How to Be a First Grade Poet: NPM22 Day 19

National Poetry Month is such a perfect excuse to focus classroom reading and writing on poetry. For the last several years I’ve challenged my students to write a poem a day–for every day in the month of April. This year, with first graders and a month that began with Spring Break, I decided to have students write a poem each day they are with me in the classroom.

We warmed up at the end of March with a plunge into defining poetry in poetical terms, creating a collaborative Poetry Is poem as well as individual pieces. (I wrote about that process here.) We’ve explored the schoolyard through our senses and iPad cameras, learning to pay attention. We’ve read books and studied poems and written and written and written.

Yesterday we read The Keeper of Wild Words by Brooke Smith and then worked together on a list of wild words that we love. Students added words like waterfall, dragonfly, moonlight, turtle, and dolphin. Words swirled through the classroom as we borrowed from each other, built on ideas from each other, and delighted in the feel of words in our mouth.

Today we built poetry dice. Using a generic fold-a-cube pattern on cardstock, students cut out a flattened cube, wrote their favorite 12 wild words (they made 2 dice), and then folded and taped their finished cubes together. Then came the best part–playing with words and poetry. They rolled their dice, recording the 6 words they rolled in their notebooks. Then they considered those words, how they related (or didn’t) to each other, and wrote poetry. As a teacher of writing, there is nothing more satisfying than watching students transform into confident poets, easily playing with words, experimenting with form and ideas, and bursting to share their poems with me and their classmates.

Here’s a small sampling of poems that emerged from the roll of our student-created poetry dice:

A wolf found a hollow tree.

the wolves sleep at daytime with

very big waves.

A small clown sells big old lemons.

Relax

In spring laying on a Hawaii beach,

watching a cloud float by like

a koala climbing a tree or a

dolphin jumping out of the

water and a coati walking

in a jungle.

Under the sea there was a fish

under a rock

There were a lot of other fish

in the green coral

and the coral was as green as a cactus

and it was as wiggly as a snake.

In the trees, in

middle of nowhere,

there’s a field of poppies.

In the sky there’s an

egret flying overhead

with yellow feet like sticks.

At the beach it’s time for the dolphins to play

in the waves.

And serendipitously, the #verselove prompt over at Ethical ELA was to write a “how to be” poem. Inspired by my students, I wrote mine about them.

How to Be a First Grade Poet

Immerse yourself

in words

from books

and poems

and songs

Open your eyes wide

look carefully

using ALL your senses

Feel the roly polys

under your fingers

Smell the cilantro

from the garden

Hear the hawk

calling as it

swoops above the classroom

Taste the sweet red

strawberries

taking root just

beyond the field

Dance with the words

as they

tumble and roll

calling you to pay attention

Write your world

your thoughts

your feelings

and read them

back with

love and pride

@kd0602

Phew! I can’t wait to see what poetry will emerge tomorrow!

2 thoughts on “How to Be a First Grade Poet: NPM22 Day 19

    1. kd0602 Post author

      I first decided to make the dice when we locked down back in 2020 and couldn’t use the metaphor dice in my classroom. And with first graders, words they can word and know are the best!

      Reply

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