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art form poetry and/or visual arts
multi-disciplines art, language arts
grade levels 2 thru 8
you will need writing materials and/or visual art materials

Overview


Certain Places are potent sources of both energy and art . Each person connects with places that give them energy.

This activity, like “A Special Moment,” explores the kinds of energy that nourish our spirits more than our bodies. Mind and body in fact are inseparable, and powerfully affirmative emotional experiences do affect our physical bodies in nourishing ways—we heal faster, our immune systems are strengthened, we are more well.

Students explore what makes places special, then write about a Special Place.

Activity


Background:

Children the world over connect deeply with certain little patches of Earth that become of life-long importance. In all cultures, kids make forts and/or playhouses, both real, imagined, or a mixture. These are places where they can practice for adult life. Children also designate certain places as places they can heal their feelings.
For children grades 3-4-5, this subject is an especially powerful one that often generates fine writing.

Students are asked to write a poem about a Special Place. Students may also be asked to draw or paint a Special Place. Or they may be asked to write a prose memoir piece.

Ask: What are some ways a Place can be special?

List responses on the board. Many responses will cluster around these ways:


• Secrecy: Only you know about it
• Privacy
• Safety
• Aloneness, or alone with a pet; a place to be with yourself
• Healing
• Magic or Enchantment
• Beauty
• Importance: Something really important happened here
• Nature: a natural place—an overgrown lot, the lilac bushes, some woods, a field
• Special because you made it.


Ask: How big or how small can a Special Place be?

Does a Special Place have to be out of doors?

Can it be someplace as ordinary as your bed?

Can it be a place you hide in your bedroom? Who sits in the closet?


Validate the possibility of writing about imaginary Special Places.

Many students, especially urban kids, go to imaginary places to heal.

Many people worldwide return to the same place over and over in dream. Is that place a place of energy?

Pre-Writing:Try these directions:


• Draw a map of your Special Place

• Write or draw a description of exactly how you get there? (A path or regular route can itself be a Special Place.)

• Make a list of all the things your Special Place is made of

• Make a sketch or painting of your Place. What does it look like?

• Write a “close-up, zoomed–in” description of one event that happened in your Place.

Journal Entries

• If the student wrote a poem, illustrate the poem in the Journal.
• If the student has several special places, write a prose memoir about one or more of them.

For Teacher Background


Two useful books are Children’s Special Places by David Sobel, and The Geography of Childhood by Nabhan and Trimble.

Student Source Sheet: A Place of Energy

 

MY FIELD, MY PLACE

See me close my eyes
Watch me dream
See the green grass
See the green field

Watch the birds fly about
Watch the wind blow the clouds
See the burning sun
See the ant walk along the ground
See the boundary between me and the world

See the rain pour down
Watch me dance in the rain
Watch me get drenched
And yet I’m dry
See me open my eyes

— Greg Nelson, gr 6

SECRET

The way I get to my secret bedroom
is through a passage in my mind.
My secret bedroom that unlocks my world
sits there waiting for me.
My bed I can leap into
without messing up my covers,
my things.
A place I can go to sort out my feelings,
a place I know won’t leave my side,
a place that’s always there
through a passage in my mind.

— Crystal Breezee, gr 6

MY SPECIAL WHISPERING BUSHES

In the whispering bushes
I talk to myself,
I sing a song until the winds come and join,
I hide behind the whispering bushes,
and in the bushes a gate
opens in and out with a special key.
To open the gate,
you’ll have to use your mind.

I sing another song
when the light shines on me,
when daylight chills out
I’ll kiss this place good-bye.

In the whispering bushes
in and out I think for a little while,
In the whispering bushes
you talk to yourself,
sing a song until the winds come and join,
Soon you will be
In the whispering bushes.

— Ai Xiong, gr 6

 

DREAMING PLACE

Come inside my dreaming place,
my dreaming place, my dreaming place,
come inside my dreaming place,
my dreams I’ll share with you.

Come inside my dreaming place,
there are lots of things to do.
There are girls dancing in the sky,
we have wings. Do you know why?

