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Just One More Poetry Resource (Okay, two)

Posted on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 in poetry

Let me tell you about one more poetry resource, I just picked it up from the library last night.

After flipping through it, I found myself wondering why it’s not on all of the tables at the curriculum sales (I found the title during a blitz of website perusal, maybe on my eleventh link from the first poetry site I tried).  With so much focus on nature study in the homeschool community, this book on writing poetry from nature can be incorporated easily into nature notebooks and field trips.

A Crow Doesn’t Need a Shadow: A Guide to Writing Poetry from Nature by Lorraine Ferra couldn’t be a better fit for our current study.  We’re just starting a six week study on nature, poetry, and art, focusing on book illustrators Barbara Cooney and Beatrix Potter, reading about the life of John Muir and poet Pablo Neruda, and reading and writing some outdoor poetry.

First of all I like the layout.  It’s easy to flip through the projects, with examples of each poetic assignment included in each section (written by children age 7-13), and even the illustrations make me feel like getting in touch with my natural side.

Some books are full of ideas but are hard to translate into workable assignments, but these don’t take any translating at all.  I might match them up with a specific book or nature activity for the week, but the ideas themselves are straightforward.

I expect my 9 and 11 year old to understand these assignments easily, and I imagine I’ll feel compelled to write along side them.

Excerpt from the book:

To write a different kind of poem about weather, start by making a list of action words (verbs) that you usually associate with people.  (Several actions verbs are listed as examples like swallows, carves, gossips, and yawns.) Make a second list of verbs you commonly associate with animals.  Words such as gallops, slithers, and perches.

Decide upon some aspect of weather for your subject; then choose two or three verbs from each of your lists to start your poem.  For example, if you subject is fog you might begin by describing how fog erases objects you ordinarily see or by telling where fog perches or grazes.

Example of using uncommon verbs by Tyler, age 8


Wind nibbles
on the walls
of the buildings.
When it hunts in the forest,
it rubs its chin
on the trees
and wipes its mouth
on their leaves.

(Assignment and poem excerpted from A Crow Doesn’t Need A Shadow)

The assignments in this book encourage what we’ve already begun with nature study-paying attention to the senses while outside, knowing specific names for trees and flowers to make the images in your writing strong, expressing how the sun’s warmth and the peace by the pond make you feel.

Check it out.

Another book that came home with from the library is Emily by Michael Bedard and illustrated by Barbara Cooney.  A picture book peek into the life of Emily Dickinson.

With more books coming in the from the library every day, expect to hear about more treasures soon.

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