Monthly Archives: April 2018

Afternoon Walk: Day 24

I’m a pretty faithful beach walker, often logging miles several days a week out on the shore.  Today, I decided to take an urban walk, exploring a path not far from home.  The first half mile was a pretty steep climb–my device registered it as 19 floors!  I crossed a bridge and headed off a dirt pathway were I had views of the city below.

On my return trip I got the downhill portion of the walk and felt my heart in my throat when I nearly stepped on a snake!  But it did inspire today’s poem.

skinny snake

Skinny Snake


Late afternoon

as the sun heads west

is the perfect time

for a walk.


The birds chatted


with squirrels and lizards,

the whitewashed fence

a perfect porch.


Drought-stricken trees

strick a pose against

the baby blue April sky.


My feet carried me

across the miles

the dirt, the gravel, the leaves

back to the asphalt

where I crossed paths

with skinny snake,

also walking.


We froze

in our tracks

scared still

by the sight of the other

until the breeze whispered

and we parted ways.


Douillard 2018

bird on a fence

dead tree

And a few poems about poetry written by my students.  It’s such fun to watch their poetry skills grow over the course of the month!

Poetry is Many Things


Poetry is a magical treasure of words

in many different forms

hidden away in a jungle
where the birds sing their songs of inspiration

warming the spark in you that makes
you look at the poems in the clear diamonds on leaves.



I love when a line in a poem catches me by surprise…

Poetry Is

Poetry is ideas floating onto a blank piece of paper

and rivers of words rush onto a page.

Powerful words stick out

like a Ferris wheel at the crowded fair.

Onomatopoeia brings poems to life

and similes crash like waves in the ocean.

After all the commotion

a poem is born.


And when you can feel emotion…

Poetry Is

Poetry is like the last rays of sun on a sunset

it leaves with beauty and sadness at the same time

poetry is like a song that sings forever

and when you forget

it will always whisper back.


And one more…

Poetry is…

Poetry flows in my mind like the ocean

Softy and gentle like a breeze

Fragrant like a rose

paints a picture in my mind

When I hear poetry it sounds like nature

When I start a poem it tastes ripe and fresh

Poetry is a feeling in your heart


Enjoy your walk through some poetry today!





Poetry Is: Day 23

Mondays are odd for me…I barely have time with my students as they rush off to their “specials,” leaving me with some precious planning time but also feeling like I have to cram all that I want and need to do into the remaining and minuscule time segments.

Today I read my students Daniel Finds a Poem by  Micha Archer as a way to inspire their poetry as we approach our last 8 days of the 30 day challenge.  In the book, Daniel asks all the animals in the park what poetry is…and they each share an idea which he then combines to create his own poem.  This beautiful book is deceptively simple, yet the language is both approachable and inspiring.  I’ve invited my students to create their own “poetry is” poems–reminding them to use the poetic techniques we brainstormed in class.  Hopefully I’ll have a few to share with you later this week!

We also spent some time in the garden — looking for the letters of the alphabet to photograph. I randomly assigned each student a letter and then we headed off with our iPads to capture those letters in photos to create a “bank” of letters for some upcoming projects.  My students didn’t disappoint.  They not only found all 26 letters, they helped out when someone was having a hard time with their assigned letter.  “S” was hard, “V” was easy.  Now to figure out how to manipulate our letters digitally to spell some words and create some wordy images!  (Any ideas are welcome here!)

My students also inspired my “Poetry Is” poem for today.

Poetry Is…


Children’s laughter

bubbling up

and popping in the sun-warmed garden air


Skies as blue

as a lizard’s back

as  a jay’s feather

as the blueberries on my morning yogurt


a garden

tilled by the smallest hands

with the largest hearts

growing knowledge

and awareness of nature’s abundance


paying attention

and noticing

all the world has to offer


Douillard 2018

GArden V

And a poem about a favorite topic in the classroom–especially for this student!

People Play Baseball

For a long time people played baseball.
Making contact with the baseball. Single doubles triples and there’s even HOME RUNS!
They are the best!
The ball sails throughout the air over the fence.
Night day people play.


Are you ready to try a “Poetry Is” poem?  Be sure to share yours in the comments!

Earth Day Green: Day 22

I spent a beautiful spring morning walking a low-tide beach…the perfect way to celebrate Earth Day.  I watched pelicans swoop and soar, children squeal and run, surfers wait and balance, the waves ebb and flow.  The salty air and sun on my shoulders are the perfect antidote for those worries that creep in and invade the mind as work piles up and time feels short.

Thinking about poetry this afternoon I found myself reflecting on Earth Day and the importance of taking care of this wondrous planet where we live.  I remembered my wonder during spring break as I experienced the greens of Oregon; greens that are not my everyday experience here in San Diego.  I had spent a day listing all the green words I could come up with as we traveled from the coast of Oregon to the mountains.  Although I’m not sure this is an actual poem, I took time today to figure out a way to categorized those greens…and there are a lot of them!  It certainly is not an exhaustive list…I’m interested to know what green words you, kind reader, might add to my list, as well as what categories I have not yet considered.  So here it is…a list poem of sorts.

