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Two teachers think about and write about their lives as readers -- readers of children's books, professional books, and adult fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Yes, we still want to try to have read the Newbery, but our reading lives are much bigger than just that.
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1. Our Wonderful World.18

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.


No wheel for rolling,
or draft horse for pulling,
and hills too steep,
with trees thick and deep.

So how to move countless
stone blocks up a mountain?
A hundred-man force
up an inclined plane course.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

After a week that featured wonders of the modern world chosen by The American Society of Civil Engineers -- the Empire State Building (my favorite of my poems this week), the Golden Gate Bridge, the Itaipu Dam, the Delta Works, and the Panama Canal (I cheated and wrote a non-wonder poem that day) -- it's been nice to return to some ancient wonders: Petra yesterday and Machu Picchu today.

What fun it's been to learn about unknown or little-known places around the world, and to marvel, day after day, at the ingenuity of the human race!

Robyn has the Poetry Friday roundup today at Life on the Deckle Edge, and the Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem comes home to Irene at Live Your Poem.

Carol Varselona at BeyondLiteracyLink wrote a poem for the Panama Canal.

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2. Our Wonderful World.17

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.

17. Petra


The rose-stone buildings stand
with their backs to the mountains

shot by Bedouins
ransacked by tomb-robbers
photographed by tourists
shaken by earthquakes
eroded by flooding

disappearing as imperceptibly 
but as certainly
as the dimming of our sun.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

It was nice yesterday to have a break from writing about the Wonders of the World, and instead write about the wonder of my world. The insatiable urge of humankind to build, build, build (and in the process destroy, destroy, destroy) was wearing me out. At the same time, the enormity of our planet makes our little human scrapes and scratches, ditches and dams and monuments seem tiny and temporary. I am sorry that the amazing city of Petra will not last forever, but at the same time I am heartened that the desert will reclaim its mountains.

Carol's poem from yesterday, "On Building the Panama Canal" is a powerful metaphor.

Kevin's poem today is "Rose City," which you can see in final draft and in process at Kevin's Meandering Mind.

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3. Our Wonderful World.16

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.


Snow is falling --
a mid-April joke
not meant to do real harm --
just a jest,
a parody of the pollen
that will soon sneeze up the air.

Bright green grass grins
through the dusting of snow.
Magnolia blooms chuckle
under caps of white.
Daffodils sigh,
sorry to be gone so soon.

Muffler and mittens snicker
at shivering shorts-wearing Springsters.
Forsythia half-heartedly bloomed
only just last week.
Everyone knows her punchline is
one more snow.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

Yeah, I know. That poem has exactly nothing to do with the Panama Canal. But it's the poem I wanted to write, and it's the poem I wrote, and there aren't enough hours in the day to write another.

Yesterday I didn't get Carol's poem in two voices for the Itaipu Dam linked in, nor Kevin's flowchart poem for the Delta Works. Be sure you check them out. Both are amazing in their own unique ways.

Carol's poem for the Delta Works is here, and Kevin's Panama Canal poem is here.

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4. Our Wonderful World.15

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.

The Delta Works along the coast of the Netherlands are fascinating works of engineering. 

I have a couple of Fibs for today.

The Netherlands

diked and dammed.
From sea, polders rise:
a Mondrian of tulip fields.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

Delta Works

blocked up,
barricaded shut:
the Netherlands holds back the sea.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

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5. Our Wonderful World.14

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.


Hungry for energy,
we sacrifice wild splendor,
harnessing the river's power,
taming it with concrete and steel,
satisfied with this compromise.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

When the Itaipu Dam was built, the sacrifice was the Guaíra Falls, the world's largest waterfall by volume. Was it worth it? Depends how you determine worth, I guess...

image from The Misanthrope's Journal

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6. Our Wonderful World.13

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.


I'm photogenic
posing with waves, fog, sunsets
expensive "steel harp"

©Mary Lee Hahn

Carol has a pair of poems for the Empire State Building at Carol's Corner.

Kevin also has a haiku today for the GGB.

I wanted to write short today so I would have time to share some of my students' writing.

