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A teacher educator discusses children's literature and issues related to teaching children and their future teachers.
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1. Monday Poetry Stretch - English Madrigal

I know that this is a holiday week, but this seemed like a good time to write a madrigal.

The English Madrigal is a 13 line poem written as a tercet, quatrain, and sextain. The lines of the tercet serve as refrains. The English madrigal is written in iambic pentameter and is rhymed. Here is the form.

1 A
2 B1
3 B2

4 a
5 b
6 repeat line 1 (A)
7 repeat line 2 (B1)

8 a
9 b
10 b
11 repeat line 1 (A)
12 repeat line 2 (B1)
13 repeat line 3 (B2)

You can read more about the madrigal form at Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides and Poetry Magnum Opus.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing an English madrigal. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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2. Poetry Friday is My November Guest

Welcome poetry lovers! I'm happy to be hosting Poetry Friday this week. Many of my blogging friends are in Minnesota at the NCTE conference. I hope they'll be sharing goodies with us this day.

Today I am sharing my favorite poet for fall, Robert Frost. "My November Guest" was first published in the November 1912 issue of The Forum, and later was collected in his first volume, A Boy's Will, published in 1915.

My November Guest
by Robert Frost
(Text from Bartleby)

My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
  Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
  She walks the sodden pasture lane.      

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
  She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted gray
  Is silver now with clinging mist.      

The desolate, deserted trees,
  The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
  And vexes me for reason why.      

Not yesterday I learned to know
  The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
  And they are better for her praise.      

I hope you'll help me celebrate poetry this week by joining in the round-up and visiting other folks sharing their thoughts. I'm and old-school style host, so please leave a note with a link to your offering in the comments. Happy poetry Friday all!


Original Poetry 
Laura Purdie Salas shares a poetry sampler and an original poem entitled Soap Bubbles.

Diane Mayr of Random Noodling shares a "not-so-celebratory" (her words, not mine!) Thanksgiving poem entitled Thinking of Thanksgiving.

Brenda Davis Harsham of Friendly Fairy Tales shares a poem entitled Season of Thanks.

Poetry of Others
Michelle Heidenrich Barnes of Today's Little Ditty is featuring Cristina-Monica Moldoveanu in the Haiku Garden.

Robyn Hood Black of Life on the Deckle Edge features Becca McCauley of The Paideia School in Atlanta and shares a peek into her personal exploration of haiku and how she's using it with her students.

Over at Kurious Kitty's Kurio Kabinet, Diane Mayr is sharing a poem about Pilgrims from an old holiday anthology.

Lyrics as Poetry
Laura Shovan of Author Amok shares a book review and connects it to song lyrics from a musical.

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3. For Poetry Friday Early Birds

Hello all you early birds! My Poetry Friday post is ready to go live at midnight EST. If you want to leave your link in advance, feel free to comment here.

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4. On Making and Using Book Lists - Considering A Recent Mighty Girl Book List

This blog recently celebrated its 9th anniversary. In nine years I've learned a lot about children's literature that I didn't know going in. I've also met, virtually and in person, a great number of very smart folks who review and share books with kids of all ages from all kinds of backgrounds.

I mention this background because I don't jump lightly into conversations that are uncomfortable and that point out shortcomings in books that have received praise elsewhere. Case in point, the recent Mighty Girl book list Celebrating Native American & Aboriginal Mighty Girls for Native American Heritage Month. While there are very positive books on this list, books that show a range of Native American identities and experiences, there are also books that perpetuate ugly stereotypes and misconceptions.

I don't consider myself an expert in this area, but I listen and try to learn. I spend time in my methods course reviewing books with students to help them understand that as both windows and mirrors to lived experience, books must accurately reflect social identities. We read An Updated Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children's Books by Louise Derman-Sparks and How to Tell the Difference: A Guide to Evaluating Children's Books for Anti-Indian Bias by Beverly Slapin, Doris Seale and Rosemary Gonzales. I send them to read blogs such as American Indians in Children's Literature, a blog written by Debbie Reese that reviews and critiques children's and young adult books about native peoples,  De Colores: The Raza Experience in Books for Children, a group blog that reviews and critique children's and young adult books about Raza peoples throughout the Diaspora, The Brown Bookshelf, a blog designed to push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers, and others.

