“Where I’m From” Poems and Blackout Poetry from Kids’ Writing Workshop

On April 21, our Kids’ Writing Workshop for ages 8-12 met to do some poetry in honor of National Poetry Month. We started with a poem template based on a poem by George Ella Lyon called “Where I’m From”:

Where I’m From

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening,
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

I’m from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I’m from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I’m from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.

I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger,
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.

Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments–
snapped before I budded —
leaf-fall from the family tree.

I had the kids use a template which I adapted from the “Freeology” website: http://freeology.com/worksheet-creator/poetry/i-am-from-poem/. I tried to make it easier for kids to use. This isn’t the actual template kids used in class, because I printed out a previous draft by mistake, but it worked out fine. If you want to do this activity I recommend using this revised one:

Encourage your kids to think about how they would express the way their house looks or their favorite toy with simple but vivid images, conveying how it looks, smells, feels, etc.

Here’s what the kids came up with! I think they were very creative and I told them these poems will make great Mother’s Day presents!

We also did a blackout poetry activity using pages from wrecked children’s books that had to be discarded. There are lots of different ways you can do blackout poetry, but I recommend scanning the page first for any words that pop out as having a similar meaning or theme, that can be pulled out of the prose and put together to form a new poem. I circle those and then start blacking out other things.

We’ll have our next writing workshop on Friday, June 16. We’ll be doing fiction writing. To sign up call 626-744-4066 option 4.

AnnMarie Kolakowski

I'm a youth services librarian currently working at the Lamanda Park Branch Library while Central Library is closed for seismic repairs. I purchase juvenile fiction for grades 2-8, and some foreign languages. I do a lot of programs with school-age kids, including 3 regular book clubs (Windows and Mirrors, Read Around the World, and Lucha Libros), as well as writing workshops and STEAM/science programs. I also Infant/Toddler Storytimes and Preschool Storytimes, and outreach to local area preschools. I love what I do, working with kids of all ages to inspire them to learn and use their curiosity and imaginations. Outside of my work at the library, I am also the author of a book on creative writing activities for kids.

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