Friday, July 8, 2016

watermelon teatime

Despite my firm and abiding belief in public education (maybe not the system we've got, but in the ideal of it), I think often about other models:  unschooling and homeschooling and cooperative schooling.  Lately the crew at Brave Writer has had me wishing that I'd set out on the homeschool journey (even though everyone knows that we moved to France for a year just so that I could avoid teaching my son in nursery school).  They offer homeschoolers many resources for teaching writing, including online courses, but their greatest invention is (are you listening, Jama?) ........

The basic idea is that a family sets aside regular time for 
Poetry + Tea + Treats = Enchanted Learning and Magical Family Time!

Brave Writer supports this ritual with a website dedicated to it alone.  Posts come from the Brave Writer staff, who recommend books, recipes and related projects, and from homeschoolers who keep Poetry Teatime weekly with their families.  You will also find interviews with poets, and I was recently invited to respond to a set of questions about writing and poetry--you can read the full interview here. I'm in extremely good company; Poetry Teatime has featured Marilyn Singer, Amy Ludwig Vanderwater and Joyce Sidman too, and their interviews are fascinating.

Here's one snippet that goes to the key elements: the pairing of poetry and food!

We love to pair tea and food with poetry. Many of your poems mention food—for example, your book Pumpkin Butterfly features wild strawberries, lemons, and cherries. How can poetry and food complement each other? Do you have any favorite food/poem pairings, either of your own or of others’ work?

A tea party is a special way of enjoying food and drink that gives extra weight and importance to the flavors and the company. Poetry is a special way of enjoying words and ideas that gives extra weight and importance to the meaning and the metaphor. They go together beautifully! 

My family just celebrated the Summer Solstice with a big evening picnic in a park where we always serve watermelon—one of the very best flavors of summer. Here is a watermelon poem that goes with my poem from Pumpkin Butterfly called “Winged Solstice.”

Ode to a Watermelon
by Pablo Neruda

Round, supreme, celestial watermelon
The fruit of the tree of thirst
Green whale of summer.

Oda a la Sandia
por Pablo Neruda

La redonda, suprema y celestial sandia
es la fruta del arbol de la sed.
Es la ballena verde del verano.

I also include an easy watermelon recipe to try that's a far cry from scones or cinnamon toast, but is a perfect summer teatime finger food!

And of course, with Poetry Teatime coming in one ear and this "Poetry Peek" post from Amy's Poem Farm about poetry and popcorn coming in the other, my teacher brain is ruminating on how to bring a similar ritual into my classroom next year.  I already do our daily chapter book reading during snack time, and not only because our crammed schedule requires multitasking.  While it's true that the children are not all ranged, rapt, at my feet as I read about (for example) Gawain's escape from the courtroom to freedom and isolation across the lake in The Real Thief, my standing position as they eat at their desks allows for a dramatic and energetic rendering of the action and, I hope, creates an association for the kids between food for the body and food for the spirit.  I believe in that yet more firmly and abidingly than the belief I began the post with!

Today's host for Poetry Friday is Katie at The Logonauts--pour yourself a cup of tea (iced if it's 93* as predicted here) and enjoy the ritual!


  1. Terrific,Heidi. This has some fabulous potential all the way round! The watermelon pops look interesting for sure. Something to share with families, too.....Janet F.

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  3. I will check out Brave Writer. "Green whale of summer" is an awesome description of a watermelon! We had our first "Jane Austen Tea Circle" tea last weekend. I have lots of recipes if you need any.

  4. What a delicious post. I've been having the Summer of Quinoa salads. Yum!

  5. Aaah.... the poetry love. *sighs wistfully* Too often it feels like the JOY of poetry is being squeezed out of our curriculum - and I think that's what I love most about #PoetryFriday - reading how everyone is squeezing it back in. Inspiring!

  6. Wow! What a great idea. I too am an educator....and I love the concept of public education. But, I have some criticism as of late!
    My Library partner introduced T.E.A. Time in our library one year. The letters stand for Tutorial and Enrichment Activity in which we make tea (real tea with hot water) served in china cups with cookies to talk about their successes. Students were nominated by their classroom teachers for the opportunity to visit the library during T.E.A. Time. We've backed off on it....but what a great way to introduce a poem on say a placemat that everyone could read...or follow along to as it's read aloud. I think you must consider this idea borrowed!

  7. I really wish I liked watermelon! I feel as though I'm missing out!

    1. Oh, Ruth, I'm not sure we can be friends anymore...
      JK. But I don't think I ever met anyone who doesn't like watermelon.
      Are you a mango woman? : )

    2. YES, I'm a mango woman! Is a person one or the other?

    3. Thanks very much for what you said about my poem. :-)

  8. Lovely to read every part, Heidi. This part about you in the classroom with your students' snack time & your reading to them sounds very special: "food for the body and food for the spirit". Thanks for your thoughts and the links!

  9. I love the idea of Poetry tea time! My students already clamor for Poetry Friday; I can't imagine how loud the cries would get if TREATS were involved! Yikes. :) Thanks for sharing this with the Poetry Friday community.

  10. Well done with Winged Solstice! It evokes many summer memories. Poetry Tea is such a lovely idea and Brave Writer does it well. Thank you for sharing all the info and links.

  11. The "green whale of summer," indeed! Now you've got me craving watermelon, and all we have in the house are cherries. Guess I'll have to settle for marbles of summer? :-)

  12. I love the sound of a Poetry Teatime and hope you find a way to integrate something similar into your classroom - oh the pressures of time! Your poetry pairing is a perfect as a fresh, ripe watermelon on a summer's afternoon.

  13. Watermelon + tea + poetry = the trifecta of goodness. Great post, Heidi. =)

  14. Enjoyed the interview, your great advice, and all of the watermelon goodness, Heidi. I sampled watermelon and feta for the first time a few weeks ago. Delicious!


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!