Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Poetry Project: A Poetry Cafe Planned By Kindergartners

Every year I introduce my class to poetry and every year they love it! They also love to write it. It gives them a fresh, new reason to write! I start out by immersing them in poetry. The one that always ends up being their favorite is All the Small Poems and Forteen More by Valerie Worth.

This book teaches them that they can look at anything, even the most simple thing like grass, the sky, a rock, or a pencil, and see it so clearly if they look at it with "poet's eyes." They realized that they could write a poem about anything! 

For the next twelve years, they will most likely be told what type of poems they have to write. I just want them to write poems freely without any restrictions. I expose them to list poems, I Like... poems, metaphors, picture poems, haikus, poems with rhythm and poems with rhymes. We talk about how these poems can inspire their own poetry. I love reading their poems and seeing how each child is inspired by different styles of poetry. I also loved reading about the different subjects they would write about. Some were so sad they brought tears to my eyes about real life situations. Some were about happy memories and some were about random things just like Valerie Worth. 

The kids wrote poems for about two weeks and then made their own personal poetry treasuries to take home. They read their poetry books over and over! I asked if they would like to present their poems to our families. That is when the planning for our Poetry Cafe started.  They decided they wanted snacks and drinks and some wanted to make the room "pretty." They voted for sugar cookies for a snack. I volunteered to also bring some popcorn. 

This group has been exploring herbs (which will be another blog post) so we decided to make water with some lemon and our Spearmint plant. 

Cooking with 25 kids by myself was a very interesting experience, (in the past I've always had an assistant) but we got it done! We made the lemon-mint water first. 

The kids love to take pictures of things that they create, but about four kids asked if they could take pictures of the process as we made our cookies and lemon-mint water. Here are some of the moments and things they thought were important through their photos as we made the water. They would even stand on chairs to get a different perspective. They watch me too much! 

We made the cookies next. I usually have the kids make everything homemade but without help and since we were pressed for time, I pushed the easy button and used a mix! I love this sugar cookie mix!! It's my favorite!

Here is the documentation of the process from the kids point of view with their photos.

I pulled out all of my flowers so a group could make arrangements. 

We also made a poetry banner. They wanted to use the colors that were in their favorite painting Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh. 

I hung it up in a prominent spot and used its color inspiration as a backdrop for our "Welcome to our poetry cafe" sign. 

We practiced reading our poems in our books and then set them out on the tables along with the flowers. 

We displayed our lemon-mint water with the recipe and a graph showing who liked the lemon-mint water and who didn't.

We also created a snack table. The kids made labels for everything. They even made signs without me knowing about it saying "Eat Here" and put them on all the tables in our room! I also enjoyed the "Get food here" sign someone made and stuck on the snack table. These are examples of purposeful writing. They write for these reasons without thinking writing is a hard thing. They just do it naturally because they feel it is needed. 

Each friend picked their favorite poem to share for the poetry reading part of our cafe. They had a podium and a microphone, and I put their poem up on the promethium board so the families could see it also as they read it. 

After the reading, the kids took their families to their tables to read their Poetry books and Space books to them. Then they took them around the room open house style to show them all of the space projects they have worked on. After that they got to mingle and enjoy some snacks and drinks together. 

I love doing this each year! It is a great way for us to build community and let the kids show all that they have done! You could see how proud they were to put this on for their families! It was very meaningful and purposeful for them all! That's how the best learning takes place!

Stay tuned for the next blog post where I will blog about our space inquiry!


  1. I so love this and the Valerie Worth book is one of my favorites! You and your children's work is such an inspiration!

  2. Your blog is my favorite. Very inspiring, Tank you.

  3. This work is wonderful! Congratulations to your students, both current and previous, as it appears this has become a fabulous tradition in your learning space!

  4. I just stumbled upon your blog and LOVE it and all your inspiration! This method/belief is exactly what our future generation needs to be successful learners! Student lead - student focused, student driven! Anyone who is evaluated using the Danielson method needs to teach with this mindset; not only will the students be successful, so will the teacher. I look forward to your blogs!

  5. Darla,

    I love the things you have done with your students. I am presenting a session on inquiry this summer and would love to share a few of the things you have done and give your blog a shout out. Do you mind?

    Thanks, April Larremore
    Chalk Talk

    1. Hi April!
      Sorry it took so long! I have been traveling and have just come back! If it is not to late, yes! You are absolutely welcome to use my blog anytime to share and give a shout out! I want so much to help others in teaching through inquiry! I hope I am not too late, and if I am, I am so sorry!