Poetry Friday: Food Love and A Special Announcement

Thank you, Linda B. at TeacherDance for rounding up all the poetry goodness this week.

This week upon arrival to the school I was subbing at, the person was there and gave me the opportunity to write poetry with her two fifth grade classes. I think it caught the students off guard (especially first thing in the morning and they are less familiar with me than my former school).  I made some adjustments and the second class took off.

I used the lesson from the poetry of Janet Wong’s A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE.  It’s food poems are the best to lead off for writing to poems.

I like using the “Skinny”poem format as it’s quick in a short time  space (30 minutes). Everyone has a strong reaction to food that being you either love or hate particular foods.

The ‘Skinny” poem consists of eleven lines.  Three lines are the SAME word (in this case food). The first and the last line should be the same sentence. The remaining six lines are single words or a word phrase to describe the food.

These are general instructions for writing and I am not strict about following them as my main goal with students is to experimenting, playing with words, and hopefully a poem will result.

Made with Padlet


Could It Be the Return of Student Poetry Postcards?

Stayed Tuned!


Poetry Friday: Skinny Poems Based on Poems from Pet crazy

Thanks to Kat at Kathryn Apel for hosting  all the goodness of Poetry Friday today.

This week I was in first grade for two days.  I was given time to share and teach poetry.  I used Pet Crazy by Sylvia Vardell  and Janet Wong to prime the pump.  Who doesn’t want a pet or have a pet?

I specially used the Anchor Poem, Response Poem, and Mentor Poem written by Kristy Dempsey and Janet Wong

[Anchor Poem]:

by Kristy Dempsey

Tippy-toe, Kitty Cat
is sneaking through the house,
pushing on a puff of yarn,
wishing for a mouse.
Kitty loves to play all day,
jumping, pouncing, leaping.
Where is kitty hiding now?
Shh! Kitty’s sleeping.


[Response Poem]:

by Janet Wong

Cats are
     the greatest pets ever!

They are
     so clean and clever.

Would I like
     a dog? No, never!

Cats are
     my favorites -- FOREVER!

[Mentor Poem]:

by Janet Wong

Kristy likes neat pets.
Cats don’t drool.

She should meet my uncle’s dogs.
They’re super-cool.

My uncle’s dogs will sit and stay —
and stay and s-t-a-y.

Their house is kind of far,
but we could go there someday.

When we play together,
Kristy will see:

dogs are pretty much
the perfect pets for me!

Plus I found this great quick video of Janet reading to Tony Tiger: 
The class and I made a list of pets and a list of juicy words. We talked about the format of a skinny poem and with a template, off they went to create. Then as students finished we uploaded to Padlet. This give an opportunity to confer and revise with students. 

Made with Padlet
Next week, I will be hosting Poetry Friday at DEOWRITER.

Poetry Friday: December Short Poems

IMG_1077Welcome.  Thank you, Tanita at [fiction, instead of lies] for hosting the Poetry Friday Community today.

Yesterday was spent in third grade.  This teacher teams with her neighbor so I was able to teach two poetry lessons.

I used SANTA CLAUSES, SHORT POEMS from the NORTH POLE by Bob Raczka as the mentor text.img-06942519981825254125739.jpg
While, the first page of the book, describes Santa’s love of haiku, I focused on the idea that these are short poems and shared the December Word List that was created for our December Haiku challenge.

Each class created a group poem:

here are the geese
they ate the cookies
from the bakery


drinking hot chocolate
that reindeer made
(the kids filled in this last line)

in the forest
sparkly snowflakes dropped
on my skin

day before Christmas
Santa fell down the chimney
into the kettle

~PM Class

By using Padlet, I can confer with students and upload their poem with immediacy.

Made with Padlet

Next week, I hope to have fourth grade short poems.


Poetry Friday: In November by Kindergarten

I’m giving thanks to Rebecca at Sloth Reads for hosting our Poetry Friday this week.

Yesterday, I subbed in Mrs. Henderson’s K class. I read the book In November by Cynthia Rylant to get these eighteen students thinking about the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of November.

I decided to “prime the pump” by having the students draw what they saw, heard, smelled or tasted before gathering to create the group poem. This also allowed to break up the sitting time and followed by recess, they were ready to come together and share their ideas.

In November by Mrs. Henderson’s Class

In November,
I see no leaves trees
I smell turkey
I taste pumpkin pie
I give thanks for my family

In November,
I see bees
I hear crows, “Ka-Kawing, ka-kawing”
I smell beef
I taste turkey
I give thanks for the whole world

In November,
I see the leaves not moving on the trees
I hear an owl, “Hoo-Hoo, hoo-hoo”
I smell mashed potatoes
I taste beef jerky
I give thanks for food

In November,
I see my family
I hear the wind
I smell gravy
I taste green beans
I give thanks for potatoes not mashed


Poetry Friday: Second Grade Monsters

Thanks to Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for hosting Poetry Friday.