For our Poetry Friday lesson, I shared my poems for the week with my students. (They didn't write with me this week. They were doing micro-research cause/effect paragraphs on slow and fast processes that change the earth.) I announced the theme of "Places" for their Poetry Friday reading or writing of poetry and sent them off to work. As always, they blew me away when we got back to share.

We heard poems from a wide range of poetry books:
Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintingsby Douglas Florian (the one about the T-Rex, perhaps at a museum or on site at a dig)
Stampede!: Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of Schoolby Laura Purdee Salas (the one about getting lost in a new school -- very appropriate since they visited their middle schools this week and are a delicious mixture of excitement and dread)
Out of This World: Poems and Facts about Spaceby Amy Sklansky (the one about blasting off -- our space expert has read a poem from this book just about EVERY Poetry Friday all year long!)
A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme by J. Patrick Lewis (I don't remember which poem, but perfect choice of books, eh?)

And we heard these originals (among others a bit too rough for publication just yet):


Here I go
off by myself
just a donkey
without a doubt.
Then I tripped
into a place.
It felt as if
I went 100 feet deep.
Then I realized
it was a tomb.
Three cheers for the donkey!
They thought I didn't have a clue.

by HF


I am at a place where you can get whatever you desire.
You can have something as cool as the wind, or as spicy as fire.
I bet you will admire
the ones we have hired.
So can you guess where I am?

(Subway..."eat fresh")

by CS

If You Use Your Mind

China holds a conga line,
Egypt makes chocolate kisses,
Home is what's yours and mine,
America has famous Miss-es.

Earth holds land, sea, and sky,
but it would be nothing without creation.
Earth holds those who walk, swim and fly,
creatures of all ages.

Jungles are a line of I's,
pines are cones of ice cream,
snow makes lands of sparkly white,
ice cream that stands on tall mountains.

Liberty is a welcomer of copper green,
the sea is a place you long to see.
Palms hold food and water, too,
all these things are on earth for you.

by MC

Here's another MC wrote, inspired by Stonehenge:

Rain was falling on me,
only one place left to go.

I sat against the smooth stone,
shaded slightly from the rain.

The place seemed erie,
I wondered if anyone was there.

I thought I could hear whispers,
it's just my imagination.

I thought I could see figures.
I thought I could feel hands.
I thought I could hear voices.

I thought.
I knew.

I knew there was someone --
it's not my imagination.

I knew I could see figures.
I knew I could feel hands.
I knew I could hear voices.

I knew.
I wondered.

I wondered if it was my imagination --
maybe not.

I wondered who the figures were.
I wondered if they were like me.
I wondered what they were trying to say.

I wondered.
I thought.

by MC

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7. Our Wonderful World.12

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.


The Empire State Building

A peach kabob1
A home for gods2
At the very tip
Kong loses his grip3

Fourth in height4
Icon of might5
Symmetrically planned
Art deco-ly grand6

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

1 In the book James and the Giant Peach, the peach ends its journey with a great squelch atop the pinnacle of the Empire State Building.

2 In Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series, Mount Olympus is the Empire State Building.

3 King Kong tried to escape his captors by climbing the Empire State Building, but it didn't work out the way he planned.

4 In North America...for the time being.

5 The nickname of the state of New York is "The Empire State," a reference to its wealth and resources.

The Empire State Building's art deco style is typical of pre-WWII architecture in New York City.

Carol's "Edgewalk" from yesterday's CN Tower is a must-read at Carol's Corner.

Kevin annotated his poem for today, "Empires Rise and Fall," on Poetry Genius. (He is one, by the way.)

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8. 2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem.12

I've peeked in on our poem as it germinated and sprouted, but I tried not to pay too much attention so I'd be ready with an open mind when my turn came. I think you'll be as surprised by my line as I was!

You can check the sidebar to learn which poet from around the Kidlitosphere wrote which line so far. Thank you, Irene (Live Your Poem) for organizing this fun collaboration!

The emotional roller coaster early in the poem seems to have leveled out. Our speaker seems more confident and ready for the journey. The journey of a lifetime, perhaps.

