Old Elm Speaks: Tree Poems

April 12, 2018

Observing nature quiets a soul and calms our fast-paced lives. Children need time to process their learning, time to explore and think.

Old Elm Speaks, by Kristine O’Connell George, invites you to interact with the world around you. Trees have personalities and beckon us to tell a story. Can you hear the stories the stories they can write? Climbing. Tree houses. Mushroom hunting. On her website, Kristine O’Connell George shares some writing and science activities that go along with this book. Other poetry ideas are on her website as well.  Celebrate Poetry Month by including these poems that will connect with children’s hearts. Take a nature walk around the school and notice nature. What tree speaks to you?


Ordinary yet unique.

Inaudible yet whispering.


by MHGensch

Savorings for Old Elm Speaks Tree Poems:

  • Personification
  • Everyday life – gathering stories/ poetry from around us
  • Figurative Language – “a tiny velveteen satchel
  • Description – using comparisons, figurative language, rich language
  • Science Link
  • Class book idea – create a photo book of trees with the students’ poems, memories



C is for Coffee, Camo, and Connecting {Celebrate}

November 16, 2013

A is for Autumn by Robert Maass I caught my eye this week. I love the brilliant pictures illustrating the beauty around us this autumn season. This book is a good mentor text for a photo book  project in a content area. It makes me think of Instagram in a book form, pictures with captions, especially with technology so prevalent in our schools.Image result for a is for autumn by robert maass

(I love linking my thoughts with books. Here is a short, 1 minute 35 second video clip featuring the book. Very delightful!)

Yesterday, I kept thinking of the theme ‘T is for Tree’ for the 5 Minute Friday post. This morning, ‘C is for Celebrating’ began swirling in my mind while driving for an early morning basketball event. (Getting up at 4:45 a.m. on a Saturday morning should be banned. :))

C is for …

Coffee with peppermint mocha. Delicious! I have “candy coffee,” my husband’s endearing term, to waken my senses.

Carpooling basketball teens and sharing the responsibility with a fellow mom. Love saving time and gas (and hearing their stories)!

Caring and listening to first graders tell about a lost tooth, a new puppy, and playing in the leaves.

Cuddling cat laying on my lap while holding my husband’s hand  watching a TV show, hearing him say he will never give up on us.

Camo basketball shirt, a soft fit for Tim’s sensitive skin, a symbol of belonging, a commitment to teamwork.

Connecting on blogs, refreshed and ignited from stories, poems, and slices shared.

Capturing the moment, being alert to the wonders swirling around us, pausing to listen to my child’s tale, reliving the pleasure through the written word.

C is for celebrating with you!

Capturing moments throughout the week that make you smile. Share a celebration at www.ruthayreswrites.com.

Capturing moments throughout the week that make you smile. Share a celebration at http://www.ruthayreswrites.com.

SOLC: I am the Cottage

July 23, 2013

The lake view refreshes us. Sitting on the porch, we share, laugh, and relax.

The highlight of the summer for our writing group is meeting at Tammy’s lake cottage. The view is splendid and the company is delightful! Tammy and her husband, Rex, have worked hard on the property, taking a shack hidden by foliage to a quaint cabin.

The welcoming cottage, the away place.

The welcoming cottage, the away place.

We arrived Friday afternoon, chattering about our recent family events. We relaxed on the porch, looking at pictures of the Italy trip, and gathering writing ideas. Ruth, who had an unexpected event, was not able to attend. This distance did not stop her from sharing in our writing lives (and laughter).

With writing pressing upon our minds, we sat as a group and brainstormed a poem – a poem about the cottage we love. After listing ideas on the side of the page, phrases and sentences emerged in the notebook.  A poem was crafted.

The BONS are around the table, adding ideas, sparking rhythms and choice words.

The BONS are around the table, adding ideas, sparking rhythms and choice words.

I Am the Cottage

I wait for them to come…

…footsteps approaching, cares freeing as they step through the door.

I am the place away.

I hold laughter, stories, and friendship. The BONS reunite, sharing bits of life.

I feed their stomachs and souls. Pork burgers and onion-potatoes sizzling on the grill.

I am the place away.

I watch the pontoon cruise. The sunset silhouettes against the rippling water.

I am the place to dream. Wrapping them in wood-warm walls, they slip into sleep.

I am the place away.

I rouse each gently with scents of bacon, blueberry pancakes and coffee. Early light through the windows shine, pulling them back outside.

I am the cottage…

another day is beginning!

We signed our names from our spot around the kitchen table.

We signed our names from our spot around the kitchen table.

Composed by Ruth Metcalfe, Tammy Shultz, Tam Hess, Mary Helen Gensch, and nudgings from Ruth Ayres 🙂

The draft of the poem with revisions and the list of ideas on the side.

The draft of the poem with revisions and the list of ideas on the side.


Mysteries in Nature Concealed and Revealed

April 3, 2013

Dear Reader,

This book, What is in the Wild? Mysteries of Nature Concealed and Revealed, caught my eye just reading the introduction of the author and illustrator.

ear-tickling poems by David M. Schwartz and Yael Schy

eye-tricking photos by Dwight Kuhn

How cool is that? Each living organism introduced encourages you to investigate. I’m not crazy about science, but they are very creative. Kids will love this book. Formations, patterns on the ground and in plants are zoomed in for examination. A full page close-up photograph reveals a mystery. A companion poem shares clues of its creatures.

