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Any classroom teacher will tell you that the last weeks of school are the most difficult when it comes to keeping students engaged in learning. Assignments that challenge, create an atmosphere of fun and are easily accomplished are the best. Creating a language arts unit with an end of the year poem for students to write based on a single word or pictures of summer activities is a good choice.
The tools needed for this assignment are:
- paper - pre-printed sheets work well or for older students blank paper in summer colors
- photos or prints of summer - beachscapes, baseball games, picnics
- pencils, crayons, markers
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To begin a summer acrostic, brainstorm with students words associated with summer. This is a good Mind Mapping activity. Start with "summer" and branch off from there. Ask questions like, "What do you like to do in the summer?" or "Where do you go in the summer?" With older students, you might even ask them to research summer activities from the past, such as open fire hydrants in the city or Fourth of July festivals.
For older students: once you have you have a sufficient list of words, ask the students to choose one for their acrostic, have them write it lengthwise down the paper. Then, on a separate sheet, have them make a list of all the words they can think of that describe that word. For instance, the word "beach" can be described by the words: hot, salty, sandy, wet, dry, stormy, etc. Finally, have them write a line or word for every letter in their acrostic. Click here for an example.
For younger students: provide the class with a sheet on which a summer word has already been written lengthwise down the page with lines for creating the poem. Click here for an example.
Once students have completed their poems, they can then draw a picture to go along with what they wrote.
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Another great poetry activity for the end of the school year is creating haiku based on pictures of summer activities. Tape up several prints, photos, or posters of summer activities. Have the students look carefully at all the details.
Next, explain haiku to the students.
- Haiku is an ancient form of poetry from Japan.
- It usually describes things in nature.
- Traditionally it is written with a 5,7,5 rhythm ( the first line of the poem has 5 syllables or beats, the second line has 7 syllables or beats and the last line has five syllables or beats.
- Non-traditional haiku is simply creating a word picture with as few words as possible, yet still giving the reader a clear vision of what the poet is describing.
- Personification, metaphor and simile are all literary elements used in haiku.
Here are two examples*.
Traditional Haiku - Gentle breezes blow/Flowers dance in fields of grass/Nature's summer fest.
Non-traditional Haiku - Flowers dancing/Breezes blowing/Nature's holiday
While this may seem daunting to non-poet educators, it is really a great activity that the students truly enjoy, especially if the teacher is enthusiastic about it. Note: Don't get hung up on the 5,7,5 rule. What you want to encourage is that the student really think of how to use language to paint a word picture with as few words as possible. Structuring the poem is not as important as being creative with language. (I have taught this to second graders. They loved it, creating some amazing poems along with pictures.)
*Poems by Linda Neas
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End of Year
An end of the year poem for students to write when focused on summer activities brings challenges as well as fun into the final days of school.