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May 6, 2013 Poems for Mom: A Perfect Gift By Julie Ballew
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    It’s the same story every year: In the fall, I can’t imagine that May will ever get here, but when it finally does, I’m always shocked at how quickly it has come. Now that it's here and Mother’s Day is around the corner, many students are working on special gifts for Mom.

    Last week, I visited Kathy Howie’s kindergarten class as they were sharing some published poetry with each other. They were wrapping up their poetry unit, so it made perfect sense for them to publish some poems as a gift for Mom (or Grandma, or any special person). The poems were just precious and clearly came straight from the heart. This kind of work can easily be adapted for any grade, so if you’re looking for a heartfelt Mother’s Day gift, maybe you could encourage your students to write poems like these.

    Free Verse Poems

    The photo at the top of this post is of a free verse poem written by a kindergarten student. This kind of poetry is a great first step, as free verse poetry has no set of rules; students simply try to make their feelings come across on the page. Of course, this is not as easy as it sounds, but the lack of limitations allows students to jump into poetry without fear. And what could be sweeter than a free verse poem about Mom?

    Just in case you're not fluent in kindergarten handwriting, the poem at the top says, “My mom is as pretty as a red diamond in the sky. She is like red poppies. She loves me always. She’s the best mommy ever in my heart.”

    Hand Poems

    Ms. Howie’s students were sharing their hand poems with each other when I visited. They wrote these concrete poems independently after Ms. Howie shared the following example with them.

    Example of Hand Poem

    (This example was found here.)

    Concrete poems, also known as shape poems, are written so that the shape of the poem matches the content. Some students chose to write about their own hands, just like the example. Other students chose to write about their mom’s hands or their dad’s hands. I was so impressed with the statements these young students were able to make when they thought about their hands through the eyes of a poet.

    Student Poem

    “My hand can help me go up high. And it can make my heart back together.”


    Student Poem

    “My mom’s hand loves me and hugs me. My mom’s hand cooks and cooks and cooks. My mom’s hand makes me go to sleep. My mom’s hands are great.”


    Student Poem

    "My dad’s hands hold my hand. My dad can pick up a house. My dad can pick up a building. I love his hands."


    “This Is Me” Poems

    When I saw this third kind of poem, I immediately thought of the book Looking Like Me by Walter Dean Myers. In this book, the main character, Jeremy, is looking in the mirror and naming what he sees. His family and friends pass by in a parade, adding titles like brother, son, and dancer to his list. I shared this book with Ms. Howie, and she agreed that it fit perfectly with the descriptive poems her students were writing. To make this gift complete, each student included a self-portrait. What mother wouldn’t love a picture of her child through his or her own eyes?

    At the kindergarten level, these poems are lists of descriptive words. For older students, this task could be made more complex by asking them to use some poetic devices like simile or personification. I especially love that this poem doubles as an exercise in building self-esteem.

    Looking Like Me by Walter Dean Myers     Student Poem

    I know that May will leave as quickly as it came, and another school year will be in the books. I look forward to sharing some end-of-the-year ideas with you in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!


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Susan Cheyney