I have written a fair number of thematic booklists since the birth of this blog, though they all fall along the lines of science, math, and poetry. I am always excited to find lists written by others, hoping they will help me and my students find the best books for use in the classroom. I was excited to see the latest post from A Mighty Girl show up in my feed, but was disappointed when I looked critically at the list.

In order to move conversations forward about diversity in children's literature, we must be willing to listen to the voices from underrepresented groups when they tell us we're getting it wrong. We must be willing to set aside "classics" and old favorites when the information they present is inaccurate. Nowhere is this more problematic than when faced with a book sporting a Newbery,  Caldecott, or Printz sticker.

I so wanted to leave this feedback for the author of the list, Katherine Handcock, at the Mighty Girl site, but couldn't find a mechanism to do that. I appreciate all that A Mighty Girl does to empower girls and affirm their place in this world. However, this list contains titles that contain stereotypes and inaccuracies that could actually be harmful and less than empowering. I hope everyone who visits will read this list with a critical eye. Stop by American Indians in Children's Literature and check out some of the reviews Debbie Reese has posted or linked to for books on the list she does NOT recommend, such as Julie of the WolvesIsland of the Blue Dolphins, and Mama Do You Love Me?. While you are there, check out Debbie's list of Best Books.

I hope the folks at A Mighty Girl will reconsider this list and think about replacing some of these titles with books that will truly empower Native American & Aboriginal mighty girls.

For more on this, read Debbie Reese's letter to Katherine Handcock.

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5. Monday Poetry Stretch - Terzanelle

What do you get when you cross a terza rima and a villanelle? The answer is a poetic form called a terzanelle.

A terzanelle uses the villanelle’s form of five triplets and a quatrain with the interlocking rhyme scheme of the terza rima.

Here is the line pattern and rhyme scheme.

1 a1
2 b1
3 a2

4 b2
5 c1
6 repeat line 2

7 c2
8 d1
9 repeat line 5

10 d2
11 e1
12 repeat line 8

13 e2
14 f1
15 repeat line 11

16 f2
17 repeat line 1
18 repeat line 14
19 repeat line 3

You can read more about the terzanelle at Form and Formlessness.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a terzanelle. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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6. Poetry Stretch - Rhopalic Verse

In the book Fly With Poetry: An ABC of Poetry, written and illustrated by Avis Harley, you'll find descriptions and examples of many different poetic forms. This week I want to try rhopalic verse. Here's how Avis defines it.

Rhopalic Verse: (from Greek "rhopalon"--a club which is thicker at one end)
Lines in which each successive word has one syllable more than the one before it.
Here is an example.

Small spiders filigree
the garden greenery
with silken precision. Delicately, definitively,
they network tapestries
that capture
than morning's glorious

Poem ©Avis Harley. All rights reserved.
I hope you'll join me this week in writing a rhopalic verse. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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7. Poetry Seven Write Ekphrastic Poems

Our year-long journey of writing poems together is coming close to the end. It’s hard to believe we’ve been at this for 11 months. I take full responsibility for changing this month’s form from epistle to ekphrastic, but am not remotely connected to the choice of image. I’ll blame Tanita and my sisters for that one. Here it is.

I try to take a very “in the moment” approach to writing ekphrastic poems. I don’t study the images for too long. I look closely for a moment and then write a list of the thoughts that come to mind upon first glance. Usually what emerges is a very odd collection of ideas. Here’s the list that came from first glance at what my sisters called the goddess.
  • the glass ceiling
  • caged women
  • corsets
  • a bird in a gilded cage (cue Tweety bird swinging and singing “I’m a tweet little bird in a gilded cage. Tweety’s my name but I don’t know my age. …)
  • crouching tiger, hidden dragon
  • woman warrior 
  • The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus (Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,/With conquering limbs astride from land to land;/Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand/A mighty woman)
  • the trappings of womanhood
  • paper doll
As you can see, this list is quite random, but starting in this way always sets the wheels turning in my brain. In the end I wrote a number of different poems in different forms, but this is the one that took hold and stuck with me.

