Tag Archives: poetry

Top Ten Tuesday! Top 10 Nonfiction Poetry Collections

 

top 10

In honour of National Poetry Month, I have decided to do a TOP 10 post that features poetry, in particular, nonfiction poetry!  Poetry can bring science to life for young children and any one of these books can be linked up to a unit you are studying.  From Space, to Bees, to the Arctic and the Savannah, here is my collection of favorite poetry books that combine fascinating facts, delightful language and gorgeous illustrations.

  1. Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold Joyce Sidman

If you have never read a Joyce Sidman book, you have been missing out!   In my opinion she is the true Queen of Nonfiction Poetry so I have included two of her books on this list.  Winter Bees provides insight and information on how plants and animals cope with the cold, winter months told through lyrical poetry and gorgeous lino-cut illustrations.

2. Song of the Water Boatman and other Pond Poems Joyce Sidman

From algae to a nymph to a frog to a turtle,  Joyce Sidman examines the living things in and around a pond through poetry.  This would be a perfect book to compliment a unit of study on ponds or habitats.

3. Comets, Stars, the Moon and Mars Douglas Florian

This collection of whimsical, factual poetry about astronomy is by my #1 information poet – Douglas Florian.   The book includes poems about each planet, as well as the moon, the sun, black holes, constellations, and other space topics.  Includes die-cut pages and a glossary of space terms, making this a perfect anchor book for your study of space and planets.

4. Out of This World:  Poems and Facts about Space – Amy E. Sklansky

Love the variety of different poetic forms, combined with fascinating space facts and gorgeous illustrations.  A perfect addition to your Space book collection and great anchor to start your study of space!

5. Un-BEE-lievables – Douglas Florian

In fourteen funny, fact-filled poems about honeybees, Douglas Florian (major poet crush on this man!) explores the fascinating and often unexpected wonders of these insects’ lifestyles, families, communities and their importance on our ecosystems.  Delightful paintings that will inspire some bee-autiful paintings from your students!

6. Seeds, Bees, Butterflies and More! Poems for Two VoicesCarole Gerber

Kids will have a blast performing these child-friendly poems.  These funny, rhyming poems offer a close-up view of the plant and insect worlds, with an amazing amount of information about them. The art is bright, colorful and fabulous!  A great book for teaching and performing!

7. A Strange Place to Call Home – the World’s Most Dangerous Habitats and the Animals that Call Them Home – Marilyn Singer

Marilyn Singer’s fascinating poems, accompanied by Ed Young’s collage illustrations, feature unusual creatures whose adaptations allow them to live in challenging and often unappealing habitats.  There are helpful end notes which provide more information about each animal. I love how Singer uses a variety of poetic forms from free verse to haiku and sonnets (all defined at the back of the book).

8. When the Sun Shines on Antarctica and Other Poems about the Frozen ContinentIrene Latham

Brand new collection with poems about Antarctic life in the summer, including poems about plants, animals and landscape of this frigid climate.  Each page is accompanied by a paragraph of facts and an illustration that captures the frozen landscape.

9. Polar Bear, Arctic Hare: Poems of the Frozen North – Eileen Spinelli

Eileen Spinelli’s delightful collection of factual poems  about the Arctic can serve as an anchor for a more in-depth study of Arctic Animals (my favorite topic for nonfiction research writing!)  This collection is perfect for reading aloud to and with early primary students.  Spinelli’s playful writing style will tickle your tongue!    In the back of the book is a helpful list of Arctic facts about each animal.

10.  Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Watering Hole – Irene Latham

This collection of creative poems introduces a variety of grassland creatures who frequent this life-sustaining water source over the course of one day.  An accurate and vivid account of survival on the Savannah that  also includes a brief description of each animal on each double page spread.  Entertaining and fascinating!  I love the folk-art illustrations.

11. Silver Seeds – Paul Paolilli

While some may think acrostic poetry is easy to write, if done correctly, each new line is not necessarily a new sentence or word.  This collection of acrostic poems celebrating nature is my “go to” anchor book for teaching students how to write acrostic poems properly.  Simple, but profound poems and gorgeous illustrations.

MOON
Marvelous melon, whole,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Or sliced,
Offering sweet flavor to the
Night.

12. Now You See Them, Now You Don’t: Poems About Creatures That Hide – David L. Harrison

This amazing book features nineteen different creatures organized into five categories, each poem highlights interesting facts about the behavior and habitat of a sea creature, reptile, amphibian, mammal, insect or bird. Laroche’s fascinating cut-paper illustrations bring the habitats to life.  A perfect book for introducing animal classification and adaptation to environment.

Thanks for stopping by!  Which book or books caught your eye?

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Art, New Books, Poetry, Science, Social Studies, Top 10 Tuesday

Christmas Metaphors

Christmas Metaphors

Have you ever taught metaphors to 10 and 11 year olds?  How did it go?  Honestly.  Did they get it or did they just fake it well enough to make you think they got it?  Did you just give up halfway through because even though you had explained that a metaphor is not the same thing as a simile – they kept writing “like” or “as” anyway?

To teach or not to teach metaphors?  That is the question I have been asking myself.  With only two weeks to go before the Christmas break, I was hesitant to introduce this rather challenging poetic devise to the wonderful grade five class I have been teaching poetry to this term.  This clever group had successfully demonstrated their understanding of the other techniques I had introduced them to over the last 3 months (similes personification, onomatopoeia  and alliteration) and had been using them frequently in their weekly poems.  But I admit that in the past, teaching metaphors had proved to be challenging, frustrating and overall disappointing.  Yesterday, however,  I collected their poems in which they were to use metaphors.  WOW!  I was amazed at how well they did!  Needless to say, these talented young writers have answered my question:  YES – you should teach metaphors!

