More blended fun

Hi everyone,

Thank you Jane Yolen and Matt Forrest for chipping in with poems based on the prompt CR. “Crazed” and “Croissants & Crackers” are great fun and good examples of how wordsmiths can take off from any point and find clever ways to amuse and entertain. I’m eager to see poems from others and know that some of you are still at work. By the way, here’s mine. It’s part of the LEARNING THROUGH POETRY series I mentioned earlier. I cast it in two voices. When my co-author Mary Jo Fresch and I went to California to record all the poems, we had a fine time reciting the girl or boy parts respectively. In this case, I was “Croc” and she was “Cricket.”

Croc and Cricket
David L. Harrison
A crocodile and a cricket
Fell in love.
He crooned, “I’m crazy about you,
The cricket cried, “I’m lucky
That we met!
I wuv you more than cracker
Crumbs, my pet.”

“I wuv you more than crabs,”
Her lover cooed.

She said, “My darling, eating
Critters is rude.”

But snooky-wookums,” he said,
“I crave my meat!”

She whispered, “Honey-bunny,
You’re so sweet.”

He croaked, “No crow or crane
To crunch and crack?”

“Not even,” she said, “a crispy
Crawfish snack.”

To give the croc credit,
He didn’t fight,

But he did insist on ice cream
Every night.

© 2013 Shell Education Publishing, Inc.
Reprinted with permission of David L. Harrison

Learning through Poetry

How about a prompt?

Hi everyone,

I haven’t suggested a prompt lately other than W.O.M. Recently I’ve been talking to teachers about challenging their kids to write poems inspired by a phoneme, such as a vowel, consonant, consonant blend, or digraph. Quick definition. In a consonant blend, two consonants are paired together but we can still hear both sounds, as in bl. A digraph produces a new sound, as in sh.

I wrote 96 poems inspired by phonemes for the five book series, LEARNING THROUGH POETRY, co-written with Mary Jo Fresch, published by Shell Education. My challenge in every case was to start with a subject sound and create a poem that emphasized the sound as many times as I could. The point was to help young children make the association between what they hear and what they see on paper.

For example, when I began with the short A sound in ANK, this was the eventual result.

Need a Bigger Tank
By David L. Harrison

I put two guppies
in my tank.

One was Bob.
One was Frank.

One of them played
a little prank.

Bob’s a girl
or else it’s Frank.

© 2013 Shell Education, Inc.
Reprinted with permission of David L. Harrison

And here’s what happened when I started playing with Y, which can be either a consonant or a vowel.

Yellow Y
By David L. Harrison

A yak walked into a yoyo store
And yelled, “I want a yoyo!”

“Why do you want a yoyo, Yak?”
Yelled back the yoyo fellow.

”A yoyo’s yummy!” yelled the yak,
“But only if it’s yellow.
Blue ones make my tummy hurt,
Oh yes, they make me bellow.”

And then he gulped a yellow yoyo.
“Yuck!” yelled the fellow.

© 2013 Shell Education, Inc.
Reprinted with permission of David L. Harrison

Here’s Mary Jo and her grandson Nicholas having fun with Yellow Y.

So here’s your prompt. Write a poem, repeating the sound as many times as you can, beginning with the consonant blend CR. I hope you have fun with it.

Webinar finished

Hi everyone,

Thank you for your encouragement yesterday. Once that Mary Jo Fresch and I got warmed up, with Kim Bernard’s able guidance we flew straight through the webinar. I think the final time was eighteen minutes so we were about where we wanted to be. I believe that the finished result will be posted today on the Shell Education site.

Learning through PoetryLEARNING THROUGH POETRY is the series of books that we wrote for PreK-2 students to help them develop the connection between the sounds they hear and the words they see. Phonemic awareness is an important indicator of a child’s readiness to read.

For each of the 96 poems in the series I began with a basic sound (phoneme), such as a short vowel, a blended sound, long vowel, digraph, or consonant. I made a list of words that contained the same sound that I wanted to write about. Then I worked them around in various ways until the thread of an idea became apparent.

The final poem, in each case, features as many of the subject sounds as I could work in while also writing a legitimate poem in the process. It was a challenge but one that I rather enjoyed.

Here’s an example. The sound was the blend GR.

David L. Harrison

Gruff old grandpa grizzlies growl
Grimly when they eat.
With grabby claws
They fill their paws
With veggies, fruit, and meat.

Grandma grizzlies’ “grrrs” are sweet,
Their love to spoil their cubs
With grasshopper grits,
Cherry pits,
And gruel with greasy grubs.

We think gruel with grubs is gross
But grand-cub grizzlies slurp it,
They grin and groan,
Grunt and moan,
And roll their eyes and burp it.

Mary Jo used her special skills and talents to create classroom activities that teachers can follow to reinforce the subject sound in fun, useful ways. She managed to find all sorts of connections to common core standards and core subjects. What originally began as an idea for one book grew over time into the series of five titles.

Our publisher flew us to California where we spent a laughter-filled day recording all the poems so that each of the books contains a CD of our voices reading the poems in that volume.

If you know someone who should know about this series, I hope you’ll pass along the information, you can open and search for LEARNING THROUGH POETRY.

New webinar

Hi, everyone,

A new experience for me. Three hours from the time of this posting I’ll join Mary Jo Fresch in recording a 20-minute webinar about our new 5-book series — LEARNING THROUGH POETRY.The leader of the program is Kim Bernard with Shell Education. Kim will speak from California. Mary Jo from Ohio, and I’ll pitch in from Florida.
Yesterday we had a practice session that went well so today is the real deal. We’ve been reminded to turn everything off that might make a noise and even to watch the sound of paper being shuffled.

After the webinar has been shown at sales meetings I believe it will be available to other viewers, perhaps through the Shell/TCM websites. Fingers crossed.


Poetry word list challenge

Hi everyone,

I recently finished 96 poems, each of which demonstrates a different sound (phoneme) that children learn in the process of becoming readers. The five books, called LEARNING THROUGH POETRY and co-written with Mary Jo Fresch, a professor at Ohio University, are published by Shell Education. In each case I began with a list of words that featured the subject sound and looked for something to write about that would use as many as possible of those words. I thought that some of you might like to try it too. Here is a word list that features the blended sound CR. I’ll keep this posted for a while and then show you what I wrote based on this list. Your target audience is preK-2. This also makes a great exercise for teachers and students in the classroom.

crab, crack, cracker, cradle, craft, crane, crash, crave, crawfish, crawl, crayon, crazy, credit, creek, creep, crib, cricket, cried, critter, croak, crocodile, crook, croon, crop, cross, crow, crowd, crown, crumb, crunch, crust, cry.