Without further ado, the poem with my line added:

Sitting on a rock, airing out my feelings to the universe
Acting like a peacock, only making matters that much worse;
Should I trumpet like an elephant emoting to the moon,
Or just ignore the warnings written in the rune?
Those stars can’t seal my future; it’s not inscribed in stone.
The possibilities are endless! Who could have known?
Gathering courage, spiral like an eagle after prey
Then gird my wings for whirlwind gales in realms far, far away.
But, hold it! Let's get practical! What's needed before I go?
Time to be tactical— I'll ask my friends what I should stow.
And in one breath, a honeyed word whispered low— dreams — 
Whose voice? I turned to see. I was shocked. Irene's?

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9. Our Wonderful World.11

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.


Stand Up Straight

Okay, Mom.
I get it now.
All those
were your way
of saying,
"Be proud!"
"Be confident!"
"Be yourself!"

I wish
I had listened.
I'd like to
go back
and tell my
teen self
those very same

And now,
as I watch
you bend
and shrink
with age,
my own
"Stand up straight!"s
take on
new urgency,
as does
my own reminder to
"Listen to your mother"
so I can soak up
every story.
every bit of wisdom
before it's too late.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

What a week. More than once, I've grumbled, "Who thought up this crazy Wonders of the World poem-a-day challenge?" 

Oh, yeah. I did. 

One of the things I've done to keep myself sane (and keep the poems coming) is to not write exactly about the wonder itself. 

For instance, when we visited the Great Wall of China, my poem was about dancing at a wedding reception. For the octagonal Porcelain Tower of Nanjing (aka: The Temple of Gratitude), I wrote The Eight Gratitudes. The Hagia Sophia inspired a haiku, The Leaning Tower of Pisa, A Note From the Architect, and the Channel Tunnel, a light at the end of any tunnel through which you might be toiling.

I am enjoying the company of Carol, at Carol's Corner, and Kevin, at Kevin's Meandering Mind. It would be awfully lonely without them, because between the day job and the daily poem, there isn't much time left over to go visiting all the other Poetry Month projects.

I'll make time tomorrow to make an exception. First I'll add a line to the Progressive Poem, then I'll read around the roundup and get a taste of all the poetic goodies.

Today Carol shares an arun about the Channel Tunnel from yesterday's wonder.
Kevin added humor to his poem for the CN Tower by making a webcomic.

Michelle has the roundup at Today's Little Ditty. Be sure to wish her a happy blog birthday -- her little ditty turned ONE this week!

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10. Thrive by Meenoo Rami

We are thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Meenoo Rami's new professional book Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching. We are early in the blog tour and there are many great stops coming up where you'll learn more and more about the book and Meenoo. So, our post will be the random things we love about Meenoo and the book--the reasons you'll want to pick it up soon!

I first "met" Meenoo on Twitter as #engchat was one of the first Twitter chats I participated in.  It was the one that hooked me on Twitter chats because it taught me just how powerful these conversations could be. And Meenoo INVENTED #engchat.  I remember her telling me when I finally met her in person at NCTE one year, that she created a talk for teachers on Twitter as a way to give back to the community that has given her so much. I realized then what a generous and genuine person Meennoo is. She mentioned that she was thinking of writing a book and I knew that whatever book she would write, I would buy it. I knew that whatever she had to say would be thoughtful and important.

I was lucky to interview Meenoo several weeks ago for a Choice Literacy Podcast. The podcast, "Finding Meaning and Joy in Teaching" can be found at Choice Literacy's website. So much of what she said in the interview continues to live with me.  As I think back on my 27 years of teaching, so much of what she teaches us are the things we don't learn in student teaching, but things that are most important to our lifelong work.  What she writes about are the keys both to being a true professional and to staying true to our students.

There couldn't be a better time for Meenoo to share her voice on the topic of (re)invigorating our teaching lives.  It is easy to be tired about our work these days -- tired from the mandates and the politics and the testing and the criticism.  And Meennoo describes, with honesty, how lonely this work can be if we don't reach out.  Then she reminds us how wonderfully energizing our work can be when we do reach out. I love that this book focuses on the people in our lives.