Here’s the lesson and some amazing poems written by grade 5’s:

I explained the concept of metaphor and showed them a few examples.   Ralph Fletcher has written some great poems that use metaphors:  “Pinball” – a pinball machine as a metaphor for high school; Poetry – as a metaphor for a sugar-crazed teenager; “Earthhead” – a globe as a metaphor for a baby’s head.   I read these poems from his book A Writing Kind of Day and we discussed the metaphors.

After a quick Google search the night before the lesson, I had found some other examples of metaphors.  These were written by students who had used metaphors in their poems about their families. One had used the metaphor of a medicine chest, the other of the 4th of July.   https://www.teachervision.com/poetry/literary-techniques/5453.html  This gave me the idea of having the students writing poems about their families, using metaphors about Christmas.

Here’s how the lesson went:

  • We read samples of poems and I asked the students what they noticed.  We discussed how the writer connected each family member with an object with whom they shared common qualities.
  • We then brainstormed symbols of Christmas:  tree, decorations, candy cane, star, presents, wrapping paper, tape, candle, stocking, angel, etc.
  • We talked about the “characteristics” of each object:  ie:  Tree – strong, steady, straight; candy cane – sweet, sticky, minty; star – bright, shiny.
  • Each student then listed the members of their family down one side of a paper, including themselves.   (I modeled using my family)  Then I asked them to try match up each person with a Christmas object that best fits their personality or character.  Beside each family member, they listed the object.
  • Finally, they had to explain WHY or what the person and object had in common.

Some example we did together (these came from the kids – not me!)

                   Sister – ornament  – beautiful, delicate but breaks easily

                   Dad – tree – strong and steady and smells good

                  baby brother – gingerbread man – sweet but runs away a lot  (this one made me laugh!)

The students thought of some amazing “metaphor matches”!  I was SO impressed with their final poems – and I would definitely use this lesson again as a way to introduce metaphors.    If any of your students do not celebrate Christmas, you could use the same lesson, but use symbols of New Year’s or any other cultural celebration.

WP_002039

WP_002042

                                 My favorite line from Rudra’s poem:  My sister is the star which finishes the job. 

WP_002044

                   My favorite line from Reuben’s poem:  And my grandma is the tape never letting go of the family.

                                                                            WP_002040

WP_002038

My Family is Christmas by Rhea

My Dad is Santa

He is strong and does all he can to make me smile.

My mom is a present

Sometimes not what you want but you have to be thankful for a while.

My sister is a reindeer

Annoying but guides the way for others.

And I am the Christmas Star – I know I am small

But I keep our family together.  

What are your experiences and ideas for teaching metaphor to younger students?

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Lesson Ideas, Poetry, Writing Anchors

Summer Reading – Day 20! – Nonfiction Wednesday

I have am happy to be participating my first Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday post!  (I hope I am not breaking any rules if I focus on Nonfiction Poetry) I was first introduced to Marilyn Singer in a Children’s Literature course I was taking at university.  I remember the Professor, Ron Jobe, sharing a new poetry book by Marilyn Singer called “Turtle in July” (published in 1989 – Yikes!  Am I that old?).  He read aloud the title poem and I was fascinated by how she was able to so effortlessly weave factual information into a simple poem. I’ve been a fan of hers ever since.

3585579[1]

Over the last 2 decades, she has written over 30 poetry books (much of which is based on nature), picture books, novels and nonfiction books.  She gained much attention and earned several awards  in 2010 for her remarkable and unique writing of Fairy Tales Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse.  If you have never read this – it is an incredibly clever collections of poems that can be read both forwards and backwards.  Amazing!  Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems, the follow up, was released this past February.

51dyv6Wph6L._SL500_AA300_[1]                 7493149[1]

Now, on to her Nonfiction books…..I am drawn to her poetry collections and nonfiction books that center around nature and animals.  I’m particularly fond of her poetry books Fireflies at Midnight and The Company Of Crows where she writes poems in the voices of different animals (and birds).   I have used both books as anchors in both reading and writing lessons.  In reading, we practice inferring information about the animals from the poems.  In writing,  I have used them as models for writing with voice.  Both books have inspired amazing animal poetry in my classroom over the years.    Students choose an animal, research its habits and behavior, then write a poem in first person, trying to capture both the “voice” and personality of the animal.

9482[2]           The Company of Crows: A Book of Poems

I recently came across her latest poetry collection called A Strange Place to Call Home (published in 2012) In it, she writes poems about the most dangerous habitats on earth and the animals who live there.  The book is illustrated by Caldecott winner and honor recipient Ed Young.  His illustrations are gorgeous and he uses a torn paper  collage style similar to Steve Jenkins.  Singer uses many different poetic forms in the book, including haiku and sonnets,  as she captures 14 relatively unknown creatures and their unusual homes.  (There is information on each creature included at the back of the book)   Through her unique poetic style, Singer is able to capture so many interesting facts, often through sparse text.  Students will be fascinated to learn about these unusual creatures and I could see how this could be used as an excellent “launch” into a research project.     The book could also be a great way to launch a Science Unit on Extreme Environments or how animals adapt to their environment.

books[1]

A Strange Place to Call Home

Where it’s dark                                                                                                              Where it’s deep                                                                                                            Where’s it’s stormy                                                                                                       Where it’s steep                                                                                                               Where the rain rarely falls                                                                                                                                      or the water always races                                                                                     They survive                                                                                                                   strive to thrive                                                                                                                  in a world of risky places

– Marilyn Singer

2 Comments

Filed under Infer, New Books, Nonfiction, Poetry