Friday, October 28, 2011


While we only just carved our home pumpkins yesterday (a truly awesome pair that resulted from a rash promise: "If you can carry it as far as the wagon you can have it") and roasted the seeds, some of our classroom pumpkins are moldering interestingly.  I went looking for a pumpkin seed poem and found this, from an Irish poet I didn't know.


All Souls’ over, the roast seeds eaten, I set
on a backporch post our sculpted pumpkin
under the weather, warm still for November.
Night and day it gapes in at us
through the kitchen window, going soft
in the head. Sleepwalker-slow, a black rash of ants
harrows this hollow globe, munching
the pale peach flesh, sucking its seasoned
last juices dry. In a week, when the ants and
humming flies are done, only a hard remorseless light
drills and tenants it through and through. Within,
it turns mould-black in patches, stays
days like this while the weather takes it
in its shifty arms: wide eye-spaces shine,
the disapproving mouth holds firm....

~ Eamon Grennan

Read the rest here, and snack on the roasty toasty Poetry Friday noodles of autumn with Diane at Random Noodling.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

OIK: and where is the yellow cube?

We're doing just a little more assessment in Kindergarten, trying to make sure that the few minutes of actual teaching I've had time to do between all the assessments has been worth it.  The children are supposed to answer some questions about the position and location of things like counting bears and unifix cubes.  This is fairly straightforward if you're a fluent English speaker ("at the top," "on the bottom") and even more straightforward if you're at a certain developmental age and stage ("right here," accompanied by a look that says, "What's wrong with your eyes, teacher?")

Then there are the kids who are positioned-and-located somewhere in between, like Bryon.  He recently arrived from an English-speaking African country and is "in progress" on this measure of mathematical concept acquisition.

Me, with an encouraging smile and a flourish as I place a yellow Unifix cube beneath but not touching my chin:
And where is the yellow cube, Bryon?

Umm....That might be a trick question. [with sudden insight]  I know!  Before your neck!

Maybe Bryon's trick answer makes you think of a poem located somewhere like mine below.  Leave it in the comments and I'll round up on Friday.


Before my neck

there was just a little necklet
which I wore laced with pearls
of baby powder, jewels
of new baby blink, charmed
with welcome kisses

Heidi Mordhorst 2011
all rights reserved

Thursday, October 20, 2011

twenty-four doors

Maybe it's a teacher thing, or maybe it's just me:  I am inordinately excited by the arrival of a new rug for my classroom.  (We've made do with unsatisfactory ruglike arrangements for two months.)  Our meeting area--where so much talking and listening, teaching and learning go on--is defined by The Carpet, so how the carpet looks and feels is important.

Isn't my new rug beautiful?  It's so beautiful I had to write a poem about it.

Twenty-Four Doors

The new rug in my room
is one inch deep,
a layer of soil
made of snowflake and moon.
I lie down by a river
of lightning and leaves.
My arms span a sky
like a mine full of gold;
turtles in treetops nibble my toes.
A cloudburst of apples
showers my head.
I tickle sharks
at the rainbow’s end,
feed the bluebird of gravity
acorns and sun.
They can keep me inside,
but the rug on my floor has
twenty-four doors that lead
into the wild.

Heidi Mordhorst 2011
all rights reserved

Head to Jama's Alphabet Soup for the usual smorgasbord of poetry dishes, autumn edition, and don't forget to stop by again on Tuesday evening if you'd like a poetry challenge!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

OIK Tickle: the jurassic age is 5

Just when I'm wondering what I'll post, something pops up, like they know I'm listening!  It's spooky. 

Yesterday after reading a book about what didn't frighten a certain boy at bedtime, we were talking about why it was the little brown owl at the end that DID frighten him.  I wondered whether it was because the owl was the only real creature out in his tree, "because I know that there's no such thing as a golden gorilla or a unicorn or a green goblin, and I know there are no pink dinosaurs, at least not in our time--"

"Yeah, dinosaurs were on the earth long ago, back in the--in the--1950's."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

OIK Tickle: snack foods of the world

Lunch time is so early for us that snack time is a necessity, around about 1:15 every day.  We were finishing off a very large box of graham crackers brought in by Talia, who is Chinese-American.