Sonnet for a Kept Woman

You cannot hold my soul it won’t be bound
Inside a cage I heed sweet freedom’s call
Throw back my head and cry a mournful sound
Though trapped by ceiling, floor, unyielding walls

How to break free when others box me in
Is what I ask myself each day anew
I fight the battles, though I rarely win
But onward push to change your point of view

The corset of the past constricts me still
In places where I dare not dream to go
And yet I breathe and move against its will
Refuse to be sucked in its undertow

Someday the chains you’ve put me in I’ll break
And standing tall I’ll leave you in my wake

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2015. All rights reserved.

Today is a particularly fortuitous day to be sharing poems with these ladies, as today The Miss Rumphius Effect celebrates its 9th anniversary. Without this blog I never would have waded boldly into the writing pool with these amazing women. I'm so grateful to have found them through this medium. You can read the poems written by my Poetry Seven compatriots at the links below. 

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Katya at Write.Sketch.Repeat. Thanks to all of you who stop by to read, write poetry, and share in the love of children's literature. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

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8. Miss Rumphius is 9 Today

On November 6, 2006 (that was 9 years ago!), I launched this blog. At that time I was still teaching a course on technology in the classroom and was looking to expand my work with students. I've come a LONG way since I started my first web site in the spring of 1995—yes, you read that correctly. Back then my web pages were all written in HTML. Now this web stuff is so much easier.

Today I am so grateful for all the wonderful people I've connected with through this blog, many of whom I've had the pleasure of meeting in real life. This is an amazing community that I love being a part of. Here are some of the reasons why I am so fond of this little corner of the web.
  • It is a great place for sharing a love of books with like-minded folks.
  • Smart, talented, BUSY authors and illustrators take precious time from their days to e-mail thank you notes and kinds words for reviewing their books.
  • Folks who read my stuff and find it informative or interesting highlight my posts on their blogs. (Thanks to you generous people who do this.)
  • Thoughtful readers who know my blog send me links to articles they know will interest me. Likewise, I can write to others and say "I saw this and was thinking of you."
  • Out of the blue I sometimes receive packages in the mail containing new books to review or signed copies from authors.
  • Generous bloggers hold contests and when you win, they send you things! How cool is that?
  • Authors invite you to join blog tours of their books and are happy to participate and share their themselves and their work with the world.
  • A group of amazing writers brought me into their circle many years ago and we are still writing together. 
  • Generous poets often send me original poems and new poetic forms to debut on the blog.
  • The Cybils. I've been so honored to serve as a judge numerous times in the categories of nonfiction picture books and poetry.
I could go on about all the reasons I love blogging and the kidlitosphere. On this, my very happy blogiversary, I want to thank you, my readers and friends, from the bottom of my heart. I'm so grateful every time you stop by.

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9. Monday Poetry Stretch - Rictameter

Created in 1990 by two cousins, rictameter is a nine line poetry form in which the 1st and last lines are the same. The syllable count is 2/4/6/8/10/8/6/4/2.

You can learn more about this relatively young form at Wikipedia, or read some examples at Shadow Poetry.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a poem in the form of rictameter. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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10. Poetry Friday - Poems Children Will Sit Still For

I recently picked up this 1969 publication ...