Categories of Green

Tree Green







Animal Green







Praying Mantis

Forest Green









Fruit and Vegetable Green



Granny Smith







Ocean Green

Sea foam





Farm Green







Gem Green







Color Green







Irish Green





Symbol Green

Traffic Light






Douillard 2018

Oregon green

And an Earth Day themed student poem:

Things to do if You Are a Leaf



lay back, relax,

feel the rays of light feed veins

when you fall, twirl like a ballerina

as light as a feather

when you turn brown and curl up

then crunch, you’re pieces.



I’m looking forward to learning more greens and green categories…feel free to leave your ideas in the comments!  Happy Earth Day!

At Not Quite Sunset: Day 21

After a long and productive day spent with my local writing project colleagues, Geoff and I set off for a quick dinner at a local dive.  Afterwards, I talked him into a stop by the beach–even though it was not quite sunset and we were not willing to wait to experience sunset.  (And to be honest, it was a bit grey so the certainty of even being able to see the sunset was in question)

But it didn’t stop me from wandering down the path from the cliff to the shore and snapping some pictures as I breathed in some fresh sea air and stretched out those legs that sat too much today.

not quite sunset

At Not Quite Sunset


At not quite sunset

when the clouds gather like cotton candy

blushing pink before the sun dips low

surfers rush

down the narrow cliffside path

in the ocean, they bob and wait for the perfect curl

to launch them toward shore

and I wander, seeking treasures through my lens

finding inspiration in the gray

in the blue, as the waves breathe in and out

at not quite sunset.


Douillard 2018

It looks like Max was also inspired by the ocean.  Here’s his poem:


Let the sunbeam shower on your back
as you fly like a bird with the flow of dolphins
finally, you lay down on the sand to rest for tomorrow
as you hear the waves screaming to the shore.


Where do you find inspiration?

Things to Do: Day 20

You might remember that I bought the book, Things to Do, when I was at Powell’s in Portland last week.  (See this link for the post I wrote then)  Today I was feeling like my students needed some poetic inspiration…and pulled out the book to read to them.  They were immediately enamored, many of them remembering the poem by the same author, Things to Do if You’re a Pencil, that we read last year.  We noted the poetic techniques used in each poem and then set out to write our own.  As I started hearing the students’ poems, those tingles started running down my spine!

Here’s a sampling, starting with Lauryn’s poem about dolphins.

Things To Do If You Are A Dolphin


Play around,

swim, jump,

watch surfboards float over the water like clouds in a race,

use echolocation to have conversations,

be silly, be fun,

and soar out of the water like a bird gliding into different worlds,
pretend to be a shark

and put your fin up so it sticks out of the crystal clear water,

perform a parade at the end of the day

when the sunset leans over the water

admiring itself

until it shines bright

onto the dolphins jumping
in the air at the same time


Here’s Sadie’s about an idea.

Things to do if You’re an Idea

Tiptoe into someone’s mind, hatch like a bird in an egg.

Start to grow big and lively, like the moon does in the darkest night.

Break free from your hidden cage, make an impact on the world.


And who can resist the poem from our resident Hamilton-obsessed student! (Think: the musical)

Things to do if you are Hamilton
Stand out from a crowd
fight for what is right
never forget what you are or who you are

do the things that you believe


My own poem was also inspired by the reading of the book–along with a photo I took of some bikes when I was UCSD yesterday.


Things to do if You are a Bike


Balance on two wheels

as feet pump

the pedals

Let air rush past

as you glide

downtime steep hillside

Obey traffic rules

without question

And when you are done

Rest in a rack or in a stack

with your bicycle brethren


Douillard 2018

We invite you to try out a “things to do” poem…feel free to share yours in the comments!

Sweet Peas: Day 19

I found myself searching for the flowers without knowing they were there.  The distinctive smell of sweet peas wafted through the office, and even as I headed out the door, I had stop to both smell them and take a photo.  I’m wondering if they came from our school garden.

sweet peas

Is it Summer Yet?


I could smell them

before I could see them

fragrance afloat

drifting down the hallways of my mind

a time machine of smells

taking me back

to those warm carefree


backyard days

when the smell of sweet peas

spring’s perfume


that summer is near


Douillard 2018

Some of my students have gotten quite playful in their poetic compositions–both created as found poems.  The first about dogs…

Tail Wagging Fun

Puppies, dogs all
All chasing their tails
Wagging tails this is
Cutie the cure for boredom
Companion circle time!


and the second about dance.



Musical instruments

An art form

Music in the air

The grace, strength, and poise of the dancers

The art form


Balance, flexibility, posture




Day 19 is a perfect day to play around with topics and ideas for your poetry.  What will you write today?