July 21, 2011

Color Poems Word Choice & Fun!

Hailstones and Halibut Bones & Color Poems by Karen Grunder

That old Hailstones and Halibut Bones book motivated me to develop
a lesson for color poems!

We brainstormed ideas for one color (red) as a class, sense by sense.

The students would do it individually first on their own paper,
then we would share and record all ideas on chart paper.

The next day we picked the ideas for each sense we thought
were the strongest, and worked on putting a poem together
and making each image even more powerful. We balanced
the amount of sense images (didn't want to overload on the visual).
Hearing and feeling (emotion) were frequently the challenging
ones for 10 year olds, but sometimes ended up being very
effective parts of their poems when they later wrote their own.
"Showing, not telling" was a big part of this lesson. Finally,
the children got the chance to choose their own color, and
brainstormed their own ideas. Lots of excitement!

Yellow is....
the smile in my mom's eyes whenever she looks at me
the first notes of the ice cream song - "Run! Find the truck!"
huge fields of daffodils rippling like waves as each gust hits…

These poems were little treasures. The majority of children
in the class got their poems published in a poetry book through
a contest I entered. (Not a thing I regularly do, but someone
handed me the poetry contest sheet just as we were doing the activity).

This is an easy and effective way to get children to play with words
to paint pictures and evoke emotions. A lot of talk went into the
most effective way of sequencing ideas. Mood, balance, dynamics,
and the importance of leaving the reader with a strong, final
image/thought also came up. Such fun! So much covered in one
much enjoyed writing activity!

This year I'd like to get them to take digital pictures or use the web,
and create a collage of any images or emotions from their poems
that could be caught with a camera. I would tell them this after
they finished their poems, though. I wouldn't want their inspirations
to be restricted by practicality.

Karen Grunder
(Summer 2008: Teaching and Assessing Writing with the 6-Traits)

Lesson Extension from Read Write Think:
Color Poems—Using the Five Senses to Guide Prewriting

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