I had to laugh when I read the back cover, though I wholeheartedly agree with the sentence I've highlighted.
When a favorite aunt is reading to her favorite nephew (and she has her arm around him) she can read Shakespeare's sonnets or Milton's epic verse or T.S. eliot's Wasteland and still hold - if not the child's attention, as the leas the child himself. 
In the classroom, as every teacher knows, it's different. Each of the 106 poems in this this book was chosen with this difference in mind. They were chosen expressly for a teacher to read aloud to -- and with -- her class. Every selection invites the listeners' participation -- vocal, physical, or emotional. 
The selections cover an extensive range of primary-grade children's interests and experiences. There is plenty of nonsense and humor, and there are some sad poems too. 
For many of the poems, we have offered a few suggestions for reading, of for audience participation, or for possible discussion. But it is well to remember that a poem doesn't have to lead to discussion , or art activities, or anything at all. A poem can simply be enjoyed for its own sake. We hope this little book will help you transmit to your boys and girls the joy of poetry.
This text is actually excerpted from the introduction to the book. There are a few additional sentences, some of them about how to actually read a poem. But I thought this one was most interesting.
The only rule we would like to insist upon is: If you don't like a poem, don't read it. (Enthusiasm and boredom are equally contagious.)
When I read a poem and at first glance (or listen) don't like it, I actually re-read it, multiple times. I want to know what doesn't work for me. Why don't I like it? It becomes a puzzle I need to figure out. Is it the rhyme? Or meter? Is it the subject?

This book is divided into the sections (1) Fun With Rhymes; (2) Mostly Weather; (3) Spooky Poems; (4) Story Time; (5) Mostly Animals; (6) Mostly People; (7) Seeing, Feeling, Thinking; (8) In a Few Words; (9) Mostly Nonsense; and (10) Numbers and Letters. I will admit I found it odd the Frost's poem Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening was in the Spooky poems sections!

I suppose I decided I needed this one because it contained Sanburg's Arithmetic, as well as poems by Mary Ann Hoberman, Karla Kuskin, John Ciardi, Eve Merriam, Myra Cohn Livingston, and others.

Today I'm sharing two poems in this book by Karla Kuskin, from the sections Spooky Poems and Mostly Nonsense.

Knitted Things
by Karla Kuskin

There was a witch who knitted things:
Elephants and playground swings.
She knitted rain,
She knitted night,
But nothing really came out right.
The elephants had just one tusk
And night looked more
Like dawn or dusk.

If I Were A . . . 
by Karla Kuskin

If I were a sandwich,
I'd sit on a plate
And think of my middle
Until someone ate
End of the sandwich.

Not sure these are worth sitting still for, but I enjoyed them.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Jama Rattigan at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

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11. Monday Poetry Stretch - Tritina

I'm working on an ekphrastic poem and have been playing around with a number of different forms as I write to the image. Right now I'm playing with the tritina.

Here are the nuts and bolts of the form.
10-line poem made of three, 3-line stanzas and a 1-line envoi

There is no rhyme scheme but rather an end word scheme. It is:



A, B, and C (all in the last line/envoi)
You can read more about the tritina at Poetic Asides.

So, the challenge for the week is to write a tritina. Won't you join me? Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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12. Poetry Stretch - Deibhidhe Variation

If orange is the new black, than Tuesday is the new Monday. My apologies for posting late. Here is this week's challenge.

Deibhidhe Guilbnech Dialtach is an Irish verse form written in quatrains. Here are the requirements.
  • lines are 7 syllables in length
  • rhyme scheme is a/a/b/b
  • end words should end in a consonant
  • each line has two alliterated words
  • poems can be any number of quatrains

You can read more about this form at Poetry Magnum Opus.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing this variation of the Deibhidhe. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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13. Poetry Stretch - The Bop

Forgive me for being a day late. I leave for a conference on Wednesday and I'm a bit at loose ends right now. 

The bop is a form invented by poet Afaa Michael Weaver.  Here are the requirements.
  • 3 stanzas, each followed by a repeated line or refrain
  • 1st stanza is 6 lines and states a problem
  • 2nd stanza is 8 lines and expands on the problem
  • 3rd stanza is 6 lines and resolves the problem (If a resolution cannot be found, the final stanza describes the failure to do so.)
You can read more about this form at poets.org and Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a bop. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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14. Poetry Seven Write Etherees

This month my poetry sisters and I tackled the etheree. An etheree is a poem of ten lines in which each line contains one more syllable than the last. Beginning with one syllable and ending with ten, this unrhymed form is named for its creator, 20th century American poet Etheree Taylor Armstrong.