I love this book because after 27 years, it totally resonated with me.  I think no matter how long you've been teaching--20 days or 20 years, there are ruts in our teaching lives. There are times when staying energized gets hard and times that we feel alone, no matter how many wonderful colleagues we have.  Meenoo talks about those first few years of teaching and how lonely they often were, how isolated she sometimes felt. But she took charge of her teaching and her learning and reached out and found people to learn with.

And I love this book because it reminded me of mentors and I love the way that Meenoo thinks about them. She talks honestly about mentors who were assigned to her and she shares mentors who have been part of her teaching life.  I love that she doesn't talk about one mentor but the idea that we need lots of mentors and each mentors us in a different way.

Meeoo is someone you want to follow. Her book is powerful but so is her blog and her Twitter feed (@meenoorami). She shares thoughtfully and generously and invites us all into the network she has created-- a network of learners who thrive in even the toughest times.

THRIVE Blog Tour Stops!
Be sure to visit all these great blogs who are celebrating Thrive
Hear what they have to say about Thrive 
and read guest posts and interviews from Meenoo herself!
Jen Vincent at Teach Mentor Texts!
Franki Sibberson and Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy
Kira Baker Doyle at Kira J Baker-Doyle, Ph.D.
Sarah Mulhern Gross at The Reading Zone
Kate Roberts and Maggie B. Roberts at Indent
Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
Troy Hicks at Hickstro
Joy Kirr at Genius Hour
Tara Smith at The Teaching Life
Antero Garcia at The American Crawl
John Spencer at Education Rethink
Kellee Moye and Ricki Ginsberg at Unleashing Readers

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11. Our Wonderful World.10

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.


The Song of the Overworked

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
We thought it would never appear.
We toiled and we moiled ‘til we thought we would drop.
When we saw it we gave out a cheer!

Now we know we can make it the whole way.
Our steps have new vigor and zeal.
We’ll skip and we’ll prance and we’ll sprint to the end.
We can outlast this wretched ordeal.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

The Channel Tunnel is a fascinating feat of human engineering. I love that cross-section that shows how deep it goes. 

But my poem for today refused to be about this exact tunnel. First it wanted to be about earthworms and moles. Then I got the phrase "There's a light at the end of the tunnel" stuck inside my head. Maybe because it's been such a long week. Maybe because our state's "blessed event" is within sight at the end of this month. Maybe because I am starting to plan out my professional development and travel plans for the summer. 

No matter what you're working your way through, this poem is for you -- I hope you can see the light at the end of your tunnel.

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12. Our Wonderful World.9

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.


W is for Wonder

From the far end of the reflecting pool
the Taj Mahal is a W.

Unanswered questions carved in white marble:
What? Where? When? Why? and are you able

to fathom the love the emperor felt
when he had this tribute built?

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

Carol and Catherine have Leaning Tower of Pisa poems from yesterday at Carol's Corner and Reading to the Core.

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13. Our Wonderful World.8

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.

8. The Leaning Tower of Pisa

A Note From the Architect

I didn't mean
for my tower to lean --
my work is usually not sloppy.

At least I know
that history will show
my creation will never be copied.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

A note about the architect: there is actually controversy about the architect of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Imagine that. No one made sure to leave concrete (pun intended) evidence that this mistake was his.

Be sure you go over to Carol's Corner and read her poem about the Hagia Sophia from yesterday. Wow.

Kevin used a Google tool to make his Leaning Tower poem today. It's at Kevin's Meandering Mind.

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14. Our Wonderful World.7

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.

7. Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia began as Greek Orthodox church, then it became a mosque, and now it's a museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

The whole time I was swimming my mile yesterday, I was thinking about religions. About how different religions fight to say that theirs is the true one, about the wars throughout human history that have been waged in the name of religion. There are many places (case in point, the Hagia Sophia) that have been declared holy by one religion, and the invading culture says, "Yes, this is holy...but now in OUR religion." Holy can't ever seem to be a shared holiness. Humans and our civilizations are fairly new to the planet and maybe the things we think are so important that we would kill for them are actually as fleeting as a cloud passing across the sun. It is that idea that gave me the image for my haiku today.

clouds block the sun
spires and domes are shadowed
brief darkness passes

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

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15. New Possibilities with Padlet

I'm participating in a Heinemann webinar series that Kristin Ziemke is doing . She is my new favorite person and I've learned so much from her over the last few weeks.  Her classroom is amazing and she embed technology in thoughtful and authentic ways.

One thing Kristin showed was a pad let she created. I know Padlet and I've used it lots. But I've used it in a very simple way. I've used it for kids to put sticky notes up as a way to think collectively I had no idea it could be used as a conversation starter with videos, images, padlets on padlets and more. Her Padlet gave me new visions for what Padlet can do. I didn't know you could change the background. I had missed so much about this tool. 

So I played around with a few ways to use Padlet as a way to begin conversations and as a way to collect our thinking. I also think it will be a great way for kids to access learning and to continue the conversation at home.

I played with a board to think about how I might use Padlet in Read Aloud.  We are currently reading How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor.  I created a board with the cover of the book, a book trailer and a link to Barbara O'Connor's website.  We have had so much success with Corkulous as a way to stretch and collect our thinking around read aloud that Padlet seems to add even more options.  I can see adding a board within a board to do the things we are doing on Corkulous. And since it is web-based, it can be accessed from home and school.

We also played with a board to collect and add to as a class.  We have a bird watching area at our school and we've been spending time there for some of our science and math work.  The Padlet board shares the ways we are using various tools to collect information.  This is a site that will help us see how different tools can be used for different purposes. Hopefully it will start a conversation around tools that really help you observe and collect data in efficient ways.  

Today, I attended the Literacy Convention Event and Ruth Ayres spoke about Writing Celebrations.  She talked about the importance of writing celebrations--both the process and the product.   I'm thinking now of ways I can you Padlet for writing celebrations. I am thinking we can share lines we've written,a board of  links to finished products, a board of student writing with room for response. I am going to play some more to see where this thinking might go.

I have been playing with lots of tools over the last few years but, I so love finding one tool and thinking of new possibilities for use.  I am going to focus on this one tool for a while and think about various ways to use it, play around with what the tool can do and grow some possibilities!  Thanks Kristin for stretching my thinking about using this tool for more than one thing!

*For more posts on Digital Literacy, visit Reflections on the Teche for the Link Up!

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16. Our Wonderful World.6

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.


The Eight Gratitudes

I hope you won't think I'm wasting
one of my eight
by choosing daffodils.
They hold hope
in their cup-and-saucer blooms.

If I choose
books -- 
the ones I bought yesterday,
plus the ones that line nearly every wall of every room --
can they also stand 
for the authors,
and my fellow readers,
and a quiet afternoon 
spent curled up on the couch reading?
Is that cheating?

How could I not
include chocolate?

Or my mug of hot tea 
first thing
in the morning?

When I close my eyes
and think of home,
I picture my mother, 
looking out the window
above the kitchen sink,
calling me 
to come and see
the sunset.

Yes, that's worth three:
home, mom, sunsets.

Number eight is silence,
which was broken just now
by the train's whistle,
and earlier
by the robins and wrens 
singing in the dark.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

As I read about The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, trying to find a starting point for a poem, I came across these names for the pagoda: "Bao'ensi, or "Temple of Gratitude," and I learned that the base of the tower is octagonal. That's all I needed. My poem would be, "The Eight Gratitudes," which is a poem I could probably (should probably) write every day of my life with eight different gratitudes per day. After all, there's a growing body of research that shows an "Attitude of Gratitude" is actually good for your health.

The original tower, built to honor either the Emperor's parents or just his mother, was destroyed in the 19th Century, but was rebuilt in 2010.

Amy has been writing about her mentor poems in her process notes for her daily poems at The Poem Farm. I didn't have a particular poem in mind as I wrote, but I tried to imitate the conversational tone of Billy Collins or George Bilgere's poetry.

