Primary Grades

Poet-In-the-School-Residency: Primary Grades

Kindergarten and First and Second Grades

Rachel Guido DeVries in the classroom with a studentI suggest no more than two or three days with these grade levels, and scheduled 45 minutes. Day One, I read to the students, and may plan a reading with a “listening lesson,” and an accompanying activity as they listen. An example of this is my poem, “My Unicorn and I.”  This phrase is repeated several times in the poem, and students listen for the phrase, and make a “horn” each time they hear it. I also give these students a chance to ask me questions, or to request poems about topics they are interested in. Writing Ideas:  we might do a group poem emphasizing imaginative language and/or the use of repetition as an introduction to rhythm. Students may be asked to make a wish poem, or I might make use of sound to begin to teach figurative language, specifically simile and metaphor: A whisper sounds like___________________; or,  a scary noise is________________. With first and second graders, depending on the time of year, and their writing skills, I might do some simile building with them, and on day two have these writers create poems about, for example, their hearts: My happy heart is like a ___________________. Another exercise I use with primary students focuses on imaginative and action words. This idea can be used with the seasons, too. For example, in fall, I might ask students to imagine being a leaf, and describing how the leaf would get from the tree. They can create a leaf in any color, and use any action word except “fall” to get out of the tree: I am a purple leaf dancing from a tree. In winter, I might use a snowflake; in the spring, a flower. The emphasis here, of course, is on active, colorful language. With third Graders, I pretty much follow the residency lessons as above, with adaptations to the developmental and learning abilities of that age group.

Some Specifics, fourth through sixth Grade

Day one will always focus on word choice and imagery, with different assignments again geared to developmental and learning levels. Day two will focus on personification and sound Day three on structure. With grade 4 a structure lesson will focus on stanzas and line breaks; grade 5 I begin to talk about the various types of stanzas (couplets, tercets, quatrains, etc.) Grade 6, students might explore writing in particular forms, such as the sonnet, sestina, villanelle.