Friday, March 22, 2013

overheard in Sunday School

This year at my Unitarian Universalist congregation we're using a new (to us) approach to religious education known as the WRM or Workshop Rotation Model.  Rather than sending same-grade groups of kids to the same class with the same teachers each Sunday, the kids are divided into several multiage groups and each month a handful of different types of lessons are taught around a theme.  The groups rotate through each lesson over the course of the month, with new volunteers teaching each month. 

In February, when our theme was Truth, I offered a poetry workshop.  I worked with three groups of  3rd-5th graders, and our RE Director worked with our one group of K-2nd graders.  As I had hoped, UU kids were especially receptive to poetry and dove in, producing some really first-rate work in our one hour together.  (Someday I'll write a post about what I mean about UU's and poetry.)

I used a poem from my collection Squeeze about a special rock to introduce the idea of an "outside truth" (the sensory, scientific facts about a thing) and an "inside truth"--the personal experiences and imaginations about a thing that are equally meaningful and true.  We provided some interesting nature objects as inspiration, and challenged the children to be aware, as they wrote, about whether they were expressing the outside truth or the inside truth about their subject.  Even the adult guides for each group wrote, and one of them, Danie Smallwood, a photographer, took really striking photos of the objects for an illustrated anthology of the poems, which we'll copy for the congregation to enjoy.

Here are the first two poems in the series, each of them first and only drafts.  Enjoy!


With five points sticking out
Pops of white bursting out
Light brown spots
Hard to see
Like the bottom with a honey-colored line that seems to be
Pouring out
Woven under
With small holes
That to me look as if they are going to break open
Unlike the ocean
Harsh, never stopping, never having an opening
~Katie, 5th grade

 Light Wing

Light wing, bumpy wing,
Light wing, colorful, and bumpy.
Yellow dots, black dots,
Light wing in my hands.  
~ Zachary, 2nd grade
The roundup for this week's Poetry Friday is over at GottaBook with Greg. Go gear up for National Poetry Month!


  1. Hi, Heidi! I bet the children loved working in mixed-age groups. What a great way to spend an hour in Sunday school--lucky kids! The starfish poem spoke to me:

    "as if they are going to break open/
    Unlike the ocean/
    Harsh, never stopping, never having an opening"

  2. Sounds like a wonderful workshop for kids and adults both!

  3. How i would have loved to write poetry in Sunday School!


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