Books for Back-to-School: School Poems

I’ve been having fun writing about books for the first few weeks of school, and today I have another collection of poems to share: Messing Around on the Monkey Bars and Other School Poems for Two Voices by Betsy Franco, illustrated by Jessie Hartland. I love well-written poems for two voices because they are so fun to read aloud with a group. These poems fit the bill! Several of them could inspire great conversations about school routines and expectations. They’d also be fun to read together as a Morning Meeting activity. (The author shares ideas about how to read the poems with larger groups in the back of the book.)

One of my favorites is “Jenny’s Pencil.” The poem is written in two columns. The left column consists of a series of “tap, taps” representing the sound of Jenny’s pencil-tapping. The right column describes what happens in Jenny’s classroom as her unconscious drumming leads the whole class off-track.

This poem could be used to launch a discussion of classroom rules. You could begin by talking about how behaviors that may not be problematic when we’re on our own or at home might cause trouble in a classroom where many people have to work together in a confined space. Or, once your rules are established, you could use the poem to discuss the need for logical consequences. (When a teacher notices a behavior that might lead students off track, it’s her job to step in and help the student stop and get back to learning.)

Another poem in this book, “New Kid at School,” seamlessly reflects a quick but important conversation between an “old kid” and the new kid in the class. In a few lines, the poem gives a message about the power of conversation, reaching out to others, and the joy of feeling noticed. You could use it to help students brainstorm ways to make sure everyone feels included at lunch or recess. Or it could spark a brainstorming session about discussions topics for lunchtime.

“Weird Stuff in the Lost and Found” catalogs the odd and random things often found in the lost and found boxes of schools all over the world. You might use it to begin discussions with your class about the importance of taking care of classroom and personal materials.

I hope you check out the book and enjoy the poems!

Margaret Berry Wilson is the author of several books, including: The Language of Learning, Doing Science in Morning Meeting (co-authored with Lara Webb), Interactive Modeling, and Teasing, Tattling, Defiance & More.

Tags: Language Arts