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



Pumpkin Patch

October 22, 2011

Patty’s Pumpkin Patch by Teri Sloat is a hybrid text full of fun for the autumn season. I happened upon an early childhood website with class activity possibilities.

The text is written in a two-lined rhyme, describing the beauty of the fall season. Along the bottom of the pages, the alphabet is featured with upper and lower case letters. Between the letters is a zoomed in illustration featuring an animal or insect found in nature. A Junco, Pheasant, and a Vixen are a few examples. Your students could create an alphabet book about Autumn. The text lends itself to connecting with a natural science lesson.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Patty’s Pumpkin Patch:

  • Class Book – alphabet structure
  • Poetry
  • Science connection – insects, birds, animals
  • Agricultural setting – every day happenings for those living in a rural setting
  • Timeline – spring to fall


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

Puppy Poetry

March 11, 2011

I Didn't Do It

I believe the adorable Dachshund on the front cover reeled in my attention.  Oh the puppy dog eyes are so charming, just staring at you, wanting you to pet him.  Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan created rich poetry that is  fun.  Katy Schneider’s illustrations are luscious.  I found myself petting the pictures; the puppies are so adorable!!Amazon's Complete Selection of Patricia MacLachlan Books

Students of all ages will enjoy reading this book, I Didn’t Do It.  The title itself will entice your children.  I can hear them now, “Who did it?  What did they do?”  Your students will be surprised when you show them the cover and they see a dog – not a kid.  This book is one that I want for my collection.

Savorings for reading and in writing for I Didn’t Do It:

  • Repeating line poem
  • Alliteration
  • List poem
  • Vivid verbs
  • Class book idea – young children can connect to the simplistic, yet crafted, poems.  Each student could write about their dog or pet and make a class book.  You could use it at the beginning of the year to help your children get to know each other more.

The Turning of the Year

January 2, 2010

Bill Martin Jr. is an author who brings rhythm and rhyme to the his writing.The Turning of the Year  Although this text, The Turning of the Year, is short, the words are rich.  It was like savoring each bite of Turtle Cheesecake.  The text takes you through each month of the year – with only two lines per page. 

Greg Shed, the illustrator, infers so much more with his illustrations.  One painted page shows a scene from a typical day.  On the text page, Greg scatters items that represent other activities.  These clues lift the level of comprehension, especially for younger children.

Savorings in reading and in writing for The Turning of the Year:

  • Context Clues – rich vocabulary
  • Class book idea – your students could create a page about activities happening each month for the school year
  • Repeating Structure – each month has activities
  • Personification – “earth fashions green
  • Inferring

Warsaw Public Library book

The Library Doors

November 8, 2009

This book is a great introductory book to the library for preschool to second grade.  Toni Buzzeo uses the familiar tune of “The Wheels on the Bus” for the structure of the text in her book, The Library Doors. (Have you ever tried using that as a class book idea?)  This is a great upper elementary text to give readers a structure to make their own books or books for younger readers.The Library Doors

Children will be able to interact with the text in many ways.  The text shares information on how to search for books, use library markers, and even the updated scan to check books out.  Included with the book, Toni Buzzeo has an eight page Library lesson booklet for additional extension lesson.  I particularly like the hand/finger plays that go along with the text.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Library:

  • Verbs – search, click, hold
  • Onomatopoeia – shh, tickety tick
  • Class book for procedures  – you could use the structure of the text to create a book about procedures in class
  • Hybrid – poetic, informational
  • Sequential

Just OK

August 26, 2009

The title of the book caught my eye – The OK Book.  In my pressured days, I often feel like I have to be master of all and yet I know that I am just OK at many things.  Well, OK is just fine; it’s just OK.  Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld have teamed together to create this delightful book about being average, OK, and feeling good about it.

The character in the book is a stick figure created The OK Bookwith the circular O and the K turned sideways underneath it.

The character talks to you and explains that it likes “to try a lot of different things.”  It proceeds to say it enjoys it even though it’s not a master of them all.

I shared this book with a fourth grade class this past week.  A sense of “I’m OK” spread across their faces.  We have just started school, and the book put them at ease as I shared how being just okay was fine.  We were going to work at subjects and skills.  Some they would be better at than others, just like in the book.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The OK Book:

  • Pattern Book – each page shares some that the character is OK at
  • Class Book activity – everyone could make their own OK page and compile them
  • Voice – the character talks to the reader
  • Synthesis
  • Community building

(Warsaw Public Library)