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"A Good Poem Can Jolt Our Minds" by Eileen

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

Painting from an upcoming book by Julie Paschkis, The Wordy Book,with quote by Pablo Neruda

A good poem can jolt our minds…. In early March I happened to read a small article in the New York Times about how poetry is used to start morning meetings at the National Desk.  It struck a note with me and came back to mind when Lake and Park teachers gathered after our last Winterim trip to face the news that schools throughout Washington were closing due to Covid-19. We would now make plans for how we would begin to create School Away from School.  The arts are an integral part of all we do at Lake and Park.  The walls of the classrooms and stairwell and shared spaces are filled with student work. As children move throughout the school building, I often overhear comments about the work. It is one of the ways we get to know each other across the grades. Putting the children’s work up on the wall honors the child’s effort in the creation, it inspires others to take the risk of sharing their ideas, the risk we all take when trying to communicate. Will I be understood? Will my idea matter? Will I be able to connect with others?  When we bring the arts into our studies, children learn to communicate their ideas and understanding through painting, poetry, drawing, music and dance.  A major part of “learning by doing” at Lake and Park involves the messy risk taking required when we attempt to communicate. 

Judah uses the form of a poem and makes it his own.

The inspiration that encourages the necessary risk taking for learning often comes from sharing a poem. The courage to take the risk often comes from the support we feel when learning in community. How can we tap into our joint efforts when learning remotely? How do we channel the bravery we see in others to create our own feeling of strength and courage?  Offering a poem each week on our School Away from School virtual bulletin board is a small reminder that we are a community, learning together.  Read the poem together as a family, jump rope to the poem, watch videos of your classmates reciting the poem, make art and share it with the whole school community. Sitting with a single poem all week allows time for the poem to blossom inside you. It may also remind you of another poem, and if it does, share that poem with your family. Share it with the school community on the bulletin board stream.  Make Sunday dinner the night everyone brings a poem to the table to share. Why not?

“Otherwise” by Aileen Fisher

Otherwise There must be magic, Otherwise, How could day turn into night? And how could sailboats, Otherwise, Go sailing out of sight? And how could peanuts, Otherwise, Be covered up so tight?

School Away from School is still new to all of us. Here is some of the work from the last two weeks that children are doing with poetry. Children have used the poems as a starting place for drawing and writing their own poems.

By Teague

Otherwise by Gus

There must be magic


How could birds be so graceful in flight?

And how could seagulls


be so very white?

And how could owls


Go flying in the night?

A biography of Aileen Fisher by Caroline

By Sid

We shared a favorite poem from Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, “Keep a Poem in your Pocket”

Keep a poem in your pocket

and a picture in your head

and you’ll never feel lonely

at night when you’re in bed.

The little poem will sing to you

the little picture bring to you

a dozen dreams to dance to you

at night when you’re in bed.


Keep a picture in your pocket

and a poem in your head

and you’ll never feel lonely

at night when you’re in bed.

Some children responded with poems of their own:


By Lola

Dreams are special

you hold on to them so tight

if you lose them they will go out of sight.

My dream is to paint a beautiful picture

and to get my own trampoline.

On my trampoline I will jump super high.

I will paint the sky and the birds passing by.

But I really want a trampoline so I can jump super high.

The Wonderful Place

by India

This is the wonderful place in my mind

I’m in a field of flowers

With a caramel river

And in that place

Ice cream grows off trees

You don’t have to worry about anything

There’s sparkles in the wind

And glitter on my shirt

You can swing the highest swings

And slide the longest slides

And fairies fly through the air

It’s a wonderful place

The lemonade is pink

The cotton candy is rainbow color

You can lift up to the clouds

On a cotton candy unicorn

It rains sprinkles

You can wish a wish

And it does come true

When you plant a flower and water it

It will grow right up

And the bees will come buzzing over

To drink the nectar

One Night I had a Dream, poem and illustration by Rhea

One Night I had a Dream

By Rhea

One night I had a dream

And one day I had another

A magical thing.

Though sometimes a great bother.

Do not let your dreams

Be sharpened into fear.

For if fear is around

Other things may be hiding near.

A poem by Ione

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