusion about a certain character, just as the fading parts of this rose imply a history of aging and weather without words—by showing, not telling. The House on Mango Street, Esperanza vicariously describes her family by describing her house.



Red Tennis Shoes


Every month, my mother tells me to throw out my red tennis shoes. 

They’re about two sizes too small (left over from tenth grade, because tenth grade was the best year, this liminal space where you weren’t the school baby and you didn’t have to worry about WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO DO FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS because God knows that’s too much responsibility, and all you need to worry about is whether you’ll get an A or a B, or whether you look better with a red or pink lip.)

One shoe’s lacings have been torn into frayed ribbons (because of my brother’s dog who mistook my shoes for his red ball, and I would say that it was stupid except for the fact that he often couldn’t recognize one thing from another, like my handwriting from my mom’s or fun from fulfilling, and yet you know she still loved both of them for their eyes)

They’re still covered in dirt stains (from the time we went camping in the Appalachians and I saw trees burst into photosynthetic flame for the first time, and the image of a ring of massive trees blossoming into red around a stagnant lake is still so sharp)

Every night I go to the trash to throw them out, I turning back to the house in the distance with its laughing yellow light, dangling their relieved weight from my hands.



Caterpillar of Birds


Write a vignette or poem that describes a concept or back-story by overtly describing a single object or event. Be the blind man who describes a snake while actually describing an elephant. Draw more inspiration from metaphor and synecdoche.

Think Caterpillar of Birds.

“The Fish” by Elizabeth Bishop overtly describes the catching of a fish, but subtly describes the concepts of choices, the natural world, mortality, and beauty.




“Dropping a Plate While Washing Dishes”


I nearly caught it—

the plunge of dish from hand

frame by frame was frozen

as the slippery china slid,

still fleeced with shining bubbles,

from my gloves, and the wild waltz

of slippery fingers grasping

still failed to stop

its spiral to floor: one frame remains

still rendering in loops—

my heartbeat expanded into

throbs of meaty bass

the second when the runaway

nearly seemed suspended

above the unforgiving tile,

I stood staring like a friend

left behind on a train platform,

even after the floor burst

into a kaleidoscope, shreds

of blue glass.




Write a Summer Sea Monster


As summer sizzles her sunshine, be inspired by a delightful collection of clever artists at our Write it…! board on Pinterest to write a poem or two. Write about some whimsical or fantastical creature from your imagination. Take inspiration from the creativity of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” and William Blake’s “The Tyger.”



Sea Monster


This one lived beneath the kitchen sink:

When I was a child, I could hear its

Subterranean gurgling from the pipeline guts

Of the basement. I could have sworn I saw

The tip of its fin peek out from the drain,

Or heard the snap of its jaws, with its many

Monstrously tiered teeth after turning the faucet off.