|Environmental Education in the Schools (Peace Corps, 1993)|
|Activities, activities and more activities|
Trees are terrific subjects for poems. And picture poetry is especially fun for kids because the poem's words form a picture of what the poem is about.
Before you get started, copy the picture poem on page 191 onto a chalkboard or large piece of easel paper. Then ask the kids if they can think of words that describe trees. (List the words they come up with in a place where everyone can see them.) The list might include the words towering, huge, musty, mossy, slippery, gnarled, twisted, knobby, rough, bumpy, smooth, witchlike, dead, skinny, and so on. (You might want to take the kids outside and let them look at several trees and feel their bark.)
Now tell the kids that when we hear or read descriptive words that make pictures in our minds, we say that the words are a form of imagery. For example, have the kids imagine "an old tree by the side of a road." Ask them what they imagined. Then have the kids try to picture "a gnarled tree whose long branches bend over a road like huge arms." Ask them how the second tree they imagined was different from the first. Explain that the second sentence created a more precise image because it described the tree in more detail and used more descriptive words.
Next explain that words can also be written so that they form a picture right on the page itself. Then point to the picture poem you copied. Ask the kids if the poem would be as much fun to read if it were just written across the page instead of in the form of a picture. Talk about how some of the words (for example, flutter, float and drift) are written in a way that describes their meaning.
Now have the group make up their own tree picture poems. Be sure to explain that the words in their poems can rhyme if they want them to but that they don't have to rhyme. Also, the lines don't have to be a certain length, and punctuation isn't necessary. The kids just have to form a picture with the words that they write.