"These are the ones I brought in, right?"

"They're good!...I really like Chinese food."

Friday, October 7, 2011

picking the apple of analysis

It's all about apples in Room 144 right now, with a little leaf work on the side and pumpkins on their way.  This is despite the fact that our new Curriculum 2.0 (which fancies itself rotten, as they say in England) is integrated not around something concrete and interesting for young children such as apples, but around "Thinking and Academic Success Skills." 

There is certainly no doubt that kindergarteners can begin to understand Big Ideas such as analysis and collaboration, but I'm not sure it's very productive, in the third week of school, to ask 5-year-olds a Unifying Question such as "How do identifying and describing attributes help you understand your world and organize your ideas?"  More mystifying to me is that we the teachers seem to be DIScouraged from developing these eleven Thinking and Academic Skills through projects or topics that are thematically integrated and relevant to children's experience of what's happening outside school--you know, such as apples.  Why not do both?

But it's Poetry Friday and I must step down off my apple crate to allow Robert Frost to speak, literally.  The poem below (which is nearly suitable for kindergarten, but not quite) can be heard in Frost's own growly tones at The Poetry Foundation website.  Robert Frost knew how to keep it concrete for sure.

After Apple-Picking

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

~ Robert Frost

More "keeping it real through poetry" at Great Kid Books with Mary Ann today, where she highlights April's Poetry Tag collection and sets the stage for the new and thrilling p*tag collection for teen readers, now available here!  Download the divine!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

OIK: what time is it again?

Ms. Mordhorst:
"This morning we're going to do something new called Weekend Snapshot.  A snapshot is an old-fashioned name for a camera picture.  Put your camera up, close your eyes and look at your weekend.  What did you play this weekend?  What did you eat this weekend?  Where did you go?  When you find one important picture, press the button and take a snapshot.  Now draw and write it on this paper."

[some minutes later, empty paper]
"Soren, what important little thing are you going to draw?"

"I don't know."
[looooong pause]

"I don't know when was the weekend."

Perhaps you, too, occasionally lose track of whole chunks of time.....Leave your poetic response in the comments.

Lost Time

I found a piece of lost time
in the grass today,
gleaming silver like a coin.
It's in my pocket, round
as an old turnip-shaped watch.
Who knows when I'll need it?
I could use it when I'm late
for school, use it when I'm not
quite finished with my homework
or the last six pages of a book
and my mom stands there saying
"Time for bed." The thing ticks
softly, like a friend talking
just a bit too quietly to hear.
Maybe I will keep it instead.

—Kate Coombs, 2011, all rights reserved


I am not a watch.
I hate sucky ticks
And pushy tocks!
And second hands that push me with a bang!
Hurry furry thing!
To the finish line.
I'd rather stop
Than hop
To someone else's beat.
Lose the time.
Cruise the line that's fine.

-Jeanne Poland
2011, all rights reserved


Kate, I like the sound of "a piece of lost time" ticking softly in your pocket. Coins don't usually make that kind of noise!

Jeanne, your vision of a watch as a "Hurry furry thing!" is also striking.

Thank you both for stopping by. Here's mine...

The Past

Remember that time
just now
when you sneezed and it sounded like
an elephant?

Yeah, that was so funny!
 Remember that time
five minutes ago
when we built that pyramid
and then a tornado knocked it down?

I remember that, I think.
Remember that time
this morning
when I forgot my lunch on the bus
and I had to order grilled cheese?

You did?
Remember that time
at the weekend
when you did something really special
at that place with those people?

I don’t know when was the weekend.
Do you?

~ Heidi Mordhorst 2011
DRAFT all rights reserved