Variant forms of the etheree include the reverse form, which begins with 10 syllables and ends with one. The double etheree is twenty lines, moving from one syllable to 10, and then from 10 back to one. (I suppose a double etheree could also move from 10 syllables to one, and then from one back to 10.)

I made the etheree the first poetry stretch for the month of September. I did this to avoid procrastination and to encourage myself to write early. How did I do? Terribly! I was still writing and rewriting in the wee hours before this post was scheduled to go live, in the hopes that something good would come out of the bits and pieces I was tinkering with. Early in the month the theme of relationships was bandied about, and that's when I really got stuck. It seemed to me that relationships required two poems, or at least a conversation. Alas, I couldn't seem to make this one work.

As I prepare this post I am reminded that we promised ourselves to write and share REGARDLESS of the state of the poems, knowing that much of the time they won't be perfect. That means today I am embracing imperfection and sharing the most polished pieces of the lot.

First up is a pair of poems I wrote about a dog and cat who share the same home. They are untitled.

Flea scratcher,
frisbee catcher,
king of the beggars …
you think you are special,
but our human loves me most!
With my playful pounce, tender touch,
intelligent and commanding ways …
look and see! No one can resist a cat.

Mouse chaser,
sun spot bather,
queen of aloofness …
you think you are all that,
but our human loves me most!
With my soulful eyes, thumping tail,
affectionate and faithful ways …
look and see! No one can resist a dog.

I also wrote numerous poems about my dog. I like this one best, as it's a true story.

Finding Cooper

watching humans
come and go. He waits
for one tender hearted
to heal, to love, to comfort
him. She falls in love at first sight,
knows without doubt that he is the one
who will save her. They rescue each other.

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2015. All rights reserved.

You can read the etherees written by my Poetry Seven compatriots at the links below. 

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

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15. Book Review - It's a Seashell Day

I'm a huge fan of books that encourage exploration of the natural world and getting kids outside. While summer has come to an end, that doesn't mean kids and families can't enjoy spending time at the beach, observing the wildlife and hunting for shells. A new book by Dianne Ochiltree can provide a perfect introduction to these activities.
It's a Seashell Day (2015), written by Dianne Ochiltree and illustrated by Elliot Kreloff, is the story of a mother and son's day at the beach. Written in rhyming couplets it begins this way:
When the sun peeks up over the bay,
Mommy tells me, "It's a seashell day!"
I rush down the path, over the dune.
Salty breeze blows. We'll be there soon!
Once they arrive at the beach, mother and son see gulls, find rocks, walk in the squishy sand, watch waves, dig for shells, compare shells, care for wildlife, and much more. Part celebration of nature, part counting book, and whole-hearted homage to families spending time together investigating, enjoying, and appreciating the world around them, Ochiltree has given readers a gem of a story. She has also provided a number of interesting facts about mollusks and seashells (12!) in the back matter.

The illustrations beautifully complement the text. If readers look carefully they will see the passage of time through the day as the sun moves through the sky, starting low, arcing across the sky, and sinking again into the horizon. The shells are clearly rendered and make counting along with the text easy to do.

For kids in preschool and early elementary grades, this book can be used to explore four of the five senses. What does the boy see at the beach? What might he hear? What does it smell like? What does the wet sand feel like? How is it different from the dry sand? What do the shells feel like? I would bring out a shell collection after reading the text and ask students to observe the samples. We would record observations and make scientific drawings.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the double-page spread that models respect for living things. Here's an excerpt.
My shell is tiny, a silvery pearl.
Mommy's is brown with a big, twirly curl.
"This shell is a home," Mommy tells me.
"Let's put it back to live in the sea."
Reminding readers that shells have diverse environmental functions, such as providing homes and hiding places for creatures, is an important one. 

