Last week, I planned a winter sensory poetry lesson for out 2nd graders. I decided to start with a slideshow of winter photographs and then brainstorm words that they might use in their poems. My goal was to quickly set them off to write so they’d have plenty of time to compose their poems and share them.
This week, I executed my plan. As I presented the slideshow, the girls looked intently at the photographs, which were a mix of nature scenes and people and animals in the snow. After watching silently, they shared their ideas as I wrote them down. We were collecting sensory words from what we had seen in the photos. The words would act as a jumping off point to create images for their poems.
Before they began to write, they asked some questions. One girl asked if she could use rhymes and I nodded my head. She sparked an idea in my head because I don’t normally compose rhyming poems. Since I always write when the children write, I decided to challenge myself and write a rhyming sensory poem. I think it is an important part of the writing process for children to see adults writing alongside children. I made sure the girls were all actively thinking and writing, and then I sat down with my own ideas. One student came over to see what I was writing, but I quickly redirected her to her own writing and told her that I would share at the end of class.
As the children wrote, I circled the room looking at their poetry and making observations that I thought would nudge their writing further.
- That’s an interesting idea! You’re making an acrostic.
- Wow! You are using such strong verbs.
- Oh, you are including lots of sound words.
- Like each child, like each snowflake, each poem was different, exquisite in its creation. They took their experiences of snow and thought about how it looked, smelled, sounded, tasted, and felt. They thought hard, they experimented with words, and they formed meaning to share with others. This time to play is necessary and important for writers. It connected what they have been reading, to what they have experienced, to what they have learned about composing a poem.