Fall Cleanup: Scary Mary’s Bewitching Plants: Poems and Pictures

Fall is one of my favourite seasons…colourful trees, pumpkins, wreaths, corn and sunflower mazes, hayrides, harvests…with just a little spooky (or sometimes a lot) thrown in for good measure. 

Scary Mary from “Hungry for Science: Poems to Crunch on” has been getting her garden ready for the season. 

For some outdoor education, why not go for a walk and observe the earthly changes around you? Maybe sketch or collect some and record them in a journal. Once back inside have a brainstorm session. Come up with a name then draw a new kind of plant that is growing and or ‘groaning’ in Scary Mary’s garden. 

Write a Botany Poem that describes these newly discovered creepy crawlers (what they look like, where they live, what they eat, what they smell like, why they are strange and wonderful etc.) and bewitch your readers!

Gnome Fungus: By Athena

Gnome Fungus never sleeps, but it really likes to eat!

What do they eat? They eat YOU complete!

Gnome fungus has eyes. It watches everything.

It sometimes even talks, but rarely ever sings.

Gnome fungus has spikes on its body.

Don’t dare touch it or you’ll have to go potty.

Gnome fungus can be red, brown, blue and yellow.

If you do touch it, it feels like jello.

You can buy Gnome Fungus and water it twice.

If you do this every day, it will be pretty nice.

The Deadly Dandelion: By Loretta

Don’t think of touching it or you will get stuck on it.

If you walk by it, you will get ‘dead’ by it.

If you don’t trust it, you will need to split it.

What did this deadly dandelion say?

It said it has spikes and it can bike!

It is beautiful and colourful.

It is wonderful, but also dreadful.

Get your copy of “Hungry for Science: Poems to Crunch on”, published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside at your local bookstore, library or on-line through amazon!

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Earth Day Colour Poems

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together … all things connect.” —Chief Seattle

Today marks the 50thanniversary of Earth Day. The planet speaks to me in poetry, in the sound of a spring rain and the way its droplets weigh down the emergent foliage on the birch tree out back. It disperses light through the delicately transluscent skin of the bleeding heart’s blossoms in my garden. It erupts in colours and patterns of all kinds.

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Today, take some time to ponder colour. Let it speak to you. Since today we celebrate the earth, find some of the colour that springs from it and write about it. Let imagination be your brush, your pen.

Colour poems are simple and beautiful. Start by reading a poem by one of the greats…Shel Silverstein. What colours are you?  Do your colours change?

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Go to your garden or look at a plant in a window. Do you see green? Pink? Reds and oranges?

Write a list poem, using the colour at the beginning of each line. Write a 5 senses poem. What does your colour look, sound, smell, taste, feel like?

Below is a short list poem I wrote to honour the earth and a feeling poem inspired by green.

Pink

Pink is the morning sun through a tapestry of trees.

Pink is a shower of cherry blossoms, brushed free by a passing robin’s wing.

Pink is the earth’s first blush of love, red tempered with white, twirling, ephemeral to the dreamers below.

Green

Green looks like the first tender shoots of grass, pushing through winter’s turf.

Green sounds like stillness across a pond.

Green smells like wet earth and tulip petals.

Green tastes like spring rain on your tongue.

Green feels like hope.

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These colour poems can be adapted for any age, be composed with one word or several. Try one today and share below. Take a photo to go with your poem or draw a picture. Colour the earth with creativity.

 

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Poetry in Pantomime: But How do I Act Out a Sitting on a Tuffet?

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Does anyone know what a tuffet is? I certainly had to look it up. A tuffet is a tuft of clump of something or a footstool or low seat. How Miss Muffet, in all of her petticoats sat comfortably on something so low to enjoy her curds and whey without spilling them is a mystery.

National Poetry Month is a perfect time to play with words. Poetry doesn’t have to be read, it can also be acted, interpreted, re-written and captured in photographs and videos!

So…why not try Poetry in Pantomime? It will take at least two participants, but you can do this live with your family or via zoom, facetime or skype!

Here’s how it works:

-Choose a poem, but do not share it with your partner. For example, Little Miss Muffet. Depending on your age, you can choose a much more difficult one. Look up any words you may not know, or have someone help you with this.

-When you are ready, act out your poem, line by line for a partner. You can also use drawings if you like. It helps to hold up a finger to indicate which line you are on.

-Your partner writes down a line of poetry for each line you ‘act out’.