There is much to love in this enchanting little book. I recommend it with enthusiasm.

Illustrator: Elliot Kreloff
Publisher: Blue Apple Books
Publication Date: July 2015
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: preK-2
ISBN: 978-1609055301
Source of Book: Review copy received from SoCal Public Relations.
More Info: Visit Blue Apple Books to look inside the book.

For teachers looking for additional resources to use this book to encourage beachcombing or the study of shells, these will be helpful.

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16. Monday Poetry Stretch - Bref Double

The bref double is a French form. It is similar to the sonnet, but has a different rhyme scheme and does not need to be written in iambic pentameter. This form contains three quatrains (four-line stanzas) followed by a final couplet.

It has three rhymes: a, b, and c. Five of the 14 lines are not part of the rhyme scheme. The c rhyme ends each quatrain. The a and b rhymes are found twice each somewhere within the three quatrains and once in the couplet.

Here are some sample rhyme schemes.
abxc abxc xxxc ab
xaxc xbxc xbac ba
xabc xaxc xbxc ab

You can learn more about this form at Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides and Poetry Magnum Opus.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a bref double. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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17. Math Storytelling Day and Doubling

Over at Bookish Ways today you'll find a post describing some books on math and puzzling in honor of Math Storytelling Day. After reviewing the entry once it posted, I realized I was missing an important set of stories. 

Have you seen or heard this old folktale?
This problem is one of the earliest mentions of Chess in puzzles. It was first suggested by the Arabic mathematician Ibn Kallikan who, in 1256, posed the problem of the grains of wheat, 1 on the first square of the chess board, 2 on the second, 4 on the third, 8 on the fourth etc. There are several children's books that examine this concept of doubling.
One Grain of Rice, written and illustrated by Demi

written by David Birch and illustrated by Devis Grebu

written by David Barry and illustrated by Donna Perrone

A Grain of Rice, written by Helena Clare Pittman

You can see the problem written out with all the math at The Legend of the Chessboard. At the Math Forum page entitled A Fable you can learn the distance all those grains of rice stretched end-to-end would extend. And for one final story, check out Robert Krulwich's post entitled That Old Rice-Grains-On-The-Chessboard Con, With a New Twist.

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18. Poetry Friday - Math Storytelling Day and Infinity

Today is Math Storytelling Day. In honor of this auspicious event, I'm sharing a video, a book, and some related poems.

A wonderful book to accompany this video is The Cat In Numberland, written by Ivar Ekeland and illustrated by John O'Brien. David Hilbert, a mathematician interested in how infinity works and different sizes of infinities, first made up the basic story (see video above). In this version of the story, Mr. and Mrs. Hilbert run a hotel called the Hotel Infinity. That cat who lives there becomes confused when the Hilberts are able to find room for new guests, even when the hotel is full.  
To learn more about the book, see this comprehensive review from the American Mathematical Society.

Let's wrap this up today with a few poems about infinity.

by William Blake

To see the world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower;
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

by Jacob Bernoulli (a 17th century mathematician)

Even as the finite encloses an infinite series
And in the unlimited limits appear,
So the soul of immensity dwells in minutia
And in narrowest limits no limit in here.
What joy to discern the minute in infinity!
The vast to perceive in the small, what divinity!

Revelation At Midnight
by Piet Hein (a Danish mathematician known for writing gruks)

Infinity's taken
by everyone
as a figure-of-eight
written sideways on.
But all of a sudden
I now comprehend
that eight is infinity
standing on end.

That's it for me on this Friday. I do hope you'll take some time to check out all things poetry being shared and collected today by Janet Wong over at Poetry for Children. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

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19. Monday Poetry Stretch - Etheree

The next poetry form for the Poetry Seven year-long writing project is the etheree. Since I've promised myself I won't wait until the last minute this time around, I'm posting the form now as a reminder to get to work! 