Be sure to visit Carol's Corner to see the fabulous abecedarian Carol wrote about The Great Wall of China yesterday.

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17. March Mosaic

March was a great month for photos.

We start and end March with birthday celebrations. The March 2 Chocolate Cake was the traditional recipe, but by request, the March 29 cake was made with coffee buttercream frosting. It was probably the best cake I've ever made. I'm drooling just remembering it.

We ate some amazing cinnamon rolls at Sunday Brunch at Natalie's (see that empty plate?!), and I'm trying to get better at taking time to play around with my photos using some of the many apps on my phone. I had a LOT of fun with that picture of Jack Nicklaus and the lampshade reflection that makes him look like he has on a tutu.

The fractal broccoli took me by surprise at Whole Foods. I wrote a Fib once upon a time about fractal broccoli, but I've never seen it in real life.

During spring break we went antiquing in Clintonville, and we went and saw the Bruce Munro light exhibit at Franklin Park Conservatory (with yummy hot chocolate in the Short North after).

Also during spring break, we had a mini-blizzard. Really. This has been The Winter That Will Not End. But spring is springing, whether it is out in the garden (covered in snow) or in the potato bin in the pantry.

Spring break was a great time to try out my new (old) desk I got when we went antiquing (and a good time to take illustrated notes with a few TED talks).

We went to (near) Lancaster to Rockmill Brewery for a tour and tasting. And even though I was on spring break, and on my way to a craft beer tasting, I was noticing an example of erosion to show my students. You can take the teacher out of school, but you can't take the school out of the teacher!

Happy March, even though I'm a week late!

Click to enlarge, or you can see all of these pictures on Flickr.

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18. Our Wonderful World.5

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.


My Uncle's Getting Married

My uncle's getting married
in the church at Broad and High.
He's wearing a tuxedo,
cummerbund and bolo tie.

After all the boring stuff,
it's off to the party house.
We'll eat a fancy dinner
and we'll toast his brand new spouse.

The the fun will really start,
the groom will dance his bride,
we'll do the Macarena,
chicken dance, electric slide.

We'll boogie woogie, bump and grind,
we'll limbo way down low.
We'll shimmy, shake, we'll shuffle, swing
we'll do our best disco.

And when the bride says, "One more dance!"
the conga line she leads.
We ribbon all around the room,
we curve, we swerve, we weave.

A snake of happy revelers,
the young and old alike,
connected hand to waist to back,
we dance away the night.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

I'm giving myself permission to have more fun with this project. I don't think I can write 25 more poems that are exactly about the wonders. So anything at all about the wonder that inspires me is fair game. 

Can you tell how I got today's poem from the image of the Great Wall? I hope you can see the conga line in the photo!

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19. It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thanks to Jen and Kellee for hosting It's Monday! What Are You Reading!  Stop by Teach Mentor Texts or Unleashing Readers for the round up and see what others in the blog community are reading.

This does not feel like enough reading for Spring Break week but it didn't end up to be a big reading week for me. But I did find some gems.

I've loved Jenny Offill since I read 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore so I was thrilled to see Sparky! by this author. A fun story about a girl who gets a pet sloth.

And Dan Santat has a new book out: The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend.  I received a review copy this week. A fun read! I need to reread and look more closely at his amazing art.  So much to look at!

And I was so happy to read Cynthia Lord's new book, Half a Chance. I love all of her books and loved this one as much as the others.

I am always looking for great nonfiction and Itty Bitty Kitty Committeelooked like a good one. I spent some time browsing it and reading parts and pieces this week. Very cute kitties!

And I am about halfway through Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald. I have heard lots about it so am happy to have a copy. I'm loving it so far!

