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Learning Activity

Praise to What is Precious

 

Art Form
Poetry, essay/memoir, or drawing/painting
Multi-Disciplines
writing,
Grade Levels
2-8
You will need:
journals, post-it notes
Time One hour

Overview

Making an inventory of what we personally regard as of great worth or ‘precious’ is a way of discovering the sources of our emotion-based energy. Students will inventory what they regard as precious on Post-Its, then assemble them into a sequence, arrange them into a pleasing rhythm, then enter the finished poem into their Journals.

The Activity

Everyone values things—experiences, persons, places, relationships, animals, objects. The things we greatly value are sources of energy for our spirits and minds. Many of the things we value are natural things (aspects of nature), such as sunsets, rainbows, trees, blue skies, breezes, rivers, lakes, ocean, dogs & cats & dolphins, butterflies, fallen leaves, snow and on and on.

One effective way to create a poem is to make a list. Post-It notes allow students to re-arrange the words of the poem over and over without re-writing. They will learn ordering skills.

The Process

(1) Generating Material:
Each student is given 10 (or so) Post-Its. Their goal is to write a personal poem of praise.

On these notes--one at a time--they are to write down one to five words which name or describe things that are precious to them. Tell them they will have ten minutes for this first part--generating words and phrases.

As each item is written on each note, it is removed from the tablet and placed on the desk.

An effective item (note) will usually include some descriptive detail—

• "waterfalls in sunlight” is stronger than "waterfalls."
• “Smooth stones” may be better than “rocks.”
• “Her dancing eyes” is better than “my girlfriend’s eyes.”

Sometimes single word notes are fine--they can be added-to during the next phase, if the writer chooses.

Crucial: One item per note. Read the class the student example poems so they will get an idea of how simple this process and poem can be. Suggest that it can be effective to have a mixture of one or two word notes and slightly longer notes.

Point out that they can include fragrances, tastes, textures and sounds as well as things they can see There are no wrong items. Stop the entire class after 10 minutes or so.

Caution: Do not limit students to items from nature. That will wreck it.
Once they hear or read the sample poems in their Student Source Sheet, they are likely to go in that direction--and it's great to mix the human in with nature.

(2) Arranging Material: 10 minutes
Tell students their task now is to arrange their post-its, however many they have done, into a poem. Arrange the Post-Its vertically rather than on a horizontal line. Tell them they will have 10 minutes.

They can stick them on their desks, or on glass, wherever the adhesive will hold well.

Tell them that the main way to turn a pile of Post-its into a poem is to make the rhythm flow. Use those words.

That means that everyone—everyone!—has to say their notes out loud, to themselves, as they go through the arranging process. Poetry, remind them, is an out-loud art form which uses rhythm just as music does.

Sequence of Arranging

First pick the best ending, stick it down, then choose the best beginning, then the notes in between. Every time students get an arrangement they like, they read it aloud to see if it is as smooth flowing as they can make it. They may have to rearrange the order of words on the notes as well as rearrange the notes. Give 10 minutes.

Rules:

• It is OK to add descriptive words to the notes.
• It is OK to add 'linking' words so notes flow together.
• It is OK to write new notes if you think of new items to include.

For example, the girl who wrote The Rhythm of Praise first wrote on one post-it, “eggshells.” Asked to say what kinds of eggshells, she wrote down, “small bird eggshells like robins.” Saying that aloud didn’t please her ear, so she rearranged it and shortened it to “the eggshells of small birds,” which is how it appears in the poem.


Final Assembly: Ask students to pick one note to use more than once, make a copy, and insert the copy in the poem. Repetition is a basic aspect of poetry.
“Paste-up” the poem in its final form.

Share aloud.


Enter the final poem in journals.

Variation

After making the poem, do quick sketches of the precious thing in each line.

Rationale

Students will be introduced to the concept that materials they create can be arranged in many ways to reach their most effective presentation. Ordering skills are among the least taught, but are among the most essential.

Student Source Sheet: say these out loud

The Rhythm of Praise

Bones
Shells
Pebbles
Marbles
Bottle caps
Oak leaves
Feathers
The eggshells of small birds
The smell of a flowered meadow
Snowflakes
Clear rocks
Sun
Stars
The Man in the Moon
Summer night
Fireflies
Fireflies

—Shannon Perrie, gr 6

Precious

Leaves touching my face
sand between my toes
rabbits in the meadow
a rushing stream
A cricket chirping night

—Heather Larson, gr. 4

The Beauty

A frog singing by a pond,
small birds in a nest,
Looking into the woods,
Shining stars in a night sky,
Sunshine moving on a stream,
A comet in night sky,
Sitting in a boat looking into the water,
Stroking a smooth rock,
Rose bushes in a garden,
The beauty of a daisy,
The Beauty…

--Katie Hovey, gr. 4

 

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