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-Switch roles. Now your partner acts and you write.

-Take some time to edit/revise/add to your poem, then read your poetry to your partner!

-As an extension, take photographs that ‘illustrate’ your poem or make a short video of you reading and acting out your new verse!

Have fun and share your experience below! How did your writing turn out?

Thanks to Stone Soup Newsletter for the ideas!

 

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13 Ways…

In isolation, the world has both sped up and wound down. It asks us to look at things differently, how we socialize, how we shop, how we communicate. Perhaps we have time to examine our lives more carefully.

In celebration of National Poetry Month, and as a challenge to slow down and settle into mindfulness, why not try to write a 13 Ways to Look at Something Poem.

Stretch your imagination.

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Begin by reading Wallace Stevens’ poem, “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” where he tackled the challenge of coming up with 13 different ways to describe one object. While the language may be difficult for younger readers, the concept is accessible to all.

It simply involves finding an object and thinking of 13 or more different ways of looking at it! This enhances thinking skills while strengthening creativity.

The process is easy! Select an object. Select a spot to write and observe that object closely. Dream. Think. Be.

Brainstorm. Write down all of the ways you can think of to ‘see’ this object. A marshmallow might become a miniature trampoline, a candle a campfire.

Share your list. Choose the strongest 4 ideas and write a stanza to go with each.

Read, print, illustrate and photograph. Maybe even select a topic such as 13 ways to look an a grandmother or an uncle, create a card and send it!

Above all, I hope you discover another way to create and enjoy the written word!

Below is a poem written by grade 6 student Charlie Yin. He used a candle for inspiration.

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4 Ways to Look at a Candle…

As a campfire that keeps you warm in all cases.

Like the middle of a volcano burbling with lava bubbles.

Like a sauna, so hot that all the coldness is zapped out of your body.

So warm it’s like sand, burning your feet on a beach day.

 

It’s like an unlimited flare, hot, red and glowing.

It glows like a lantern then blows towards the sky like fireworks.

A signal reminding people to come and help you,

When you are in danger.

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It’s very useful and handy.

An everyday thing kept in drawers and pockets.

You can watch how it melts and dream of ice cream.

Then let it light your way to the refrigerator.

 

 

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Celebrate National Poetry Month with…Ice Cream Poetry!

Today we kick off a WHOLE month celebrating poetry! It’s National Poetry Month!

Why not start with a party? Every party needs ice cream right?

Poetry and ice cream make a deliciously divine, decadent duo, especially when they invite alliteration to attend making it a tremendous trio!

Let’s get ready for the party.

Brainstorm some astonishingly amazing and even disgustingly dastardly ice cream flavours, then triple or quadruple scoop them on top of a cone (my preference has always been a waffle cone).

Check out the example below.

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Draw your own five scooper, then label and colour your creation!

Share if you can, because, as you know, everyone screams for ice cream.

Then, and here’s the cherry on top, go to your own freezer and, if your parents let you, stack your own delicious treat and enjoy!

Hurry before your inspiration melts away!

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May You…Positive Poetry to Foster Heartwarming Moments

What better time than now to send good wishes out to the world? To those we love? To those who may be in isolation and unable to see people?  Take some time today to be positive and compose a May You poem that captures something warm and fuzzy, then share it, either below or with those you love! Maybe even host a family poetry reading!

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I have created May You poems with many people of all ages. One year, at Brockton Preparatory School, I worked with the grade ones to compose, illustrate, act and perform a poem themed around “My Wishes for the Earth”, in celebration of Earth Day.

Grade 1 Black May You (dragged) 2Grade 1 Black May You (dragged)

If grade ones can be this creative, so can you!

 May You (List Poems)

This kind of poetry focuses on using theme and repetition. Rhyme and rhythm may be added. May You poems are a type of list poem and offer fair tidings to the reader. May you is repeated at the beginning of each line.

How?

  • Think of a list of wishes you might like to offer up to an individual or to the world. If you like, think of a theme, like wishes for the world, or wishes for my family…
  • Decide on which wishes are the strongest and highlight them.
  • Edit the list adding expressive language, similes or metaphors and put them in order. Each line typically begins with May you…the poem can be written in rhyme or prose.
  • Illustrate your wishes in a book and gift it to someone. Record the poem using Garageband or the voice recorder on your phone. Share with those you love.

 Sample:

May you have the sweetest dream, filled with delicious ice-cream.

May your hair be nice and beautiful,
with a pink bow that’s very wonderful.