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20. Our Wonderful World.1

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.



in the desert
is as vast as the sky
expanding across blue distance.
Ancient as sand, changeless and thirsty,
time waits, encased in a monumental tomb of stone.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

This year, because April 1 is on a Tuesday, I am including my students in my writing process for this first week. Yesterday we looked at this picture of The Great Pyramid of Giza and did a two-column brainstorming activity with DENOTATION on the left and CONNOTATION on the right. Denotation is where we listed the exactly what we could see in the picture, or facts we gathered from further research. Connotation is where we listed what those facts made us think about, or feel. My denotations were big, old, triangle, sand, desert, brown. My connotations were important, valuable, knowledgeable, solid, balanced, sturdy, strong, classic, time, change, changelessness, vast, empty, silent, dry, hot, thirsty. You can see which ones made it into my poem!

It was fascinating to watch the students' writing move immediately in unique directions based on their own connotations. After 5 minutes of my own writing, I circled the room and found another pyramid-shaped poem, two acrostics (mummy and pyramid), three different voices (a slave, the pyramid, and a conversation between the pyramid and a visitor), and poems about the sand, grave robbers, and oldness. I hope a couple of them will allow me to post their poems here later today!

And (drumroll...) I am cross-posting my Poetry Month posts on my spankin' new poetry website!

Jama has a list of the Poetry Month projects around the Kidlitosphere at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Yours isn't there? Let her know!

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21. Little Poems for Tiny Ears

Sally shared this book with me at Cover to Cover when I visited over spring break. Little Poems for Tiny Ears is an adorable new poetry book by Lin Oliver. The book is illustrated by Tomie dePaola. It is a happy little book of poems for "tiny ears".

This book is filled with great poems for babies and toddlers.  The poems are short and very sweet.  They capture the joy of being a baby. One of my favorite poems in the book is called "I See a Baby" and it is about a baby seeing itself in the mirror.  There is a poem about walking and a poem about strollers and one about diaper time.  There is lots of rhyming so young children will love the language and rhythm even if they don't yet understand the words.  And Tomie dePaola's illustrations are quite adorable. Each child has his or her own personality and the colors are joyful and engaging.

This is one of those books that both child and parent will enjoy.  I plan on buying it for baby gifts in the future as it is the perfect baby gift. I also think it would be great to have in the classroom. I have so many students with baby sisters and brothers that they would enjoy this take on babies!

A great find--thanks Sally!

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22. Our Wonderful World.2

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.


We stand.
Sun warms us,
wind pushes us,
people stare at us.

We wait.
Moon comforts us,
rain gouges us,
people stare at us.

We know.
Tools made us,
ancients moved us,
people stare at us.

We endure.
History created us,
future sustains us,
people stare at us.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

S t o n e h e n g e
feels              hard,
can                lift,
sounds          silent
very              strong
reaches         high
to the            sky
feels             rough.

©JB, 2014

We did another two-column brainstorm for today's poems. This time we thought about what moods the picture evoked, and what sensory images we might include in our poem.

There's so much we don't know about Stonehenge. I tried to capture the solid silence of the stones, and the wonder and amazement that we continue to feel in the presence of this mighty ring of standing stones.

Carol and Kevin both wrote poems yesterday for The Great Pyramid of Giza. Check them out at Carol's Corner and  Kevin's Meandering Mind.

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23. Our Wonderful World.3

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.


Broken soup bowl,
tarnished crown,
gaping eyeholes,
center of town.

Shaken, crumbled,
still you stand.
By history humbled,
yet you're grand.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

Carol Varsalona has a Colosseum poem for today on Notegraphy. Kevin's Colosseum Fibonacci poem showcases HaikuDeck.

Carol's poem from yesterday about Stonehenge is at Carol's Corner.

Kevin wrote a Stonehenge poem in Notegraphy yesterday. (I can't wait to give this app/website a try!)

It was in my plans for us to write similes and metaphors about the Colosseum as a possible way into our poems. Good thing I tried that before I had my students do it -- I learned that you can't write much when you know next to nothing about your topic.  (DUH.) So we started with some quick research.

Bless you, KR. I knew I was ready to pull them all back together for some brainstorming when K said aloud, "I wonder how much cereal it would hold? It looks like a bowl!" We had our first simile.

