Friday, January 7, 2011

winter eyes

Every day on the morning announcements at my school, there's a "Did you know...?" Yesterday's was, "Did you know it might SNOW tomorrow?"

Personally I could live without most of winter, but around these parts real snow comes seldom enough that it brings real magic when it does. On the other hand (and I'm convinced this is due directly to climate change), the 5- to 7-year-olds that I teach have grown up in a mid-Atlantic region with considerably more snowfall than I ever enjoyed as a kid, where we tended to get one snowfall of 10-12" a year sometime in January--never in time for Christmas!

So the kindergartners do know what it's like to cross a landscape something like that in Jan Brett's The Mitten, and the first-graders know something about venturing out into hills and expanses of snow like Peter in The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. Today is Poetry Friday in my classes and Douglas Florian has something for both groups! His 1999 Winter Eyes (Greenwillow) is so full of goodies--and really no two the same, kinda like snowflakes--that it's hard to choose.

To the kindergarteners, who are as a whole a snappy group, I could offer "Winter Tracks," about the same meadow mouse that figures in The Mitten, or "Winter Burrows," which would echo yesterday's discussion about how Jan Brett eschews the boring popcorn words "go" and "went" to make the animals "burrow," "wriggle" and "nose" their way into the mitten. But because of Nicki's white mittens on white snow, I'm going to give them "Winter Wear."

Winter Wear
Douglas Florian

The weasel wears a coat of white.
He always keeps it zippered tight.
It helps him weasel out of sight.

The snowshoe hare from head to toe
Wears white wherever she may go
To help her hide against the snow.

The snowy owl perched in a tree
On snowy days is hard to see.
I don't see him but he sees me.

In our white coats we come to peek.
On winter wildlife we sneak.
We play a game of hide and seek.

How simple, how pleasing! To the first-graders, who as a group benefit from taking things more slowly, I'll offer "Sled," a concrete poem that climbs the left side of a two-page spread just like Peter climbs "up a great big tall heaping mountain of snow," and then speeds down the right side just like Peter sli-i-i-des all the way down.
Here's the text:

Douglas Florian

then (here's where the poem meets the gutter of the book)
s p e e d
s a i l
w h i z
w a i l

I don't usually show children the book or illustration with the poem I'm sharing at the first reading, but this is one where I'll be holding up both Winter Eyes and The Snowy Day so that the children can make the visual connection. I love Poetry Friday!

Join in today at Live. Love. Explore! with Irene.


  1. Both of those are perfect, Heidi. Today is my oldest's birthday, and she was gratified to see a sprinkling of snow on the ground for it. (She might have preferred 3-6 inches of snow, but she'll take what she can get...)

  2. The sled! My elementary school had a huge hill. This poem brings back memories of waiting for Dad to get home on a snowy night and triple-decker sledding on the Flexible Flyer. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I love Poetry Friday too! And these wonderful winter poems. I esp. like the use of weasel as a noun... and also as a verb. What fun word play!

  4. I could be biased, but I think Heidi still looks as young as she feels. - Papa Mordhorst

  5. Heidi,

    I love Poetry Friday too! How lucky your petite poets are that you celebrate with them too. Love the poems that you have chosen. Thank goodness for the wonderful words in literature, poetry, and blogs that warm our weary winter bones. I am sitting here with my laptop and a beverage trying to warm up. ~Theresa

  6. Love these, Heidi. I had not seen this particular book before. What a treat!

  7. Thanks for the peek into your classroom and your choices for Poetry Friday!

  8. Heidi,
    Thanks for checking in on my earlier. Life was crazy last semester. I was amazed I pulled anything together for NCTE!

    I love all four of these seasonal books by Mr. Florian, but I think winter is my favorite.

    Thanks for sharing these. They were particularly appropriate given that I woke up to a few inches of snow this morning.

  9. As a writer, I nominate as Best Snow Poem: the Frost poem that starts "The way a crow...."


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