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Elementary School

The Reading Series in the Classroom: Eloise Klein Healy

This week, in continuation with our series, “The Reading Series in the Classroom,” we here at Wordplay will introduce your students to the writing of Eloise Klein Healy. She will read at the Poetry Center, along with Peggy Shumaker, this Thursday, March 21st at 7 p.m. Klein Healy’s reading will be best suited for high school students, but her poetry also appeals to a K-8 audience. Please print and read Klein Healy’s poem, “Wild Mothers,” with your students, and then follow the writing prompts below. Hope to see you all at the Reading!

1. The speaker begins the poem with this line: “wild kitty sneaks up my stairs with two wisps of tiger behind her.” From the get-go, what can you infer about this animal, based off the description?

2. The speaker lists a number of wild animals that live around or near her home. List at least five of these animals. Do you think these images depict wildness? Explain.

3. The speaker says, “wild mothers always find me” and “three bowls of dry food every day and their tribes in proscribed circles waiting for me.” What can you infer about the speaker, based off of these details?

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The City of Shellopolis

With Family Days right around the corner this Saturday, March 16th from 10-1 p.m., what better way to pre-party than with some Family Days writing? Check out these stories about imagined cities by Family Days students!

The City of Shellopolis

There was a city named Shellopolis. There were two different kinds of creatures: the bloobees and the airbees.

The bloobees looked like smashed potatoes. The bloobees are blue, and they smell like trash. Yuck! They lived underwater and spoke two languages. The languages were google and bla-bla.

Airbees flew across the sky using their eyes. The eyes were long and pointy. They rapidly spun like a pinwheel. The airbees are red. They looked like a roll of toilet paper.


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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Matthew Conley Recommends

I’m a big believer in presenting advanced but appropriate work to young people; I find that they respond positively to being treated as equals in potential (if not experience). That being said, only the first three selections and the last one are age specific, while the rest of the books can be used with students at any level. You’ll find some “traditional” or “expected” authors and books alongside writers who will challenge and inspire young readers to work with new ideas.

1. I Looooooove You, Whale! by Derrick Brown (Preschool through 4th grade)

DB is a master of everything he tries, from slam-poetry tours to filmmaking to publishing. Here he applies a poet’s imagination to a charming story about non-traditional friendship (and do check out DB’s other work through his “Write Fuzzy” project).

2. Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose by Dr. Seuss (Preschool through 4th grade)

This is one of the lesser-known Dr. Seuss offerings, but its crisp verse and engaging narrative make it a huge hit with young people. While the climax is one of the more violent (though gently treated) of his works, it provides a wonderful lesson on the very real consequences of not being honest with yourself and others.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Review: The Phantom Tollbooth

Family Days is this Saturday, February 16th from 10 a.m.-1p.m at the Poetry Center. And this Saturday's Family Day's book club feature is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Students do not need to read the book prior to the book club to participate, but if you'd like a preview, check out Wordplay blog volunteer Jeannie Wood's book review of the classic children's tale. Enjoy!

While The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is full of basic ideas of appreciating one’s surroundings and people, the book is written in such a fun and pun-ful way that it can make anyone re-think the words used in daily speech.

When Milo comes home from another boring day at boring school, he finds a box in the middle of his room: “FOR MILO, WHO HAS PLENTY OF TIME,” it reads. Milo is a very bored boy who doesn’t take interest or meaning in much of anything. This strange box begins Milo’s adventure. Literally, by way of the tollbooth, he drives right on through in his toy car, after paying his fee (of course). Milo enters a new world where people grow down, and not up; people buy letters for words at the market instead of food or trinkets; they mine for numbers which are more valuable than rubies.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Rhyme rode the bike

Poetry can be found in the most mundane, every day objects: a water bottle, a post-it note, an envelope. If we look deep enough, peaking into nooks and crannies, we can find beauty in everything. The following poems are a testament to this point. Check out these poems from youth at Family Days, and then try writing one yourself at our next Family Days this Saturday, February 16th from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. In addition to fun writing activities, we'll have a art activities, yoga, dance, typewriters, storytelling, games, and a Book Club featuring The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. See you there!

The Bike

The bike traveled to Texas
and then it saw the sea
and it reminded it of San Diego
The Rope tied around the bike
and at the top, there was a machine
that pulled up anything.
There was a person named Rhyme
who rode on the bike.
Rhyme rode the bike all the
way back to Tucson.