Then, as they fed me facts they had learned, we worked together to bend them into similes or metaphors. Here's we came up with:

•The colosseum is a bowl. How much cereal would it hold?
FACT: It is big.
•It is as big as the moon. (Nice example of hyperbole!)

FACT: It is old, made in 70 AD.
•The Colosseum is nearly as old as the Pyramid of Giza. (We had a good conversation about why this isn't a simile. It is simply stating how old the Colosseum is. And it's not even true. The pyramid is WAY older.)

•My teacher is nearly as old as the colosseum. (Now that we're comparing two unlike things, we have a simile. And hyperbole, please!!)

•The colosseum is like a crown on a princess’ head. (Simile)

•The colosseum is a crown. (Simile transformed into a metaphor)

FACT: It's made of concrete and stone.

•The Colosseum is as sturdy as the tree branch Ry climbed on. (We wanted a simile that compared the Colosseum to something that really wasn't so sturdy, since it is falling apart. Our read aloud is AS EASY AS FALLING OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH, and Ry is the main character. You can probably guess what happened to the tree branch he climbed on!)

FACT: 500,000 people were killed and over a million animals were killed there.

•The colosseum is a graveyard.

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24. Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons

I had not taken the time to look Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons until spring break. It was on display at Cover to Cover. I didn't plan to love it, but when I opened it up, I did! I fell in love immediately.  My poetry shelves are too full these days so I am trying not to add lots more poetry until I take time to weed. I have hundreds of poetry books and so I'm being very picky about the ones I add to the shelves. But this one was a must-have.

I love great Haiku for kids. I find that it is a fun type of poetry to play with--a comfy way to get them to move beyond rhyming poems and still have a ball.  I also think there is so much learning when you are playing with writing a haiku.  Syllables, word choice, message in so few words are all amazing writing lessons. So, when I find a great book of haiku that is accessible to young children, I am happy! And who could not love the cute panda? This book makes me happy.

The poems in this book (one per page) follow the seasons through a year.  A few poems per season capture the things outside as well as common activities for the season.  There are haikus that are more serious and some that are more humorous.  The variety of poems in this book will naturally create invitations for young poetry writers.

Love this book and can't wait to share it with kids. I have not been so good about embedding poetry this year and this book reminds me why it is so important and fun to make time for poetry.  So glad I finally took a good look at this new favorite!

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25. Our Wonderful World.4

The details of my Poetry Month project can be found here.


We All Wait

What's a forgotten catacomb to do?

My tunnels sprawled,
my columns endured,
my stairways persevered.

What's a forgotten catacomb to do?

I cradled the bones of the dead
in silence.
My statues stood guard
in secrecy.
And I waited.

We all wait.
we even know why,
or what for.

in all my centuries
would I have imagined
what would break the monotony 
and end my waiting.

What's a forgotten catacomb to do?

A thousand years I waited.
Then a donkey fell through my roof
and the silence, the secrecy, and the waiting were over.

Who would have guessed?

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

This is the first wonder I knew absolutely nothing about. Based on my experience yesterday, I knew we would need to do a bit of research before we started writing. I showed my students the image above and we brainstormed the questions we hoped to have answered by our research:
What are catacombs?
Are there traps?
Can tourists go there?
Are there kings, or treasure?
Where are they?
How old are they?
How big are they?
What are they used for?
My reading minilesson plans called for us to think about how we can determine the speaker in a poem (or a text), and in writing, we would try to write from an interesting point of view.

Turns out this was the perfect wonder for personification. You could write from the point of view of the catacombs themselves (as I did) or from the point of view of the donkey that fell through the roof in 1900, leading to the rediscovery of the catacombs. You could be a serpent guarding the doorway, a statue, a dead person buried there, or one of the shards for which the catacombs are named: "Mound of Shards." You could be the desert around it, the sky above it, or the water that's flooded the lowest level.

Carol has a Colosseum poem from yesterday at her blog, Carol's Corner.

All of my Poetry Month posts can also be found on my new poetry website.

Amy has the Poetry Friday roundup today at The Poem Farm. She's certainly one of the wonders of the world!

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