On Saturday, September 21, I taught a writer’s workshop for the children in the Gifted Support Network at Spencer Creek Library in St. Peters, Missouri.
My husband assisted me… nine and ten-year olds tend to be a little energetic.
The first part of the workshop dealt with the components of a picture book, developing a story, and using a storyboard. Some of the children chose to pen their ideas first, then draw. Others drew, then created. Some of them found this part a bit challenging. But by first break, six children completed six stories and offered to read them aloud.
After break, we dove into “What is a poem?”
I explained to them how a poem can be about anything – it may or may not have punctuation, it’s how you feel, what you see, what you hear, or even what you touch.
I brought objects for them to help stir ideas for writing – a pearl, a seashell, a small piece of rope, a pebble from a lake, a building block, and an ink stamp. I spoke of different poetry styles – free verse, rhyming, Haiku, and shape poems.
Their creativity kicked into high gear with this exercise, all very excited to use their talents and imagination. As they finished their poems, they called me over to read their poetry. What beautiful masterpieces they produced. I asked if they would like to read to the class, and after they shared, they went on to work on another!
Sophia penned an emotional free verse poem about nature, adding illustrations to her words.
Jace chose to write two shape poems that rhymed – one inside of a mushroom cloud, the other inside a campfire. Amazed at how small he could write, the poems fit perfectly inside the shapes.
Anna wrote a very sweet free verse poem about pearls. I watched as she touched the pearl thinking about how to pen her thoughts.
Mya wrote a funny poem about getting rope burn, in keeping with her carefree personality.
Andrew wrote ten Haiku poems, many about nature and the sea. He loved reading to the class (and me).
Lucia designed an apple shape poem about an apple. She insisted on using markers, and the poem turned out very colorful and detailed.
On the whiteboard, my husband, designed a shape poem using the word L O V E. (I think he wrote it for me.)
Collectively, the children (and hubby) all created a poem, which I scribbled furiously on the whiteboard (because their minds were in overdrive). Each child recited the first thing that came to mind. I was moved to hear a poem about nature.
Using their words, I edited by placing only line breaks.
The final masterpiece is below –
The wind is whistling
through the trees
and swirls through the grass
makes the waves ripple.
The smell of the ocean
has me in a daze.
The seagulls quietly murmur,
near the seashore.
dart in the water.
In the far distance,
the water shimmers.
A dolphin catches my eye
and it appears
Why is the tide never so high?
By Jace, Andrew, Lucia, Sophia, Mya, Anna and Russell
I’m proud of them thinking so quickly and working together as a team.
At times, some of the children lost focus, with half of the group erupting into a giggle fest. Once they understood their time limits, they pushed pencils to paper.
I can definitely say that some of them may even grow up to be future Walt Whitman’s, Mary Oliver’s, Barbara Kingsolver’s and Basho Matsuos.
Peace, Love, and Sand Dollars,
Sheree K. Nielsen is the award-winning author of four books –
Her newest poetry and photography collection, Mondays in October, is her love song for the beach, and her eternal companion water. She’s dedicated the book to the Siteman Cancer Center Nurses who helped her make chemotherapy more bearable.
Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets, based on her adventures (Chanticleer Semi-Finalist for Nonfiction Guides – Insight and Instruction)
Folly Beach Dances is her 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner, a healing coffee table book inspired by her lymphoma journey
and coauthor of, Midnight the One-Eyed Cat, 2019 Chanticleer Little Peeps First Place Winner for Early Readers, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Review Finalist