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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Simmons Buntin Recommends

Simmons BuntinYou might think that, as a father of two teenagers, I’d have a good handle on the books that have influenced these vibrant young women, and I could simply list those here. They are both voracious readers, after all, and my wife and I read aloud to them nightly for years. But making any kind of assumptions about teenagers can be tricky, alas, and so (with one or two exceptions) the books I list below are instead the ones that most influenced me as a young adult, predominantly in high school and college.

Early on, two books helped define what I call my environmental ethic: the sense of who I am in the context of landscape, and the passionate pursuit of preserving natural places (and, subsequently, building responsibly in places). The first was assigned the summer before I attended college by an honors biology professor, the second in my first college course on wildlife biology:

Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness, by Edward Abbey

No other single book of prose or poetry has activated my passion for saving wilderness, not to mention my devious inner nature, as desert curmudgeon Edward Abbey’s 1966 memoir about spending a year at Utah’s Arches National Monument. I return to this book regularly, much to my wife’s chagrin, as it makes me want to head off to the Canyonlands, call with the coyotes, share ghost stories with a night circle of lizards.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Miniatures at Family Days!

Last Saturday, the Poetry Center, the Tucson Museum of Art, and the Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures teamed up in a big way. We kicked off our first Family Days of the Spring 2013 season with a miniature themed extravaganza! Using paint, mini canvass boards, and Q-tips, Stefani Hewitt, Tucson Museum of Art intern, led the students in creating mini pointillist paintings:


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Friday, February 1, 2013

Family Days writing

Our next Family Days is just around the corner on Saturday, January 26th from 10:00-1:00 p.m. Family Days is a Saturday open-house for youth of all ages and their families featuring Poetry Joey’s workshops for infants through ten year olds. Once a month, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the stacks of the center will be open to youth writing, games, storytelling, creative movement activities, and other poem happenings designed to inspire youth and their families to explore the world around them with language. For more information on Family Days, please check out our website.

Below are some poems written by youth at last Fall's Family Days. Check out how the students write fresh poems, based off of the first lines from famous and familiar poems. Enjoy!

Once upon a midnight dreary

Once upon a midnight dreary
I was in the snow and you
were right beside me.
We were having a lot of fun.
It was a midnight dreary.


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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Review: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

At our next Family Days on Saturday, January 26th, our Book Club for 11 + feature will be The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. Book Club participants need not read the book in order to participate, but for those who are interested, the book is currently for sale at the Poetry Center, and will also be on sale the day of the event. Check out our website for more information.

The scenario is familiar and simple: a toy rabbit gets lost. It's a plot that reminds me of some of my favorite Pixar movies, like Toy Story and Finding Nemo. And of course it's reminsicent, too, of The Velveteen Rabbit. But what Kate DiCamillo writes in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane digs deeper, tugs harder, and gets darker. With amazing imagery, strong characterization, emotional honesty, and instructive morals, DiCamillo creates a world that's not so different from our own: beautiful and harsh, but ultimately one in which hope wins out in the end.

Edward Tulane isn't your typical toy rabbit. He's not some warm, velvety creature stuffed with love, but is instead "almost entirely made of china," except for his ears and tail, which are made of real rabbit fur. And he isn't personified as some lovable little guy, at least not at first. Instead he's kind of snotty: he "felt himself to be an exceptional specimen." Initially, he's not dressed in cute, laidback overalls, but instead in "handmade silk suits, custom shoes fashioned from the finest leather...and has a gold pocket watch." And it's no wonder, as he comes from a very wealthy family. His owner is the sweet Abilene Tulane, who "thought almost as highly of Edward as Edward thought of himself." But the problem with their relationship is that Edward doesn't reciprocate this love. He's not a good listener: "in truth, he was not very interested in what people had to say."

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Guest Blogger: Amy Briseño

Amy BrisenoNew Year's resolutions are something I never really resolved to make. Considering my "New Year" is a different time of year than it is for everyone else, I never really considered December 31st such a big deal. The only thing that always catches my attention, besides the obvious hard to miss fireworks, giant disco balls, etc., is everyone else's resolve to do a 180 for the year ahead. But if every year we all do a 180, we'd all be doing 360's every other year and never really change anything. Looking forward to the big picture is always admirable, but I like to think that it's just as important if not more so to also be able to look back. If we can see where we got lost along the way, it only helps our resolve to change directions in our lives with purpose. Which, personally, I think beats going in circles.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013
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