Category: News

Sea Star Wishes: Poems From the Coast

Sea Star Wishes: Poems From the Coast by Eric Ode

As Children’s Poet Laureate, one of my jobs is to select a collection of poetry each month to feature on the Poetry Foundation’s website. There you’ll find my monthly book picks, and those of the previous Children’s Poets Laureate.

My pick for July, 2013 is Sea Star Wishes: Poems from the Coast by Eric Ode, Illustrated by Erik Brooks.

In addition, I interviewed Erik Ode about his life as a poet and about his new book. Here is what he had to say.

Put your child in MORE BEARS!

MORE BEARS! Create Your Own Story Book

MORE BEARS! is now available in a special customizable hardcover edition from Put Me In the Story.

MORE BEARS! was written to be read (and yelled!) out loud. This delightfully silly, personalized story will have your child calling out “More Bears!” within the first few pages.  What’s even more exciting is that your son or daughter’s photo and name will appear throughout the ENTIRE story! This interactive book will have your kid eager for reading as well as for “More Bears!” Put Me In The Story allows you to quickly create your own personalized book with your child’s name, photo, and a personal dedication page.

Click here to tour the book and see what it will look like with your child’s photo and name incorporated into the story.

Kenn Nesbitt is the New Children’s Poet Laureate

Children's Poet Laureate, Kenn Nesbitt
On June 10, 2013, the Poetry Foundation announced that I will serve as the next Children’s Poet Laureate from now until June, 2015. I’m honored to accept this award and to be able to use this platform to help advance children’s poetry for the next two years. Over the coming months, I plan to announce new initiatives to help expose more kids throughout the U.S. and around the world to the joys of reading and writing poetry.

Visit the Poetry Foundation website to learn more about the Children’s Poet Laureate award. You can also read their press release announcing the new Children’s Poet Laureate, and you can read an interview I gave to outgoing Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis.

I look forward to the next couple of years of creating, sharing, and teaching poetry, and of spreading the art of poetry to kids everywhere.

Creativity Exercise – Describe the Sky

Poetic Description Exercise

Writers often say that your brain is a bit like a muscle—the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. It’s good to give yourself some regular mental exercises to help build your creativity over time, so your poetry will keep developing and improving. (The good news is that brain exercises don’t make you ache as much as push-ups!)

A great exercise that doesn’t need any special equipment—and that you can do anywhere at any time—is to describe the color of the sky.

Sounds really simple, right?!

Well, it can be simple to begin with, but the reason this exercise works so well is because your descriptions can become more and more elaborate as your creative muscles get stronger. The idea is to make sure every description is different!

How to Create Book Spine Poetry

Book Spine Poetry

Have you heard of “book spine poetry?” It’s a kind of poetry that you don’t really write from scratch – instead, you “find” it by arranging book titles to make a poem. This type of poem can be serious or funny, just like in regular poetry.

Here’s the basic idea. Imagine that you’re sitting at a table with all of these books in front of you:

  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • Goodnight Moon
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
  • Oh, The Places You’ll Go
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • Good Night, Gorilla
  • Stone Soup

To make a book spine poem, you would start by moving these books around into stacks with the spines together so that the titles are like the lines of a poem. You would keep moving the book titles around into different stacks until you find the “lines” that go best together to make a poem. For example, one set of titles might describe a story:

Poetry Smelling Game

“My Senses Are All Backward” Smelling Game

Your world is shaped by the information you take in through your senses.  You know which ice cream you like best because of your taste buds.  You know that you shouldn’t touch the stove top because of your sense of touch.  The sirens warn you to get out of the way!  And most importantly, your sense of smell keeps you away from the toxic stench emanating from the facilities after your brother spends an hour “resting!”

But what if you couldn’t trust those senses anymore?  That’s exactly what happens in the following poem, where the character’s senses turn up all backward.  Imagine describing the spray of a skunk as delightful, and the smell of a rose as hideous.  People would think you were crazy!  Do you think this poem is a bit crazy?

Personification Poetry Lesson Plan

This lesson plan uses descriptive examples to explain what personification means and how it is used in poetry. Students will read poem excerpts in which examples of personification are identified. Then, they will create their own poetic sentences and short poems using personification.

Personification means using human qualities or actions to describe an object or an animal. The word “personification” actually contains the word “person,” and to personify an object means to describe it as if it were a person. Instead of saying that the sun is shining, we might say that the sun is smiling down at us. Instead of describing a flag as moving in the wind, we could say that the flag is dancing.

Using a human word to describe an object can make a poetic image seem more vivid. It can also give us an idea about how the narrator (the person describing the object) is feeling toward the object. For example, “The sun was smiling down at me” seems to indicate that the narrator has positive feelings about the sunshine. On the other hand, a narrator who says “The sun was glaring down” seems to have negative feelings about it.

Raise Your Hand Poetry Craft Activity

Raise Your Hand Poetry Craft

Have you ever been raising your hand so long that it starts to tingle, go numb, and you swear it’s going to fall off any second… but the teacher just doesn’t call your name? In this poem, the kid in the very back of the class is going through just that.

Make Your Own Pet Apple

Make Your Own Pet Apple

Personification is one tool that writers use to bring their words to life. You can imagine a “sleeping meadow,” or darkness that crept in on the moon’s billowing cape. But personification doesn’t just have to be beautiful or haunting… it can also be really funny!

In the following poem, it is the personification of what the banana is unable to do that makes the experience hilarious. When you read the poem out loud, imagine the banana actually doing these things! Now, imagine your disappointment if you actually thought a banana could fetch and run and bow.

Jump-Rope Rhymes

Get Jumping! Making Playground Poetry Using Jump-Rope Rhymes

Jump Rope Poems

Did you know that kids have been skipping rope—or playing some type of very similar game—for hundreds of years? In the United States, skipping rope was a common way for city kids to play in the streets together from the early 1900s through the 1940s. A special version of jumping rope, called Double Dutch because it uses two jump ropes at the same time, was introduced to the children of New York City by Dutch families who had immigrated to America. Double Dutch later became a competitive sport worldwide.

Kids today still enjoy chanting or singing rhyming poems while they skip rope. Jump-rope rhymes allow you to combine the fun of poetry with the physical activity of skipping rope—a great way to stay physically fit while entertaining your brain!

Some of the jump-rope rhymes that you’ve heard on the playground or at the park are probably the same ones that your parents or grandparents used to recite when they were kids. Maybe you know this one: