Create Poetree: 2 Nature-Based Activities for National Poetry Month

Create a Poetree: 2 Nature-Based Activities for National Poetry Month via Green Acorns

It’s National Poetry Month!  You know how I love to incorporate nature into our learning so today I have a couple of nature-based poetry activities for you and your children.

Why should our children learn about and read and write poetry?  Poetry is a wonderful form of creative self-expression.  It can be a way to connect with the world and with others and a way to process emotions.  It encourages the writer to carefully consider the use of words and the reader to consider their interpretations.  Poetry can be used to foster the skills of observation and to heighten the use of imagery.  And often, poetry has rhythm that kids can relate to.

Now on to the activities…

Grow a Poetree: Nature-Based Poetry Activities for National Poetry Month

Grow a Poetree

This activity is an open, relaxed way to create poetry.  Similar to using magnetic poetry.  Print the provided activity pages and cut out the leaves.  For young children, you may want to fill them in with words yourself and leave them out as a provocation.  My eight year old used a combination of words I filled in and words of her choosing.  I have also provided a list of words for inspiration for your child.

There is no need to have a poem already worked out when choosing the words.  That’s the fun of it!  Think about nature-related words, move the word leaves around until you like the order, and place them around your tree.  Inspired by our walk around the neighborhood earlier in the day, here is what my daughter created:

Flowers grow
Buds turn into leaves
Birds sing, Sun shining
Melting snow drips

Think about other ways you might adapt this activity for your child.  Perhaps she would like to string the word leaves onto a garland and hang it up.  It could be used to decorate some branches in a vase or even temporarily on a tree outside.  Have fun with it!

Create a Poetree: 2 Nature-Based Activities for National Poetry Month via Green Acorns

Shape a Cinquain Poetree

Cinquain is form of poetry that is composed of five lines.  The most common version we see in more modern poetry was developed by Adelaide Crapsey.  In this form each of the five lines has a set number of syllables: 2,4,6,8,2 respectfully.  There is also a framework for the number of words on each line: 1,2,3,4,1.  These patterns lend themselves well to create shape poetry.  We thought it fit perfectly with our “poetree” theme but feel free to use any shape you’d like.  Maybe a flower or a fish or anything that you’ve been noticing in nature lately.

Think about what you have been noticing in nature lately, something you enjoy doing outside, or your favorite plant, animal or outdoor location.  Or maybe there is something you saw in a book or something from your nature collection that has sparked your imagination.  Use that to inspire a topic for your poem.  Simply follow the format provided on the printable to create your own cinquain.

Here is my son’s:

Moon
Bright, Round
Shining, Waxing, Waning
Sun of night
Satellite

I hope you enjoy these poetry activities.  If you are looking for more poetry inspiration, I share some of our favorite nature-related books in this post.

Poetree Printables

Fondly,
Monique

NaturePlay Film: Bringing Back Childhood

NaturePlay: A film review @Green Acorns

I recently had the privilege of viewing the film NaturePlay – Take Childhood Back which was created by Daniel and Aimie Stilling with the goal of inspiring a cultural and educational shift in the U.S. and around the world in regards to the values placed on childhood and the importance of whole-child education.

The film begins with captivating images of children playing outside – free and happy, exploring and connecting with nature – underscored by Richard Louv reading a passage from his book, Last Child in the Woods.  We are then presented with the serious issue that this film addresses: The increase in high-stakes testing in our schools and the loss of unstructured play time outside (in and out of school) are negatively impacting our children.  Childhood is being taken away, our children are suffering, and the consequences are long-lasting.

The film then offers a source of hope and remedy as it leads us on a journey to Denmark where we learn about the Udeskole model of education and the cultural attitude of Friluftsliv and then to Norway where they share these same values.

Udeskole is defined as a method that “…gives the pupils the opportunity to use their bodies and senses in learning activities in the real world in order to obtain personal and concrete experiences.  Uteskole allows room for academic activities, communication, social interaction, experience, spontaneity, play, curiosity and fantasy”.  (sourceIn other words, Udeskole takes learning out to nature and relevant community settings for meaningful, hands-on experiences that can be applied to the classroom lessons across all academic subjects.

NaturePlay Film

The Udeskole pedagogy is implemented in all grades from kindergarten through high school and the impacts are inspiring.  Learning experiences are not standardized as they tend to be here in the U.S.  This pedagogy makes it possible for children to take away their own lessons, develop their own unique skills, broaden their own perspective of the world.  The experiences go from hand to mind to heart, empowering all children to unlock their full potential.

This model of education and the governmental policies that support it would not be successful if it weren’t for the cultural value of Friluftsliv – “free air life”.  In Nordic and Scandinavian cultures, direct experience in nature is a part of everyday life.  Children spend extended periods of time immersed in nature.  They experience life outside in all kinds of weather.  They are allowed to take risks – climbing trees and boulders, learning how to use knives and make fires, using construction materials and tools to build forts and rafts. It is understood and accepted that children need time away from adult monitoring and influence.  Even the public parks and adventure playgrounds are designed to support and encourage these philosophies.

It is believed that children have an innate sense of belonging in nature and that it is crucial to maintain that connection for a high quality of life.  It is believed that children and nature and education belong together and that working to make it so is an investment in the health of society.

NaturePlay film

After highlighting many positive and encouraging examples of “Udeskole” successes, the film brings us back around to the struggles we face and the price our children are paying.  We are raising a generation of disconnected humans – disconnected from each other, disconnected from nature, disconnected from life.  We have created false constructs of achievement and what is important in life.  We have lost touch with the fact that life-long personal success, health, and overall well-being are rooted in childhood.  This film challenges us to take an honest look at our current mindsets and to take up the challenge of doing better for our children.  After all,  “What parent wants their kids to be less alive?  What teacher wants their students to be less alive?  Who among us as adults wants to be less alive?”  The solution lies in a more nature-rich existence.

Gain more insight to the film with these wonderful reviews and by watching the official trailer:

So, who should see this film?

  • Parents who want to enrich their children’s lives;
  • Educators who want to unlock their students full potential;
  • Community leaders who want to promote a creative, independent, empowered generation;
  • Organizations who want to spark a love of outdoors in children and nurture future stewards of the environment;
  • Anyone who wants to improve the lives of our children and the future of us all.

Who could you approach about hosting a viewing?

  • School board of directors, administrators, teachers, and parent groups;
  • Local nature clubs and environmental centers;
  • Universities;
  • Public libraries;
  • Parents and family members.

Make a passionate plea to get this film shown in your community.  Whether you write a letter or arrange a personal meeting, make an undeniable case by sharing research findings, giving anecdotal examples of experiential learning and the impacts of unstructured time in nature, and asking your audience to recall their own experiences.

All the information for hosting a screening can be found here.  Together we can help take back childhood.

Fondly,
Monique

P.S. I asked Aimie a few follow-up questions after viewing the full film.  I’ll share our conversation and some related resources in an upcoming post.