It’s November 1, all monsters have gone to sleep. Or have they? On Monday, I had the opportunity to sub in a second grade class.

Originally I was going to do an “I Come From” poetry lesson and then I remember what week it was, Michelle H. Barnes Ditty Challenge, and decided we would all be better served thinking of monsters.

I started by sharing Amanda Noll’s HOW I MET MY MONSTER. It was really fun because I had read the first one to them as kinders (they were my last kinder class).

I shared some of the poems from Michelle’s Padlet along with my Book Monster poem. We then created a list on monsters and fears. They went to their desks and started writing and illustrated. Throughout the day, we loaded them on Padlet (although I added the illustrations later as the computer didn’t have a built in camera.). Apologies that some illustrations don’t come through.

Made with Padlet

Poetry Friday: Honoring. #DearOneLBH and a Guest Blogger: Janet Clare Fagal

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Amy at The Poem Farm for hosting this wonderful celebration about our Dear One, Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Today at this blog, I am turning it over to Janet Clare Fagal for her poem tribute to Lee Bennett Hopkins.

DISCLAIMER: I am out of town, Ms IPad is NOT cooperating, thus this is a bit of formatting wonkiness. I had to screen shot Janet’s beautiful tribute poem and reflection so that you might be able to read it. Apologies.

Thank you to Jone for allowing me to post my poem for Lee on her blog today. I am eternally grateful for Lee’s invitation that led to my poem, “A Mermaid’s Tale” being included in his latest anthology, I AM SOMEONE ELSE, Poems About Pretending. It was a joy working with him. He was an exacting editor, but he encouraged and taught and enjoyed helping beginners like me. I treasure his friendship and his belief in me, as do so many others! Such a Pied Piper of Poetry ! How we will all miss him.

Invitations, Poems and Lee:

a poem of thanksgiving

By Janet Clare Fagal

Good poems.
Good rhymes
Good edits
Good lines
Good writing
Good drafts
Good words
Good laughs
Good poets
Good starts
Good people
Good hearts
Good writers
Good rhymes
Good poems
Great times

© all rights reserved

Janet reading to her granddaughter with quite the facial expression on Janet that Lee liked.

Thank you, Janet, for sharing you poem and connection with Lee with our Poetry Friday community.

Poetry Friday: Long Lost Treasures

Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading has all the poetry goodness of the world. This week many in the Poetry Friday Literasphere are celebrating our new Young People’s Poet Laureate, Naomi Shihab Nye.

Today you can read about Naomi Shihab Nye at Deowriter.

I’ve been organizing my writing room and that means finding some long lost treasures from former students.

Well, you can see how long ago this poem is, look at that printing! Lauren was either in 5th or 6th grade.


People fly kites across
the sand
Kids play,
Shells wash up on the beach,
the blue and green water makes
crashing waves!
Sometimes things
get eaten and are never found,
fish jump with the whales

Lauren M, 5th or 6th grade

Land of the Elephants

Upon my bed, I dream of 8,000 pound elephants looking at me,
motioning me to follow them.
We walk for hours.
I rest curled up beside them all
under the starry night.
Wakening from deep sleep, I find myself on an elephant’s back.
We get to the edge of Africa.
everyone is as still as night,
The elephants blow their outstanding trunks;
I listen to its sweetness.
Magically a cloud falls from the heavenly sky.
My elephant puts me on this fluffy cloud
the cloud whips me through the air with ease
I find myself at a golden gate with elephants this land full of animals
they changed my clothes into a white gown
I lay on a bed of clouds looking Dow to my city.
Then I found myself on my bed surrounded by elephants.

Tanisha M, 5th grade

Back during this time, when testing wasn’t a priority and there weren’t blogs for posting student work, I coordinated a monthly First Friday for students to read a page from their stories or poems. We had such great fun.

I am lucky to have had these two wonderful girls who have grown into fabulous adults with careers and families.


Dani at Doing the Work That Matters won a copy of A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE. Email me at macrush53 at yahoo dot com so I can get your address.

Poetry Friday: An Interview with Janet Wong

Today, Dani at Doing the Work That Matters is bringing us all things poetry at the round up.

And here at Check It Out, I am thrilled to be interviewing Janet Wong about A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE. I have had such great success using this book as a mentor text during my recent time in classrooms. Food and family are such inspiring topics. Kids can relate to food and have strong emotions around food. It was such a delight to see them write their poems.

JRM: How did it come to be that you were able to re-issue an updated edition of A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE?

JW: A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED was published originally by McElderry Books (part of Simon & Schuster) in 1996. When it went out of print in 2006, the rights reverted to me. Right away I made a simple paperback reprint of the original book through BookSurge/CreateSpace, but last year I decided that I really wanted to tell the stories behind the poems and expand the scope of the book to make it more useful in a classroom. Sylvia Vardell and I create books through Pomelo Books (PomeloBooks.com), but our Poetry Friday books are somewhat different in flavor from this book, so I published this book through my YUZU imprint.

