Friday, August 31, 2012

Poetry Friday Mini-Grants Available

Tell us your poetry story and win a free copy of The Poetry Friday Anthology—either an advance copy of the paperback book or a copy of the e-book version (your choice). Are you brand new to poetry, but eager to start sharing poems with your students? Or are you looking for new ways to keep poetry fresh?

Send us a paragraph proposal saying why you want to instigate Poetry Friday sharing in your school, library, or educational context, along with your name, affiliation, email, mailing address and paperback or e-book preference.

Twenty-five respondents will receive a Poetry Friday start up kit and become Poetry Friday Ambassadors. Send application information to: info at pomelobooks dot com. 

Deadline: Oct. 1, 2012

Winners will be announced here, too.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Week 1: School-themed poetry

Here is a sample entry from The Poetry Friday Anthology to whet your appetite.

This is the first poem for SECOND GRADE (Week 1).

Here is the first of the five Take 5 activities that accompany this poem:

1. Arrange a quick visit to the library or bring a pile, bin, or cart of library books on a variety of topics. Show students your public library card and have applications available. Then read this poem aloud; slow down to enunciate each item in lines 5-16.

The Library 
by Sara Holbrook

Take the walk
to the open door,
this is where you
find out more
about the stars,
oceans, quakes,
dragons, cars,
cheetahs, snakes,
unicorns, and
jumping beans,
horses, bugs,
and time machines.
From killer whales,
and free tail bats,
to hammer heads
and kitty cats,
the library has got a book.
Come on in,
take a look.
Learn how to cook
or write a poem.
Read it here
or take it home.
What do you want to learn about?
It’s free!
It’s here!
Check it out!

[Copyright Sara Holbrook, 2012; all rights reserved.]

Then follow up with these additional Take 5 activities.

2. Read the poem aloud again and invite students to read the last three lines in unison.

3. For discussion: What is your favorite book you’ve read (so far)?

4. Select one skill: Help students find the rhyming pairs of “words that sound alike.” Ask students: What are the words that rhyme? (These include: door/more; quakes/snakes; beans/machines; bats/cats; book/look/cook; poem/home; about/out.) Read the poem aloud again, but pause before the second word in each rhyming pair and wait for the students to chime in with the correct response (more, snakes, machines, cats, look, home, out).

5. Follow up with more poetry-- for example, look for another poem in The Poetry Friday Anthology--  “Poems are Out of this World!” by Charles Ghigna (Kindergarten, Week 29) or a poem from Please Bury Me in the Library by J. Patrick Lewis.

If you haven't purchased it yet, get your own copy of The Poetry Friday Anthology here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Take 5

One of the most significant features of The Poetry Friday Anthology is the inclusion of standards-based mini-lessons for each poem at every grade level (K-5). We call that the "Take 5" component with five activities related to the poem. You're welcome to use some, all, or none of these activities, but they provide a starting place for presenting the poem and connecting with curriculum standards. The Take 5 components also follow a regular pattern: they include guidance on reading the poem aloud, a creative way to engage students in reading the poem chorally, a discussion prompt, a skill focus, and a link to another related poem or poetry book. In just five minutes, you can lead a poetry break that is enjoyable, meaningful, participatory, and skill-based.


Tip #1: This tip pairs the poem with an easy suggestion for how to make the poem come alive as you read the poem aloud by pairing the poem with a prop, adding gestures or movement, trying out specific dramatic reading techniques, singing the poem to a certain tune, etc.

Tip #2: This tip suggests how to engage children in reading the poem aloud together with you. One example is echo reading, asking them to repeat certain words or lines after you. Note: when leading an echo reading, keep the pace moving so the echo reading won’t interrupt a poem to the point of distraction.

Tip #3: You’ll find a fun discussion prompt here, tailored to fit the poem. It’s usually an open-ended question with no single, correct answer. Encourage diversity in responses! Take a moment to hear what students think and invite them to share their thoughts and feelings.

Tip #4: Here we focus on one skill tied to the Common Core (or TEKS) standards. We designed this tip to connect the poem to a specific language arts or poetry skill or concept such as rhyme, repetition, rhythm, alliteration, and onomatopoeia. Also, this is where we point out poetry forms (cinquain, haiku, tanka, acrostic, diamante) as well as explain techniques such as personification and simile.

Tip #5: In this tip we share other related poem titles and poetry book titles that connect well with the featured poem, keeping the cycle of poetry sharing going.

Get your copy of The Poetry Friday Anthology now for Take 5 activities for 216 poems all year long!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

More on the Core

The Poetry Friday Anthology is unique for two main reasons: 

1. It features a year's worth of new original poems for every grade level K-5, with a poem per week by a variety of poets writing for young people.

2. Every poem in every grade level is also paired with learning activities that are anchored in the Common Core standards (or TEKS standards in Texas).

What are the expectations outlined in the Common Core?

In sharing poetry with kindergartners, we capitalize on their developing knowledge of language, their joy in learning and playing with words, and their emerging understanding of how words should be spoken, spelled, read, and written. First we focus on enjoyment and understanding, then we guide students in recognizing and responding to poems. We can explore the rhythm of poetry as well as the power of rhyme and the sounds of words.

