This week I taught my kindergarten, first, and second graders about our U.S. Children's Poet Laureate: J. Patrick Lewis. First, we talked about what laureate means. Most of our students had never heard of this title before.
laureate: n. a person who is honored with an award for outstanding creative or intellectual achievement.
Wow! I told my kids that must mean that he's super creative and really smart, too! We talked about a U.S. Poet Laureate's job. J. Patrick Lewis is responsible for getting kids around the United States really excited about reading and writing poetry. He gets to visit schools all over the United States! What a great job. The kids also guessed that he has to write lots of poetry, too. J. Patrick Lewis has definitely been busy writing and publishing poetry.
We talked about J. Patrick Lewis' picture. I wonder why he'd choose to put this picture on his website? The kids said:
He likes gum.
He likes blue jeans (his shirt).
He is old.
He looks like he is a fun guy.
He must like to write funny poetry.
We listened to J. Patrick Lewis share a funny poem called Mosquito.
I like the way Lewis also shares with the kids why he wrote this poem. His son was climbing up the slide one day on the playground and his pants fell down and a bee stung him on the bottom. He said his son was very hurt and he didn't want someone to be hurt in the poem, so he changed the bee sting to a mosquito bite.
After watching the video, I showed the kids the poem and we compared it to a fiction book. The kids noticed:
You can read the poem on one page.
The poem has lines.
The poem has paragraphs. We talked about how in poetry these are called stanzas.
You can choose to read anywhere in a poetry book. You don't have to read beginning to end.
Next, we shared an anthology of poems edited by J. Patrick Lewis and published by National Geographic.
I told the kids that I picked this book up at Barnes and Noble and purchased it before I even knew I was going to teach about J. Patrick Lewis! My favorite part about this book is that the real pictures really pair well with the over two-hundred poems that are written by a variety of poets. We watched and listened as J. Patrick Lewis read one of his poems from the book:
Finally, I shared that J. Patrick Lewis is really good at writing riddles. The next book we put on the Elmo so the kids could see the words in the riddles and use the picture clues as well to try to solve each one. We checked our answers in the back of the book after we read several examples.
Each of the riddles in Spot the Plot is about a storybook and I like the way the riddles are about classic picture books as well as some that are more recent. We also talked about why the boy and girl are dressed as detectives. A fun extension for this lesson would be to have your kids write riddles about other picture books that they love. Fifth and sixth graders could even write the riddles for your younger students and it would get them back into your easy fiction books in a sneaky way!
For more information about J. Patrick Lewis and his many other poetry books, check out his website. You can also visit the J. Patrick Lewis blogspot for guides and trailers for his poetry books.
If you've used the poetry of J. Patrick Lewis in a fun way in your classroom, please post a comment and share your ideas!