JRM: I love the backstory from the poem, “A Suitcase of Seaweed”.  I can just picture the anticipation of presents from grandmother and then the disappointed to find food instead.  What prompted you to write the backstory of many of these poems?

JW: I speak to children at many school visits each year, and I find that putting a poem in a “sandwich” of backstory and questions is a fun and effective technique. It’s not something I’d ever done in writing before this book, but I think it worked really well to give the established text a whole new twist.

JRM: Were there notes to look back on in order to write the new material, the back story?

JW: I think I might have notes and multiple drafts somewhere in a box in my garage, but I relied on memory for the backstories here.

JRM: I’m really questioning how it is that I have never tried kimchi.  I love cabbage, chili peppers, and garlic. What do you eat kimchi with or is it eaten alone?

JW: If you are a traditional Korean person, you eat kimchi with everything—and alone, too! Kimchi and several other little dishes of mung bean sprouts, boiled spinach, soy-soaked chili peppers, little fish, shredded squid, black beans, potato salad, etc.—“banchan” or “panchan”—will appear at every dinner (and often at lunch and breakfast), along with rice.

JRM: Were you at all tempted to revise the poems besides adding the new text boxes?  Were there poems that didn’t make the book?

JW: Yes, I was tempted to revise—but decided that it was best to leave the poems alone. All of the poems made the book.

JRM: In the poem, “Sisters”, you explain that the poem is really about your mother.  Did you ever let your mom know about the poem?

JW: No, I never told my mom that she was my sister in one of my books. She used to love it, though, when people would mistake us for sisters, especially after I turned fifty and my hair started turning gray. One stranger even told her that I looked like her OLDER sister! She really loved hearing that.

JRM: What do you hope readers will take away from A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE?

JW: I hope that readers will feel inspired to write about their own family memories—and snippets of memories. Poems are perfect for capturing little memories—an image, a taste, a funny saying.

JRM: Your “Advice for Writers” is spot on.  Especially the starting small and making the time to write. I have been thinking a lot about organizing poems.  Do you categorize your poems as you write so they’re easy to locate? What tips might you have?

JW: I wish I were organized enough to categorize my poems as I write! But one thing that I feel—and I think it’s a healthy thing—is that it’s OK to write something and do nothing with it. It’s OK if it gets lost. It’s OK if no one ever sees it. But if a person wants to share, and have other people read and talk about her work, then she shouldn’t just wait for a traditional publisher to say yes. Go ahead and use KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) or another company (Ingram Spark, Lulu, Blurb, etc.) to get it out in the world. Work like crazy on a book, get it done, and spread the word!

JRM: Yes, I agree! I’ve used KPD and Blurb for a couple of photo and poetry books. What is one food that all readers who read A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE should run out and try?

JW: Seaweed, of course! It’s funny that my grandmother needed to bring seaweed in her suitcase so that my mother could have it, and yet now you can buy it even at Walmart and Costco.

JRM: How does one choose a good restaurant for Asian food?

JW: Word-of-mouth and Yelp! Readers: if you need a recommendation for an Asian restaurant, just email me with your city name. I’m pretty fanatic about food (especially Chinese, Korean, and Japanese food) very good at sifting through Yelp reviews, and I also have tried a lot of restaurants (particularly in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Central Jersey, and Philadelphia). And if you HAVE a recommendation for an Asian restaurant that you love, let me know! (janet@janetwong.com)

Students wanted to know: What is your favorite food?

JW: Japanese: sushi (sweet shrimp, albacore), ramen (fresh extra firm noodles and broth cooked at least 24 hours); Chinese: dim sum (ha gow – shrimp dumplings), wonton noodle soup (shrimp and pork wontons with Hong Kong style thin but chewy egg noodles), soup dumplings, ma la (spicy tingling) beef tendon; Korean: soon dae (blood sausage); Mexican: cochinita pibil tacos (very soft stewed pork tacos with small corn tortillas), empanadas with potato; Italian: gnocchi (potato dumplings); Swedish: potato pancakes; Danish: potato chips (I had the BEST potato chips ever in Iceland, a Danish brand called Kim) . . . I think the better question is: what foods don’t I like? (Answer: I’m trying to stay away from processed foods that contain ingredients I can’t pronounce.)


I love this book SO much that I have an extra copy to give away this week. Please leave a comment and I will let the winner know next Friday.


What to see some very fun food poems? Visit these posts:


Friday, May 17, 2019

Monday, May 20, 2019

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Thursday, May 23, 2019

More Food Poems

Have you read this book?

If not, you need to buy it now or find it at your local library. It’s a great mentor text for getting students to think about their cultural background. Janet Wong published this book twenty-three years ago and just recently added back stories to the poems. Tomorrow I will have her interview.

Today, please enjoy the fourth grade food poems. For details on the HOW-TO of this lesson, visit this POST. I love how students made the assignment their own.

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