Sunday, October 7, 2012

Poetry -- A Summer Tradition

It all started many years ago on my oldest son’s last day of first grade when he brought home a collection of poems that his class had memorized during the year.  He was so adorable reciting, “Thumbs in the thumb-place, Fingers all together!” and “Paddle once, Paddle twice, Paddle chicken soup with rice” that I decided to spend more time with the poetry he had learned by having him illustrate each poem.  We used paint, glitter, fabric, stickers, colored paper, and colored pencils to illustrate those poems, and I found that as we did, we came to love them even more.  Over the years my children and I have repeated this activity -- gathering poems and trying to find creative ways to express how they make us feel (particularly challenging for non-artist me) -- and in the process, we have increased our appreciation of the poetry.  We have read, memorized, and illustrated poems by Judith Viorst, X.J. Kennedy, Emily Dickenson, Aileen Fisher, Eve Merriam, Carl Sandburg, Marchette Chute, Bobbi Katz, and many others.

My oldest is now at college, but my younger children enjoyed gathering and illustrating poems this summer.  Here are just a few of the pictures they made to illustrate the poems we love:

"Umbrellas" by Barbara Juster Esbensen
We cut index cards into pieces and glued the pieces onto a separate piece of paper.  Then the kids placed a blank sheet of paper on top of the index-card covered page and colored over it with crayon.  They cut their colorful umbrellas from the colored sheets.

"The Chorus" by Eileen Sheridan

The word bubbles are embossed with musical notes.  The bird bodies are cut from scrapbook paper, and the kids used colored pencil to draw the detail.

"Bees" by Jack Prelutsky

Each child made bees from their yellow-inked fingerprints.  The detail was added with color pencil.  This picture was fun to make and super easy.  I especially liked seeing all the personality my kids put into "every bee that ever was."

"Silvery" by Dennis Lee

I lightly taped a piece of cardstock in a flat box, and let the children roll paint-covered marbles across the page to create "dreams".  We then glued a moon cut from mirrorboard to each picture.

I just wish summer could have lasted longer.


  1. I love this idea! It is such a fun way to spend the summer. Thanks for the inspiration. I can't wait to start collecting poems for next year.