Color Poems on World Poetry Day


Yesterday was World Poetry Day and it also so happened to be my weekly meeting with the third graders in my writer’s circle group. I was a little on edge because the week before, one of my students had started sobbing twenty minutes into our meeting, while writing Haiku poetry.  But, as I arrived at school, all six students were smiling at me at they grabbed their writing materials from their desks and backpacks, enthusiastically entering our designated room. This included the student who had been so upset the week before! Ahhh, I could breathe a sigh of relief!  Things were going to go well today; I could tell.

This was our third week of our poetry unit. We were starting color poems. The idea to include color poetry in our unit was prompted by a book I inherited from my mom’s third grade classroom called Hailstones and Halibut Bones (1961) by Mary O’Neill. 

Halistones and Halibut Bones

It is a wonderful book, full of words that beautifully illustrate what I want to convey to the students. Vividness, mental imagery, showing without telling, flow, and personalization. This book helps me to impress upon the students the importance of writing what comes to THEIR mind when they think of a certain color, not just what people might expect when thinking of the all colors in their world. Hopefully, it will guide them in conveying THEIR images of THEIR choosen color to THEIR readers.

I always try to model what I want the students to accomplish. So yesterday, on World Poetry Day, I read O’Neill’s poems on the color black and the color red, as well as the poem I wrote last year on Cerulean. To allow the students to develop strong mental images of their chosen color, I had them pick “normal colors” for this first color poem attempt.  The students ended up with blue, yellow, orange, green, purple, and red. Making lists of nouns (mostly things and places) and then, descriptors to match the nouns was their job in our brief writer’s circle meeting yesterday. Over the week, they will start their poems, returning next Tuesday to get some feedback and continue writing their color poems. It won’t be World Poetry Day then, but everyday is a good day to write poetry!  Don’t you agree?


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