It gets better. The photo page folds out to reveal another zoomed-in picture of an animal or insect accompanied by its adjacent information page. I really don’t like to get up-close and personal with any small, insect-like creature. It sends shivers down my spine. But, I am thinking of some kids right now who would have their nose buried in this book, reading and discovering. They’ll be tricked into learning something new.

Have fun with this one. I can visualize using this book as a great read aloud. I’m always looking for short texts that can be sandwiched into short time frames, like waiting in line for a specials class, a few minutes before leaving. How about an attention grabber in the middle of the day? You could read just one of the pages and it would hook them in. Think of the many possibilities there is.

Happy science sleuthing!


Savorings for reading and in writing for What is in the Wild?

  • Hybrid text
  • Riddle and word choice
  • Grabber Leads
  • Shape poems
  • Informational text – great for close reading

PES new book

(Side note: Tammy, I think I want to share this book at Summer Institute. It’s a keeper.)

SOLSC: Reflections

March 31, 2012

SOLSC has been a wonderful experience of learning with others. My notebook is filled with entry ideas gained from you and noted stories I want to remember. I have encouraged new slicers, formed connections, and strengthened ones I’ve known before.

My belief in myself as a writer has increased! I have taken risks in playing with words and have been pleasantly surprised with people’s comments. Thank you. My writing is developing and revising is becoming more of a delight rather than a challenge. It has been fun commenting, encouraging as I have been encouraged. Reading, commenting, and growing with you has been a joy!

As evidence of my growth, I played with words this morning, relaxing in the moment as I tried to do what was modeled for me. You see, your posts are modeled craft for me to savor, learn, and try. Today, I would like to honor Elsie at Elsie Tries Writing and the way her post yesterday inspired me to try something new.  Elsie “squeezed a poem from a single word“, so I tried it with the word ‘Reflections’ on this last day of the SOLSC. Blessings to you all as you learn, connect, and grow as writers. Slice on!


Core of SOLSC

Reflect on letters seen

Lists of notes,


Fills inner tier!



Slice on!

SOLSC: Spring is Anew

March 30, 2012

Spring is here and the trees,

bushes are flowering.

Colors burst brilliantly

Nature seems to be creating an orchestra

of uplifting music.

Morning greetings mix

bird flutterings.

Sunshine waves down

kissing the air with warmth.

Spring is anew!

***I subscribe to Your Daily Poem to increase my like of poetry. Poets amaze me with the craft of words, the rhythm and snapshots with deep meaning. This week, a beautiful poem by William Wadsworth was shared called Written in March. It captures Spring so delightfully.

SOLSC: Sunrise

March 12, 2012

Driving down the road,

I couldn’t help notice

the beauty spread before me.

The sky was brushed with pinks,

bubble gum, magenta swirled together.

White clouds pillowed above with

a silhouette of trees awakening in the light.

The beauty of the morning refreshed my soul,

lifted my spirits, and reminded me to notice.

Small Poetry

November 12, 2011

Jaime Adoff collection of poems focus on the theme of being small in Small Fry. His perspective gives you a glimpse of trials and triumphs being short can be. I envision these poems will ignite conversations within your classroom and poem sharing their wishes.  Mike Reed illustrations the feels inlaid in the text. View an interview with Jaime Adoff as he talks about the influences his parents, Virginia Hamilton and Arnold Adoff, had on him as a writer.

  • No Fun Allowed focuses on not being tall enough for an amusement ride.
  • Cool Fun Fort Forever shines on the imaginative play young children can have.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Small Fry:

  • Narrative-like poems
  • Kid Voice
  • Varied types of poems – long skinny, stanzas, questions, short, conversational
  • Connections
  • Everyday Happenings

Halloween Howls

October 31, 2011

Holiday celebrations invite poetry creations and shares. Lee Bennett Hopkins selected several poems around the Halloween theme in Halloween Howls Holiday Poetry. During the fall season, it is fun to read short poems to catch your students’ attention.

A table of contents is featured at the beginning of the book with correlating page numbers. What a fun way to introduce this concept used in chapter and reference books.

Rebecca Kai Dotlich pens the poem Costume Hour. Children will relate to dressing up and imagining themselves as a fantasy character.

Sweet Tooth by Candace Pearson describes candy corn. After reading this poem, you could ask your students to write about their favorite candy, a snapshot of eating or making something delicious.

Use your imagination and have fun with poetry.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Halloween Howls:

  • Questions
  • Sensory Description
  • Visualizing
  • Memories
  • Making Connections

Who Swallowed Harold?

July 9, 2011

Tammy and I featured this book, Who Swallowed Harold? and Other Poems about Pets,  at the AllWrite!!! Summer Institute in June. I love this poetry book! There is a poem that everyone can relate too and such a great mentor text for kids. Susan Pearson relates to a child’s heart.

The book begins with a table of contents for the eighteen poems featured. The pages are numbered in the book, which provides a quick reference. The theme of the book is pets, so you could create a class poetry book with a collection of their pet poems.

A variety of poems are featured from a two liner (pg. 26) to a longer, narrative type poem (p. 28). Humor is sprinkled in, enticing your students to try poetry writing. One poem is a list called A Ferret’s Morning (p. 25), listing one fun activity after another. The use of questions (p.12) engages the reader to think and wonder about the creatures in water.

Have fun reading these poems to your students. It’s a poetry book I will be looking to have for my classroom collection.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Who Swallowed Harold?:

  • Table of Contents
  • Class book
  • Everyday happenings
  • Conventions – variety of punctuation to focus on for a unit of study or mentor sentences