An etheree is a poem of ten lines in which each line contains one more syllable than the last. Beginning with one syllable and ending with ten, this unrhymed form is named for its creator, 20th century American poet Etheree Taylor Armstrong.

Variant forms of the etheree include the reverse form, which begins with 10 syllables and ends with one. The double etheree is twenty lines, moving from one syllable to 10, and then from 10 back to one. (I suppose a double etheree could also move from 10 syllables to one, and then from one back to 10.)

You can learn more about the etheree at The Poets Garret and Shadow Poetry.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing an etheree. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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20. Poetry Friday - September Twelfth

In memory ...

Image from the National Park Service

September Twelfth, 2001
by X.J. Kennedy

Two caught on film who hurtle
from the eighty-second floor,
choosing between a fireball
and to jump holding hands,

aren't us. I wake beside you,

Read the poem in its entirety.

If you are interested in 9-11 poetry, see The Response of American Poets to 9-11: A Provisional Report at the Michigan Quarterly Review. You'll also find a helpful Web Guide to the Poetry of 9-11 from the Library of Congress.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all things poetry being shared and collected today by Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

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21. Constitution Day is Thursday, September 17th

In the summer of 1787, the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia to write a new plan of government for our nation. The Constitution was approved by the Convention and signed on September 17th of the same year. Once signed it was sent to the states for ratification.

In 2005, a federal law established September 17th as Constitution Day. Here are some books and additional resources to help you celebrate the law of the land in your home or classroom. Please note that these are largely focused on the elementary level.


The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation, written by Jonathan Hennessey and illustrated by Aaron McConnell - This graphic text provides an illustrated journey through the articles and amendments of the Constitution. Text and illustrations provide clear explanations and historical background.

Shh! We're Writing the Constitution, written by Jean Fritz and illustrated by Tomie dePaola - This book provides a highly readable account of the Constitutional Convention by describing what the framers were doing and how they did it. Readers will find the text of the Constitution, as well as several pages of explanatory notes.

We The Kids, illustrated by David Catrow - Drawing on his strengths as a political cartoonist, Catrow uses a group of friends and a backyard camping trip to make the Preamble to the Constitution understandable for readers by pairing the text with illustrations that help define phrases like insure domestic tranquilitycommon defense, and our posterity. For example, the illustration for "establish Justice" shows a dog wearing a helmet and standing guard while the kids play inside the tent.

A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution, written by Betsy Maestro and illustrated by Giulio Maestro - This book provides an overview of the Constitution, beginning with the initial decision to hold the convention and ending with the adoption of the Bill of Rights. The focus of the text is really on the basic decisions about the organization of the government which resulted in the Great Compromise. Also included is a final section that provides a list of the signers, chronology of events and dates, and simple summaries of the Articles and amendments.

If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution, written by Elizabeth Levy and illustrated by Joan Holub - Like other books in the If You Were There series, this one is organized around a series of questions. It begins with What is the Constitution? and then moves on to a bit of history (the war, the Declaration, the Articles of Confederation) in order to lay the foundation for understanding the document. This one answers many questions about who was involved, why certain choices were made, and how the process worked.

Picture Window Books publishes a series entitled American Symbols. In it you will find these books written by Norman Pearl and illustrated by Matthew Skeens:
  • The U.S. Constitution - This book begins with James Madison introducing himself and asking the question "What is the U.S. Constitution?" What follows are a series of spreads with information about the framers and how they worked together, the document itself and the branches of government.
  • The Bill of Rights - In this book James Madison looks at the Bill of Rights and explores how it came to be.

Constitution Translated for Kids, written by Cathy Travis - Written at a 5th grade level, this book provides the entire text of the Constitution accompanied by a kid-friendly translation. In addition to the side-by-side translation, readers will find a timeline of events leading up to the writing of the Constitution, a glossary, information on Constitutional compromises, a bibliography and more.

