I chose this poem because
it features a family tradition. Family traditions are a fascinating subject for children to discuss. They come up with
such a variety of stories. I also like the idea of luck. Children will enjoy talking about their different lucky objects and
how the objects became lucky.
Good Luck Gold
When I was a baby
one month old,
my grandparents gave me
good luck gold:
a golden ring
so soft it bends,
a golden necklace
hooked at the ends,
a golden bracelet
with coins that say
I will be rich
and happy someday.
I wish that gold
I need my luck
poem to your class slowly through the first time and then again a second time with emphasis on the line breaks. Use this poem
from kindergarten through high school. Children of all ages can discuss their lucky objects and then write poetry about them.
(middle and high school) can extend this discussion into whether or not we can change our luck, and how a positive or negative
attitude can affect this change.
poetry subject could detail a lucky or unlucky day and how it became that way.
subject for children to discuss and write poetry about would be family traditions; ethnic, religious and cultural. This can
be supplemented with a trip to the library to research different traditions. The class could sponsor a "Family Day" where
older family members visit the classroom and discuss the traditions that they grew up with.
Wong, Janet. 1994. Good Luck Gold
and Other Poems. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689506171
This poem is an excellent way to have middle and high school students
discuss the importance of friendship.
I had forgotten you, friend.
Is that why you came
into my dream?
I had forgotten you.
When I fall asleep again,
will you leave your address
on my pillow?
poem slowly to the class of middle or high schoolers. Have a student read it the second time. Discuss with the students the
meaning of friendship. Have the students write a poem about a friend they had when they were younger.
exercise would be the subject of dreaming. Bring dream dictionaries from the libraries. Have the children research different
interpretations of dreams and then write a poem about a dream (either real or imagined).
Wong, Janet S. 2003. Knock
on Wood: Poems about Superstitions. Ill. by Julie Paschkis. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689588125
is about friendship, adventure, having fun without a lot of money and a commitment to work. This is a great poem
for high school students to read and discuss.
Daddy and Shin
I love it when you tell the story,
you and Shin,
me and Shin,
we're fresh out of high school
and we're bored
and we're hot
and we are not going to waste
our time sitting around
so we hop in Shin's car,
drive north up the coast,
just how far we'll go
on twenty bucks
and still get back
to work the shift.
I love the part where you roll
roll down the hills in neutral,
roll to save some gas
how could you drive? –
strip the gears? –
how could you drive like that?
When we make it
up to Monterey
we dig for clams
with driftwood sticks,
eat five cans of cold baked beans
and as the tide is coming in
and as the sun is sinking fast,
full of gas
we drive straight
Read the poem slowly the first time. Have a student read the second
time. A variety of subjects can be discussed with the class: friendship, road trips, no money, jobs, and work ethics. Have
the teens brainstorm subjects taken from the poem to discuss, then vote on a couple to discuss and have the teens each create
their own poem on that subject.
Wong, Janet. 1999. Behind the Wheel: Poems about Driving.Ill. by Janet Wong. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689825315
A beautiful tribute to a mother, read this to graders for Mother’s Day.
In Mother's Shadow
I walk behind Mother
through the woods
not to touch the poison oak
she points to with her stick.
She sees snakes before
She finds her way
by the smell of the trees.
She stops to rest
the very moment
my shoes grow
and gives me water,
gives me shade
in her steady
Read to the children
once, then read it again and ask them to close their eyes and picture themselves as the child in the poem. Ask the children
to think of a time when they felt protected and special and write a poem about it.
Because there are
many nontraditional families, mention that they are writing about the feeling of being safe and the time and person or persons
that helped them feel this way.
1999. The Rainbow Hand: Poems about Mothers and Children.Ill. by Jennifer Hewitson. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689821484
A poem for high
school students, especially juniors and seniors that are enrolled in Driver's Education.
When a Cop Stops
When a cop stops you,
what can you do?
Grab your leg and moan in pain?
I would if I could
but I know I would laugh.
So I sit there, waiting,
When the cop walks up,
I stare at his feet.
I give him my papers.
I listen. I nod.
When he lets me go –
Have a student read
the poem, then have another student read the poem. Compare where they paused in the readings and discuss whether that changed
the meaning of the poem at all.
Have the students
write poems to share with the class about their first driving experiences.
Wong, Janet. 1999. Behind the Wheel: Poems about Driving. Ill. by Janet Wong. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689825315
This poem is interesting on two different levels; a dog being man's
best friend, and from the historical perspective of living through the Depression.
GongGong and Susie
Susie sure is good
Got to be.
I treat her right.
kill a skunk.
Did I tell you?
I did eat
Take out them
with garlic, onion.
Skunk, snake, night owl,
I eat them
It was Depression time.
No work, nothing
We hunt, we fish, we camp.
Hey Susie, Susie,
want to eat
This poem should
be definitely read through to the class at least twice.
Approach the poem
on one of two levels; smaller children will enjoy discussing pets and how a pet can be a good friend. This can be followed
up with them writing a poem about a favorite pet they've know.
Older children can
tackle the issues people faced during the Depression. For example, "Can you imagine being hungry enough to eat skunk?" The
followup activity can be the teens' researching the Depression and writing in poem format about the adversities people faced
and how they dealt with them
Wong, Janet S. 1996. A Suitcase of Seaweed and Other Poems.
New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689807880
Potential! That is what this poem is about to me. I think this is an
excellent poem for children to realize that inside of each of them lurks an amazing amount of potential.
There Is a Place
There is a place
where the museum houses thousands of paintings
seen nowhere else in the world,
the colors so bright they grab your eyes
and hold you there, looking,
where the library is filled with brand new books
waiting for you to open them first,
to tell stories only you could know,
where fresh cherries have no pits,
where puppies never grow old.
There is such a place,
Read the poem to
any grade, slowly. On the second reading have them close their eyes and visualize the place mentioned in the poem.
Ask each child to
write a poem about the hidden world that is hidden inside each of them. Have the children write a poem about this world of
potential that exists inside of them.
Poems from the World of Dreams. Ill. by Julie Paschkis. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689826176
Children will enjoy discussing superstitions and luck. This will be
a fun activity for a day when the children are restless.
Potatoes for your pocket, Granny.
Let them wrinkle for you Granny.
Let them dry as hard as stones,
to pull the hurting from your bones.
Read the poem twice, have
the children (3rd - 5th grade) think about the possibilties of ordinary objects helping people feel better. Let them research
similar beliefs that exist. For example, people with Restless Legs Syndrome put a bar of Dial soap between their sheets and
claim that it significantly improves their condition. Gout can be cured (supposedly) by drinking a glass of cherry juice a
Then let the children
write a short poem explaining the condition and the common cure.
Wong, Janet S. 2003. Knock on Wood: Poems about Superstitions. Ill. by Julie Paschkis.
New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689588125
"Poetry is, in a
way, like shouting. Since you can't yell at the top of your lungs for a very long time, you have to decide what you really
need to say, and say it quickly."