Think back to when you were five years old. Try to remember what it felt like to be five years old and going to school for the very first time. The following poem is about a little boy's first day of school.
When I Was Five
by Ashok Kaul, age 11,New York, New York
When I was five, I got out of school.
- It was the first day and
- I had already made friends.
- But none of us knew
- what was happening.
- I heard a lot of talk about
- crash mess fall tall.
- Why was everyone talking
- about mess fall hit hurt
- and tears. Fear.
- My mom took me home.
- The streets were empty.
- I heard fire trucks and police cars.
- Then my mom told me.
- The two towers were missing.
- I was five. It was September 11.
- Suddenly, I felt unsure.
- From the September/October 2008 issue of Stone Soup. www.stonesoup.com. Accessed April 23, 2009
Take a few minutes of silence to let the simple words of the poem soak in and to mark the solemnity of the subject, then ask the following questions.
What happened while Ashok was in school? Talk about what happened on September 11 in terms appropriate to the age of the children.
How do you think Ashok felt when he left for school that morning. How do you think he felt when the school day was over?
Do you remember what you were doing on September 11, 2001? Share (write and/or discuss)
What is the most memorable day in your life? (write and/or discuss)
Do you think it made Ashok feel better to write about his first day of school?
Language, whether spoken or written, helps people process emotion. Encourage children to talk and write about memorable events.
POETRY BOOK REVIEW: JANECZKO-- A poetry collection compiled by Paul Janeczko
Hey, You! Poems to Skyscrapers, Mosquitoes and Other Fun Things
Paul Janeczko has collected poems written to (yes, to) all sorts of things from skyscrapers and mosquitoes, as the title indicates, to sneakers and light beams. The poem below is just one whimsical example. The mixed-media illustrations by Rober Rayevsky are as unique as the poems.
by Joan Bransfield Graham
of the night.
near and far,
turn on lamps,
& sprinkle stars.
One small flame,
a tiny spark...
or wide as day
you scatter dark.
Janeczko, Paul B. 2007. Hey, you!: Poems to Skyscrapers, Mosquitoes, and Other Fun Things. Ill. by Robert Rayevskey. New York: Harper Collins. ISBN 0060523476
Can you think of something interesting, different, or down right weird to write a poem to?
Try to illustrate the poem in a unique fashion, too.
This activity could be done in small groups.
POETRY BY CHILDREN—Post a Poetry BREAK with a poem of your choice written by a child
Think back to your earliest memory. Is it really a memory, or is it a story about you when you were very young? This poem is a girl's memory of time spent with her Dad when she was a toddler! Whether she is really remembering what happened, or is reliving the story she's heard before, the poem is full of love and happiness!
You . . . and Your Dad
by Katie Ferman, age 11,
Three Lakes, Wisconsin
Traveling the interstate routes
With no sense of direction
Following no road map
Traveling only by the lay of the land
Going on only because
Of the love of the land
You and your dad
You, a curly-haired toddler
Without even the knowledge
To put the right shoes on the right feet
Listening to Willie Nelson in a trance
Feeling the love, but not really understanding it
Your bottle in one hand
The other, clutching the seat belt
Anticipating the next fork in the road
You, a rosy-cheeked kid
Not knowing anything but
Willie Nelson’s voice and
The indescribable landscape
That later on in life you wish you would be able to relive
That single moment
A thousand times
Only the hazy memory
Sticking to you like the apple juice leaking from the bottle
Stuck to your lively little fingers at one time
You and your dad
On the interstate routes.
From the May/June 2004 issue of Stone Soup. www.stonesoup.com. Accessed April 23, 2009.
Play some Willie Nelson music in the background while reading this poem.
Ask the children to share and/or describe their earliest memories, including who is present in the memory. Use as many senses as possible. Use as many details as possible.