May your house be big and cozy,
with a couch that’s soft and fuzzy.
May your cat be cute and cuddly,
just like your brothers, Dan and Dudley.

May your parents buy you everything you want, and may they be nice people who never ever taunt!

Written by a grade 5 student.

 

 

 

 

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The Science of Catching A Leprechaun

So, you’ve built your trap, left a trail of leprechaun treats and made some observations. What did you discover about the science of catching a leprechaun? Did anyone succeed?

While staying at home, Edison is taking time out to develop his inquiring mind and hone his science and communications skills. Not only did he engineer a trap, he used the scientific method to record his observations and successes. Why not follow his lead and using his example below, let the world know what you learned about leprechauns this week?

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Edison’s Leprechaun Trap

Reason: To build a trap and catch a leprechaun to get three wishes.

Materials:

Empty lysol container with a lid

String

Fake or real coins

Markers

Sticky tape

Green construction paper

Method:

  1. Gather all the materials.
  2. Decorate the outside of the container with green construction paper and put drawings and messages such as ‘No human area’, ‘Trap free’  ‘May be gold’ and ‘100% safe’.
  3. Tape a battery on to the lid.
  4. Prop a marker under the lid.
  5. Tape a string to the lid.
  6. Put money inside and wait!

Hypothesis: The leprechaun will slide down the string and the weight of the leprechaun and the battery will make the lid fall and stick.  The leprechaun will be trapped.

Observations:

  1. In the morning the trap had been activated. When opened, there was no leprechaun inside, and all of the coins were still there.
  2. The room that the trap was in was extra messy, for example things that had been in a special order were mixed up.

Conclusion: A leprechaun activated the trap. It saw coins, but there were not enough coins for him to be interested, so he escaped. Next time the suggestion is to use more coins so the leprechaun will stay. Also, place the marker at a different angle, so the leprechaun cannot escape easily.

 

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Building a Better Leprechaun Trap…

Leprechauns have been know to, like their December friends (also known as Elves on Shelves) leave some mischievous evidence of their presence in homes across the world as March 17thapproaches.

My nephews have reported finding green Leprechaun ‘droppings’ in their toilet on St. Patrick’s Day morning as well as what seemed to be ‘green pee’ left behind by one of the wee folk. There have been tiny green boot prints left in the hallways and inexplicable messes left in the living room. Couch pillows were strewn around as if someone had been looking for coins that were rumoured to be buried underneath them.

If you too have experienced some unruly mishaps or have suddenly found all of your green crayons missing…you may have a Leprechaun.

This is both good and bad. Good, because if you do manage to ‘catch’ a Leprechaun, he is supposed to give you ALL of his gold coins, bad because if you do not locate him you may wake up to find that your hair has been braided and dyed green and your parents are mad because SOMEONE left green handprints all over their newly cleaned windows!

So, why not spend some time building a perfect Leprechaun Trap over the next day or two and see if you can catch him AND get rich at the same time?

All you need is lots of imagination, stuff you can find around your house and something to lure the Leprechaun into your trap. There is no right or wrong way to do this and there are literally thousands of designs. Try one with a built in water slide or roller coaster! Leprechauns love to have fun you know!

My nephews built one out of a box and decorated it with shamrocks. Inside they put plenty of green things (cause it is a Leprechaun’s favourite colour). Some of these things included a stuffed green monkey, green water, a green apple, a comfortable green bed and some gold chocolate coins. There were motion sensors at the front of the trap, with sticky tape at the entrance to catch him as soon as he stepped inside. The last time they built one, the trap was activated, but there was no Leprechaun inside…just a note saying, “Better luck next year. Thanks for the chocolate.”

If you want to read up on some real life Leprechaun stories or research some of the designs people around the world have devised then watch this reading of  “How to Catch a Leprechaun” by Adam Wallace with illustrations by Andy Elkerton.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyg32H5eBNk

Then get some design ideas at:

https://www.kidsplayandcreate.com/easy-leprechaun-traps-for-kids-st-patricks-day-activity-for-kids/

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! May the luck of the Irish be yours to share!

 

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Heart…A Winning Story of Remembrance

From a blank page to a winning essay…Aaron Lu is an outstanding young writer, whose essay, Heart, came first locally, regionally and then third out of thousands of entries provincially for BC and the Yukon in last year’s Royal Canadian Legion Essay Contest in the Intermediate level.

