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Poems Across America

Children's Poetry Unit - 5th Grade

Trista Luke

on 17 May 2010

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Transcript of Poems Across America

Poems Across
America A bibliography for a 5th-grade
poetry workshop unit. A bibliography for a 5th-grade
poetry workshop unit. This collection of books can be used as a flexible unit that acts as a companion to the American history and geography typically studied in the fifth grade classroom. American authors... ...poems about American history... ...and poems about American heroes! I have also included a how-to text. Shall we? Born in the
USA This unit will help deepen & enrich the
students' understanding of U.S. facts and history taught throughout the year and will provide an opportunity to develop language arts competencies in reading, writing, fluency, and comprehension. It features...
Jack Prelutsky is America's Children's
Poet Laureate. Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry:
How to Write a Poem Children love Jack's funny poems and his instruction on how to write poetry is easy and engaging - perfect for elementary students!
Jack resides in Washington state. by Jack Prelutsky
New York: Greenwillow Books,2008. 208 pages. This book includes writing prompts,
information on poetic forms, and humorous
anecdotes about writing. A teacher could
use excerpts from this book to introduce any
unit on poetry. The language and tone are
perfect for 5th graders. My Dog May Be
A Genius by Jack Prelutsky
New York: Greenwillow Books,2008. 160 pages. This book features short, humorous poems that are easy to read and understand. This would be a perfect choice to warm students up to a poetry unit. Many of the poems feature animals - such as "If You Were a Rhinoceros" and "A Fox Has Caught the Chickens" - and nonsense (as in "The Snabbit"). These poems would be excellent for preliminary discussions about rhyming and word choice. All About the States Where do you live? The next book features
poems and facts about all fifty states! My America: A Poetry
Atlas of the United States Ed. by Lee Bennett Hopkins,
Illustrated by Stephen Alcorn
New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2000. 83 pages. This poetry compilation lists practical facts such as state capitals, state birds and includes a variety of maps and illustrations. The poems are grouped according to region (Northeast, etc.) and each describes some aspect of that part of the country. Some very well-known poets, such as Carl Sandburg, are included in this book and there are poems of various lengths and styles.

This book would be a perfect introduction for a writing workshop focusing on writing poems about a student's own state, town, or region. U.S. History The next books feature... you guessed it... poems about American history. What teacher is going to argue with that? Hand In Hand: An American
History Through Poetry The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,
Illustrated by Christopher Bing
Brooklyn, NY: Handprint Books, 2001. 36 pages.
This magnificently illustrated Wadsworth poem is a wonderful, exciting read-aloud text that will easily whet any student's appetite to read poems about American history. This book also contains fascinating historical documents, such as the Deposition of Paul Revere, and may function as a discussion piece as well as a rich source for new vocabulary words. Edited by Lee Bennett Hawkins,
Illustrated by Peter M. Fiore
New York: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 1994. 144 pages. This compilation chronologically groups historical songs, poems, and speeches by excellent authors such as Longfellow, Whitman, Frost, and Hughes. This text can help introduce students to poems of more depth and subtlety than the previous books offered.

I would suggest that the students pick a poem and research the author and the time period that the poem is about. The students could then write their own poems about that time period. Heroes and She-roes: Poems of Amazing and Everyday Heroes by J. Patrick Lewis,
Illustrated by Jim Cooke
New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2005. 40 pages. This easy-to-read book is not all about Americans, but it does contain several poems about American heroes and icons such as Rosa Parks, the 9/11 firefighters, and Togo, the Alaskan rescue dog. This book provides yet another perspective on what it means to be an American and can provide an opportunity for students to discuss and write about their own heroes. American Heroes Who do we admire? Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer,
Illustrated by Christopher Bing
Brooklyn, NY: Handprint Books, 2000. 32 pages. This Caldecott-award-winning version of the 1888 classic "Casey at the Bat" is a must for any unit on American poetry and could serve as a perfect introduction - or finale - to this unit on American poetry. I suggest a dramatic reading, perhaps by a talented guest reader. This poem is still as engaging and fraught with tension as it was in 1888, and will no doubt have the children on the edge of their seats. Some other possibilities... Navajo: Visions and Voices
Across the Mesa by Shonto Begay
New York: Scholastic,Inc., 1995. 48 pages. This book contains poems that are appropriate (in content and language)for more advanced readers. It may be an appropriate choice for those exceptional students who crave more challenging material than their classmates can tackle. The theme here is thoroughly American - all the poems discuss the lives of the Native American Navajo people. I,Too, Sing America:
Three Centuries of African-American Poetry Edited by Catherine Clinton,
Illustrated by Stephen Alcorn
New York: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 1998. 128 pages.
This is another beautifully illustrated compilation of fine American poetry - in this case, all written by African-American authors. This book offers a variety of lengths and styles of poetry and would be provide an added cultural dimension to this unit. This collection of books is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many fine American poets that did not make it into this unit: Shel Silverstein, e.e. cummings, Robert Frost, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, and Maya Angelou, to name only a few. This is merely a selection of materials appropriate to this 5th-grade unit. I have also carefully selected these books in order to support a few additional concerns: Differentiation - There are sufficient choices to support a wide variety of reading levels. Maharishi's Principles of Ideal Teaching - Maharishi stresses the importance of teaching students the value of their own culture and their cultural heroes; this unit is wholly based on that principle. This unit also relates the parts to the whole in the sense that it ties together the students' personal experiences (through writing) with their fifth-grade language arts AND social studies curricula. Variety - there are funny poems, poems about nature, poems about people, short poems, long poems, and poets from a variety of backgrounds. I believe that there is something for everyone in this unit. Writing - these texts are all meant to support a writing workshop that continues throughout the unit, and I have given broad suggestions as to how the different books may be used to this end. Poems Across America by Jack Prelutsky A PLACE I'VE ALWAYS KNOWN There is a place I've always known,
a sort of secret hollow,
where only I may go alone,
and you may never follow. Throughout the day, throughout the night,
that place is always there,
but though you search with all your might,
you find no thoroughfare. You won't unearth it, though you look
beneath the salty sea,
atop a mountain, in a brook,
or by a leafy tree. But I can find it easily,
and never need a guide....
That place that's only known to me
is hidden deep inside. from "My Dog May Be a Genius," 2008 Trista S. Luke
Maharishi University of Management
May, 2010
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