With first graders, we shift slightly to guide students in understanding how poets express feelings in poetry and appeal to the senses through language. We can also help them understand and identify the words and phrases poets use to communicate emotions and convey sensory experiences through poetry.

In second grade, we guide students in responding to the rhythm of poetry and recognizing how rhyme is used in poems. We can also explore how repetition and alliteration can help shape a poem and how meaning emerges.

In third grade we support students in responding to poetry in various forms, exploring narrative poems that tell stories, lyrical poems that explore questions and emotions, and humorous poems that make us groan or laugh. We help students understand how poets use lines and stanzas to build poems in distinctive ways.

In fourth grade, we also guide students in responding to poetry in various forms, articulating themes from key ideas and details in the poems. In sharing poetry aloud and in print, we can assist students in understanding how structural elements such as verse, rhythm, and meter help shape a poem.

Finally, in fifth grade, the emphasis is to help students respond to poetry in various forms, articulate themes from key ideas and details in the poems, and explain how the poem’s speaker reflects upon a topic and shapes it with a particular point of view. We can guide students in understanding word meanings and how figurative language such as metaphors and similes function in poetry. We can also discuss how structural elements such as stanzas and line breaks help shape a poem and how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a poem.

In a variety of meaningful and participatory ways, we can celebrate poetry while gently introducing and reinforcing key skills. (FYI: We also specify the TEKS standards in the TEKS edition of this book.)

The keys to remember are:
  • A poem should first be enjoyed for its own sake;
  • Presenting poems in participatory ways (in various choral strategies) gets your learner
        "into the poem;”
  • The main idea is to help your learner see and hear the poetic elements after enjoying the poem through multiple readings—and to come through the "back door" to skills.

Get your copy of The Poetry Friday Anthology to use all year long-- now.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Why Friday?

Why does The Poetry Friday Anthology focus on Friday?

In 2006 blogger Kelly Herold brought Poetry Friday to the “kidlitosphere.” Much like “casual Friday” in the corporate world, there is a perception in the world of literature that on Fridays we should relax a bit and take a moment for something special. 

Why not bring the Poetry Friday concept into your classroom and take five minutes every Friday to share a poem and explore it a bit, connecting it with children’s lives and capitalizing on a teachable moment? Pausing to share a poem—and reinforce a language skill—on Poetry Friday is an easy way to infuse poetry into your current teaching practice.

On Poetry Friday you can find blog posts that include original poems, book reviews, song lyrics, poetry curriculum tips, and more. Each Friday a different blogger volunteers to gather and host a list of poetry posts from participating blogs. We'll try to note who is hosting Poetry Friday here, too.

Yes, of course you can share poetry on other days of the week too—and we hope that you will! But for those who are not already teaching poetry regularly, planning for Poetry Friday makes poetry sharing intentional and not incidental. And once you have celebrated a month of Poetry Fridays, we promise that students will be clamoring for it.
Get your own copy of The Poetry Friday Anthology now-- and tell a colleague about it and about pausing to celebrate Poetry Fridays.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Coming just in time for the 2012-2013 school year,  The Poetry Friday Anthology edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong is available now.  It's a new anthology of original poems for children in kindergarten through fifth grade by 75 popular poets including J. Patrick Lewis, Jack Prelutsky, Jane Yolen, Margarita Engle, X. J. Kennedy, Kathi Appelt, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Georgia Heard and Nikki Grimes and many more. [See the complete list of poets in the sidebar on the right.]

The book includes a poem a week for the whole school year (K-5) with curriculum connections provided for each poem, each week, each grade level. Just five minutes every “Poetry Friday” will reinforce key skills in reading and language arts such as rhyme, repetition, rhythm, alliteration, etc.

  • 36 original poems for Kindergarten (with mini-lessons for each poem)
  • 36 original poems for First Grade (with mini-lessons for each poem)
  • 36 original poems for Second Grade (with mini-lessons for each poem)
  • 36 original poems for Third Grade (with mini-lessons for each poem)
  • 36 original poems for Fourth Grade (with mini-lessons for each poem)
  • 36 original poems for Fifth Grade (with mini-lessons for each poem)

That's a poem a week every week from August through May!

For teachers, parents, and librarians who live in TEXAS, the learning activities for each poem are tied to the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) curriculum standards. For all the states that have adopted the Common Core standards, we offer tie-in activities with the poetry standards identified in the Common Core. 

The new Common Core Standards provide a framework that informs instruction and include a component focused on teaching children about poetry. That provides a central focus for this book. This book is first and foremost a quality anthology of original poetry for children written by 75 of today’s most popular poets. Children in any state (or country) can enjoy, explore, and respond to these poems. However, we have also come to realize that educators, librarians, and parents are looking for guidance in how to share poetry with children and teach the skills within the curriculum as well. Thus, this book offers both. Quality poetry plus curriculum-based suggestions for helping children enjoy and understand poetry more deeply.

Explore a poem, connect it with children's lives and capitalize on a teachable moment. Pausing to share a poem—and reinforce a language skill— for five minutes on Poetry Friday (or any other day) is a simple and effective way to infuse poetry into your current teaching practice or routine.

Get your copy of The Poetry Friday Anthology and start the year off with a poem every Friday.  Get it here now!