Help your children to create poem memories of their favorite places. They can use all of their senses to give friends and family a feeling of really having been there.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux and the Martin family did just the same. As a young girl, St. Thérèse loved to walk in the countryside around her home in northern France with her family. Years later, we can feel like we are walking with her when we read her descriptions in Story of the Soul, “the sight of fields enameled with cornflowers” (St. Therese 29) and during a storm, when “the tall daisies were beginning to sparkle with precious stones.” (St. Therese 38)
Children can visit a favorite place and write a poem right in that setting. Here are some ideas to stop writer’s block before it starts and get all five senses working.
Beforehand, prepare an extra-special poetry-starter kit:
- For “see”, visit a hardware store and pick up paint chips with fun names of colors. Kids can then match the names to elements of beauty in the environment and use these “found” words in their poems. Our purple paint chip, “blueberry popover,” evoked an April wildflower. Our “mulberry” and “sun shower” paint chips inspired us to write about the last sunlight before rain over a flower-dotted field.
- For writing, bring small notebooks and pens for the new poets. Encourage them to experiment and scratch out lines. Few poems are finished when first written. Find freedom in making mistakes.
- Talk about similes: comparisons with “like” or “as.” Give an example of a very simple one, such as, “That cloud looks like a sheep.” Encourage each poet to create one simile.
During writing, ask kids to:
- Close their eyes and smell what’s around them. Move around the space if there isn’t a scent at first.
- Close their eyes and listen. What can they hear? If they are outside, they might hear birds. What can they hear besides birdsong? What is unusual?
- Find three different textures to touch in the place. Remember to leave objects where they found them. Think of ways to describe these in the poem.
- For “taste,” imagine how an animal might feel in the environment finding water or food. Or, if the favorite place is Grandma’s house, how do your children feel eating there?
- Look around for what is moving in the place. Action adds excitement to a poem. Is an animal running? Can children think of a great verb? Maybe it’s galloping, oozing, tapping, stomping, careening, or gliding?
- Think of a simile. These add sparkle to a poem.
Once you are at home, help the children to type their poems from their notebooks into the computer. Help them to revise their writing and put in line breaks. Happy writing!
St. Therese. Story of a Soul. Trans. John Clarke. 3rd Edition. Washington: ICS Publications, 1996.
Suitability: Grades 2-8, Subject: Language arts