Sites for Kids

Additional Web-Based Resources

Last But Not Least ... Schoolhouse Rock!

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22. Monday Poetry Stretch - Ubi Sunt

My son started high school last week and with it, his first foray into learning another language. He came home on Friday with a list of vocabulary words to memorize for a quiz on Tuesday. When I realized one of his words was ubi (he's taking Latin), I knew exactly what the form for this week's challenge would be.

Ubi sunt (Latin for  “where are?”) is a verse form traditionally used in Old English poetry. In the Ubi-sunt poetic form, a narrator asks a series of questions that tend to take the form “Where are the ____ of yesterday?” or “Where has the _____gone?”

Here is how The Poetry Foundation defines the form.
A number of medieval European poems begin with this Latin phrase meaning “Where are they?” By posing a series of questions about the fate of the strong, beautiful, or virtuous, these poems meditate on the transitory nature of life and the inevitability of death. The phrase can now refer to any poetry that treats these themes. 
You can learn more about this form at Wikipedia. You can find helpful advice for writing an ubi sunt poem at How to Write a Ubi-Sunt Poem (Synonym) and How to Write a Ubi Sunt Poem (Seattle PI).

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a poem in the form of ubi sunt. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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23. Say Hello to Poetry, Cybils Style!

It's that time of year again. On October 1st, the Cybils open for nominations. I am excited about serving again this year in the first round of judging with an AMAZING group of folks. Here's the scoop on the poetry category.

Our esteemed organizer: Jone Rush MacCulloch of Check It Out

Round 1
Round 2
I know we'll have a slew of terrific books to review and report on, with the outcome being a small group of outstanding finalists that will give those round two judges a whole lot to talk about. Last year I racked up $31 in library fines for keeping my books a wee bit too long. Let's hope I'm much better about returning books this year.

I can't wait to get started. Three cheers for the Cybils!

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24. Poetry Friday - Consignment Shop Finds

I spent some time "junking" over the last few weeks in an effort to find inexpensive artifacts for some social studies lessons. In my travels I came across these two wonderful books.

The Mouse of Amherst, written by Elizabeth Spires and illustrated by Claire Nivola
I Never Told And Other Poems, written by Myra Cohn Livingston

I'm quite taken with the story of Emmaline, a mouse who lives in Emily Dickinson's bedroom and finds in her a kindred spirit. I'm also quite fond of her poems. Here is one Emmaline wrote in response to a poem of Emily's she read.

I am a Little Thing.
I wear a Little Dress.
I go about my Days and Nights
Taking little barefoot Steps.

But though You never notice me
Nor count me as your Guest,
My soul can soar as High as yours
And Hope burns in my chest!

I hope you have a chance to pick up this gem of a book. Until then, you can read more of the poems in the NYTimes book review.

I never miss a chance to pick up a book of Myra's. This one has some lovely poems. Here's a shape poem I particularly like.
This is a quirky little collection about everyday things. Here's one more poem. Given all the talk of Syria, it's one that has taken hold of me and won't let go.

The Game
by Myra Cohn Livingston

Plastic soldiers march on the floor
Off to fight a terrible war.

The green troops charge. The gray side falls.
Guns splatter bullets on the walls.

Tanks move in. Jet fighters zoom
Dropping bombs all over the room.

All the soldiers are dead but two.
The game is over. The war is through.

The plastic soldiers are put away.
What other game is there to play?

That's it for me on this Friday. I do hope you'll take some time to check out all things poetry being shared and collected today by Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

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25. Monday Poetry Stretch - Minute Poem

Sometimes I find the most interesting poetic forms on the internet. In some cases it's impossible to tell who invented them or what their historical roots are. Here is one such form.

A minute poem consists of 3 quatrains. Each quatrain is written in iambic meter and is composed an 8 syllable first line, with the remaining lines only 4 syllables each. The rhyme scheme is AABB/CCDD/EEFF.

You can learn more about the minute poem and read an examples at Shadow Poetry and Poetry Dances.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a minute poem. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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