His process began with storytelling. I shared some of my stories of having been at Vimy and showed him pictures of the monument, of the trenches, the landscape and of the carvings that soldiers left behind in the tunnels. This inspired him to do his own research and write a story that was definitely full of heart. Lest we forget…

Heart

By: Aaron Lu

 History was not that interesting to me until I read about some of the things Canadian war heroes had left behind. A story that stuck out to me lies underground at Vimy Ridge. Soldiers waiting there carved images on the walls. The men may not have survived but their feelings and emotions are preserved in their artwork. The carvings helped me to relate to what they were experiencing in the days leading up to the moment they went “over the top” and to understand what they might have been feeling. I imagined what it would have been like to be one of them and suddenly, history was not something of the past, but something that lived on.

The souterrain felt claustrophobic. It was damp, dark, stinky and muddy. Rats ran everywhere, jumping over our bodies. I hadn’t seen sunlight for a whole week, and I really missed the outside world. Because of my skill in the mines back home, I was assigned to dig under the German trenches, and place explosives there so we could blow their trenches up from underneath. It wasn’t nearly as easy as it sounded. I had been told that there were German soldiers quietly listening for us, and any noise that we made would expose our location. We also had to be fast, because we knew the Germans were trying to do the same. It was gruesome,monotonous work. I toiled in near silence, and every moment, I was scared that I was going to be blown up by a German mine. Sometimes, I felt like running home, away from the war, but I knew it was my duty to be here for the benefit of our nation. This morning, German soldier movement was detected and I was ordered to stop digging immediately.

            Now, I was sitting in the tunnel, and I felt a familiar longing for home. Even though the past few days had been frustrating, frightening and cold, there was one moment that lit up my whole body. It happened two days ago, when I received a package from my family. It was the first time in weeksthat I’d felt happiness and excitement. Inside the package was a red heart, carefully knit by my younger sister. I kissed it. I missed my family so much and I really wanted to get back home and reunite with them. The other soldiers were either sleeping, or carving on the chalk walls. Some drew maple leafs the new symbol of Canada as a nation. Some wrote words, and some drew pictures. I took out my knife, and started carving my own image. I might not survive this war, but my inner feelings would. I drew a heart, representing my love for my family. I was about to draw a family picture, but just as I started, I heard an order from the commander. It was time to go over the top.

 

            Canadian soldier J. McCormick killed in action on April 9th, 1917.

            Lest We Forget.

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Essays on Remembrance…

It is that time of year where we pause to remember those who paved the way for us to live in peace.

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I always encourage students to enter the essay and poetry contest sponsored by the Royal Canadian Legion. You see the national winners, representing the youth of Canada laying the wreath at the War Memorial in Ottawa each year.

Lewis Fang. last year, started with an, “I don’t have any connection to the wars or remembrance…” Then, with some research, some conversations, some thoughtfulness and some creativity, he composed this winning essay.

Lewis won first place locally and first place regionally, going on to compete on the provincial level for BC and the Yukon in the Junior Essay Division.

I hope his story inspires you to take your moment of silence on Monday.

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My Moment of Silence

By: Lewis Fang

The left side of my chest. My heart beats under it. A heart that feels the pain of many people who suffered and died. I pin a red poppy there every year on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. This connects me to hundreds of thousands of people out there who sacrificed their lives for their families and people that they didn’t know. The poppy represents bravery and sadness, but at the same time love and encouragement. A poppy symbolizes freedom and safety for our country.

Every year we have a Remembrance Ceremony at school. When the moment of silence began, my head used to be filled with unimportant things like my upcoming classes and who I might play with at recess.

Now, in the moment of silence, I think about the kids who lost their dads in war. Now I imagine their faces and what they would be thinking. The kids would look out the window every day hundreds of times with tears filling their eyes and their moms would be trying to calm them down.

Now, in the moment of silence, I think about how the soldiers felt when they were facing death. I think about how they found the courage to go on the battlefield, facing gunpoint.

Now, in the moment of silence, I think of how my personality would be affected if someone I loved disappeared from the world. Would a soldier’s family have felt the same way? How did they make the decision to leave their families and go to war?

Now, in the moment of silence, I give thanks to all of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for us, for our rights and our freedom. I give thanks for all the soldiers who refused to let their country down and went to war without a second thought.

Now, in the moment of silence, I think about all the things that my poppy represents. I put my hand on my heart and remember the thousands of hearts, both now and in the past that it connects me to.

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