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April 30, 2015 I Love You the Purplest: A Mother's Day Poem By Kriscia Cabral
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    Mother’s Day is right around the corner! Are you ready? Here’s a quick writing lesson that can be turned into a heartfelt Mother’s Day poem.

    I am such a big fan of student writing. If there is one thing I love to see children do, it is to bring their ideas to life on paper. For this lesson I start with the mentor text, I Love You the Purplest by Barbara M Joosse. This book displays the love a mother has for her children as they each ask her which one she loves more. As you read the story, the mother goes on to explain how each child holds a special place in her heart and how she loves them equally but in different ways. The beautiful words match the lovely watercolors that compliment each page.


    Start With a Mentor Text

    As we read the book, we stop and discuss how the boys are looking for Mama to decide who does each activity better (picking worms, rowing the boat, etc.). We focus on the last few pages of the book where the boys ask, “Mama, who do you love more?” We read Mama’s words and talk about how she answers her children. We talk about the words she uses to describe her love for each. We talk about how Mama uses colors to describe her love for each child, and never says that she loves one more than the other. We talk about Mama’s words and how she describes the color with a visual of what she sees when that color comes to mind, "I love you the color of a cave in its deepest, hidden part . . . "

    I make a copy of just the words that Mama says at the end of the story and create a template for students to follow. I tell students that we are going to use Mama’s words to create our own "I Love You" poems except our poems are going to be made for our moms.

    Brainstorming Ideas

    To set this up, I first start with a brainstorm. I ask students to think of colors that remind them of their moms. Students raise their hands and name colors and reasons why the color reminds them of their mom. Many share their mom’s favorite color, which is always a great place to start. Some talk about a color and how it makes them feel when they think about their mom. I like this open dialogue because it gives those who could think of nothing a great place to start.

    I take the color examples that have been shared and create a web of “Mom’s colors.” Beneath each color I ask students to think of a way to describe the color, just like Mama did in the story we read. I take examples and write them down.

    Model as a Class


    I then model how I plan to take the template of the excerpt from the book, the colors that we brainstormed, and the thoughts I have about my own mom to piece my writing together.

    I project the template on the board and ask the class to help me complete my sample. We refer back to the words in the book and notice the rhyme scheme of Mama’s words and then write A, B, C, B, on our template as on option for rhyming.

    At this time I tell students that the template they are receiving is just that, a template! They are more than welcome to change it however they would like to. They even have the option to start from scratch and not use the template at all. The template is a starting place and not set in stone for student writing. I emphasize this because I want all original poets to feel comfortable to write what they will and not what I am expecting them to do. It is more meaningful when it comes from their hearts.

    I send students off with their brainstorm of color options, a template, and mentor text to use as a guide for their “I Love You the Mostest” poems.

    I monitor student progress as they work. I stop and check poems, ask questions, and assist in finding rhyming words. Once rough drafts are complete, students get their work checked, and then type a final copy for publishing.

    Ideas for Final Product

    I print poems on a choice of color or white paper. Students can decorate around the poem and then I add a handprint and/or a picture of each child posing or holding a flower with their poem. One year I went to a dollar store and bought frames for each poem and framed them. The final product is really up to you and what you have time and finances for. 

    The piece that I love is the writing that comes from students at that moment in time. Their words are irreplaceable and it is a memory moms can have always.

    Have any ideas for Mother's Day? I'd love to hear them!

    Thank you for reading.




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Susan Cheyney