Everything you wish for will come true,
everything is special just for you.
There’s a big lake where we can swim.
(There goes a boy diving.) Wow! Look at him!

There are unicorns you can ride,
or jump in a tree where you can hide.
You’ll laugh all day with the games we play.
When it’s time for bed
we watch TV instead.

So never say never, because we live forever.
Now welcome to my dreaming place,
my dreaming place, my dreaming place,
welcome to my dreaming place,
my dreams I’ll share with you.

— Bianca Simms , gr 6

THE NIGHT FOREST

I jump out my window and slide
under the old pine tree.
Just me and my pen
and paint and canvas,
and I draw until I am sleepy.

I head for the tree house
on the tallest and largest tree
of the forest,
take a glance at the mountains
behind the forest,
playing with the pink sky
and white clouds.

I pick up my canvas and draw me
riding on one of the clouds
until I fall asleep.
I dream of my family
riding with me on a cloud.

I wake up just in time
to head back to my bedroom.
I will be back, but for now
the gates of the Night Forest are closed.

—Tereance Jamile Reams Walker, gr 6


DOWN THE HILL

A special place to me.
Nobody else sees it.
Nobody knows it
and nobody cares about it.
They see a park
but I see my special place.
When I bounce the ball
the echo shoots out all around me.
When it’s raining
the drops splash off me—
all wet but don’t care—
I’m in my special place.
When it’s cold
my hands go numb.
my feet cold, and I’m tired.

That doesn’t matter,
I’m in my special place
When I bounce the ball
the echo shoots out all around me.
It’s right down the hill,
Every day.

— Kim Nelson, gr 8

THE PLACE I’LL NEVER FORGET

The creek that gives me happiness
with water trickling down the rocks,
the plopping of wet mud,
many thorns and bushes scratch my legs,
small rocks that can cut your feet
without shoes on,
a creek I read in and splash around in,
the misty air with birds of all sorts
to chirp and breathe it,
the creek that wipes away my sorrow,
the place I’ll never forget,
the creek I spat in three times.

— Liz James, gr 5


ENCHANTMENT

Tall green grass blowing in wind,
Daffodils and daisies that smile,
Clouds like lambs,
Puffs of wind with the enchanting smell
of flowers that sweep worry away:
You can dance with a deer,
Fly with an eagle,
Swim with a fish,
Sing with a canary,
All the animals are your friends.

You can only go there
When you hit the bottom
of your ocean of worry.

The world floats you up slowly…
The dark of reality fades away,
The light of dreams shines
And you are swimming in light!

All of the sudden you are shot back
through a small tunnel—
Bright on the dream side,
Dark on reality.

— Abby Williams, 8


IMAGINE

I would be on the hill behind my house
lying in cold wet grass,
in the shadow of a small elm

Gazing up at the sky,
staring at a white bunny…
then, a turtle…no wait,
a horse that was galloping!

Then many different animals
were floating and dancing,
the descending sun calling them to it,
my eyes amazed at this exhibition.

I could float up, touch and feel them,
their white furry bodies, soft and warm.

All of them my best friends forever.
Now the friends I loved are gone,
they all look like clouds,
just clouds.
I made new friends,
but I don’t think they can replace
my white and dancing old ones.

— Zach Job, 8

MY PLACE

I scout around.
No one’s there,
so I tiptoe to my secret spot
under the old pine tree.
It’s quiet,
no one’s here,
so I slide down to the basement
of my private little world
and I sit,
looking up at the baby blue sky.
In my tiny house
I crawl to my pretend shed
in the basement and gather
kindling for my pretend fire.
Then I fetch pinecones from
underneath the white ocean of snow,
drag it all back to the top
and lay it all out,
toss pinecones into the imaginary fire.
I sit down in my rock chair
and smell
the cool night’s air
and the old pine tree, and think
I am where no one can see me
beneath the matted down branches
of the great pine,
and this is my place,
my place in the world.

— Erin Troutfetter, gr 5