1st grade poems help our students learn to read and write. They learn about rhythm and rhyme, and the sheer joy of freely expressing their imaginations.
Problem is SOME first graders take everything you say LITERALLY!
Of course, that's natural because that's the stage of development some of them are still in.
But sometimes they confuse “artful expressions” with reality. Take, for example, the following 1st grade poem ...
It’s Monday, and today I asked my first graders to memorize the first part of a short poem. They will study this part of the poem all week, and recite it in class on Friday.
Before they received a copy of it, I introduced it to them.
“Class," I said, "the title of the poem is What are Little Boys Made Of? And here's the first part of the poem ...
“Dog tails?” Loegan questioned.
“Naw!” Martin said, amazed.
“Frogs?” Joe Joe asked incredulously. “You kiddin’ … I love frogs!”
“It’s a poem," I explained, "written by a man who used his imagination to write it." I gave them the background details of the poem.
Martin broke in with an explanation. “So you mean ... it ain’t real."
“Listen ... Do you hear the rhythm? The rhyme?” With my hands I clapped the rhythm and cadence of the poem as I recited it again.
The children seemed satisfied, for the time being.
Later, today, at recess, Joe Joe found a frog.
Whenever Amy saw it, she squealed with delight, “Oh, look, one of God’s little creatures!”
Snatching up the frog, Joe Joe covered it gently with both his hands and held it close to his heart. “I don’t care WHOSE he is,” he huffed. “He’s mine now!”
On Thursday, Joe Joe had memorized the poem. And here’s how I knew …
He appeared at my elbow with his tattered copy of the poem. “Look, Teacher!” he demanded, and then squeezed his eyes shut.
“Watch me! I can read this WHOLE PAGE with my eyes closed." And he did. (So cute!)
Finally, it’s Friday … I’m eager for my first graders’ recitations! This is really good training for them ...
Everyone sat quietly as - one by one - each student went to the front of the classroom and recited the poem.
After the first three recitations, Joe Joe smacked his ruler, HARD on his desk. WHAAACK!
“NO FAIR!” he yelled. “Everybody’s saying MY POEM!”
“Boys and girls, here’s the other part of the poem you'll learn next week, What are little girls made of?”
“Hey, I already know that one!” Joe Joe interrupted. “Sugar, water, and DIRT!”
While some of the boys were hunkered over, snickering, the girls sat stunned, and shocked into silence.
“Ooooh … we’ll have NONE of that,” I said, not batting an eye.
With a roll of the eyes and a tooth suck, Joe Joe folded his arms and plopped them across his little chest. “Hmmph!”
Then, calmly, I continued because teaching, just as parenting, ALWAYS requires the hard part - being a good example.
“Teacher,” Martin stated forthrightly, “I got somethin’ to say.”
“Yes?” I nodded, encouraging him to go ahead.
He sighed reflectively … Then, brightening up, he went on. “Well, I thank if you said BOYS is made out of SNAILS and DOG TAILS, dirt ain’t so bad.”
His classmate slowly began nodding in agreement. Even the girls.
And, although I liked that he had used higher-level thinking skills to compare and contrast, and to come up with that conclusion - he had taken me literally!
See? It’s like this … In first grade, we take a giant step forward. Then, sometimes, a small step backward.
But I remind myself not to worry TOO much about it because I know often it involves another one of their developmental stages.
Then, I simply enjoy the journey because I know that - just as the turtles do - we will all get there, eventually.
* * *
And this is just one of the MANY reasons why I love my kiddos and 1st grade poems!