It is a beautiful Sunday afternoon here! My spirit is full from a lovely church service, my tummy is full from an enjoyable lunch with friends, and now I hope to fill you with a few more life lessons I have learned from the Poetry Box Project. In preparing for the arrival of the Poetry Box, I had our local librarian collect as many books written by our poetry authors as she could find for me. One of the books drew my attention right away. It was “Knock at a Star” by X.J. Kennedy and Dorothy Kennedy (X.J has the beginning of a poem in the Poetry Box). They listed six things that poetry can do for children. Those six are included in my life lessons post last time and in this one today, along with two more I added so that we had a balloon message for each classroom. Here we go…..
Message 5 : “Poetry Sends Messages”
In this month long excursion into poetry, I think the students and I have enjoyed the poems that have sent funny messages the most! You know what I mean. The ones that talk about underpants, bratty sisters, boogers, or teachers being eaten by aliens. There is something about being in a room of children and having in your hands the power to make them laugh! And how fun it is as a teacher to laugh right along with them! (even if they are laughing whille picturing me being eaten by aliens…) Sometimes it would start with a snicker or a giggle, then came the snort, and finally the all out belly shaking, knee slapping, fall out of your chair laugh! It is a joyous sound and one that is heard far too little in today’s classrooms…..don’t get me started. I tell my students the first day of school that they need to know that their Second Grade Teacher is Crazy! (And she is!) I am letting them see that I will make mistakes, have bad hair days, wear mismatched socks, and countless other things. This creates a safe place for them to be themselves too. I believe learning should be fun, whether it is learning in the classroom or learning to navigate life. When is the last time you have had a side-splitting, tears down the cheek laugh? We need to laugh more! We need to learn to laugh at those little bumps in the road we encounter every day. We need to learn to laugh at ourselves and allow others to laugh right along with us. We need to make life a safe place to be ourselves. It is pretty hard to be mad at each other or make fun of one another if we are laughing in unison at the comedy act that is life!
Message 6: “Poetry Starts You Wondering”
We have read many poems about animals and nature. They have prompted us to wonder about the world around us. One of the scary parts of being a teacher is having to be prepared for hard questions. Children wonder about a lot of things and they are not afraid to ask. It happens often during Science time. The world is an amazing place and there is so much to learn! I love to turn the hard questions back to the children and ask them why they think things are so. Their answers are sometimes so full of eight year old wisdom that I have to pause and take it all in. Having curiousity like a child is a trait I hope to always possess. Every year we study the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly and every year when the children have gone home and the room is empty, I stare at the caterpillars hoping to witness the exact moment they become a chrisilys and every year it happens in the blink of an eye. It is a true miracle that keeps me wondering and wondering is a good thing! So, whether we are wondering about nature, other cultures, religion, problems we see, or our future, we need to do it with the enthusiasm and curiousity of an eight year old. If we do, we will open ourselves to the limitless possibilities the world has in store for us.
Message 7: “Poetry Makes Music Out of Words”
I have a confession to make. I am a music-a-holic. It’s true. I can’t get enough. I like all kinds. Some people would say that my iPod is filled to excess. I say, I was born with a musical soul. I pretty much hear a song in my head all day long. (Crazy remember?) I even wake up at night sometimes with lyrics going through my mind. I think that is why I love poetry so much. The words in a poem create a melody and a beat that makes me want to sing along. There are songs and poems for bad times and sad times in life. There are songs and poems for joyous and glad times. They speak to me. They comfort me. They inspire me. I want my life to do that for my students, family, and friends too. I want to be there for them in their good and not so good times. I want to have the right words to say. I want to comfort and uplift them. Most of all I want to inspire them with a tune that helps them want to become the best they can be. And if they awake in the dark of night, I hope that a message of hope, a song of joy, or a poem of love from me, crosses their mind and brings them into the light of day.
And finally, Message 8: “Poetry Makes You Smile”
Poetry is about life. It is a gift from one person to the world. It touches us, challenges us. and can change us. I told the children in our school on the day we unveiled the Poetry Box that “there was poetry in all of them”. I do believe there is poetry in all of us. We are gifts to the world, we can touch others, challenge others, and bring about change. Most of all, we all have the power to help someone find their smile. I hope these lessons have helped you find yours.