Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Joy of Childhood Poetry

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The Joy of Childhood Poetry

One of my earliest memories is of my mother reading Mother Goose books to me. I know that even as a little tot I had a large repertoire of rhymes that I could recite by heart. In kindergarten we learned lots of songs that were essential nursery rhymes set to music: Jack and Jill, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Old King Cole, London Bridge is Falling Down, and many others. Mother Goose nursery rhymes were a passage of childhood for my generation, as they had been for hundreds of years.

mother gooseWhen our children were young, we continued the tradition, buying different collections of rhymes and reading them to the kids over and over so that they soon knew them by heart. There’s something about rhyme and meter that imbed themselves in the unconscious, and even more so if they’re combined with a tune. I think you could sing the first line of a Mother Goose rhyme to an Alzheimer’s patient, and he’d be able to finish it for you.

To my sorrow, I found during my second teaching career (2006-2014) that most of my elementary school students weren’t familiar with nursery rhymes. In elementary general music, many activities start with a well-known rhyme. Since my students didn’t have a shared knowledge base of rhymes, I had to teach them a rhyme first before we could use it as the basis of a music experience. Sigh.

Back in the day, memorization of poems was a popular classroom activity. Few teachers today are able to spend time on this pursuit, because it’s usually not measured on standardized tests.

However, I still partially remember four poems I learned from Mrs. Susan Westerfield when I was in second grade, more than fifty years ago. Since they are in the public domain, I will share them with you. (Please forgive the improper formatting. I am a dunce when it comes to code.)

SwingThe Swing
By Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

ShadowMy Shadow
By Robert Louis Stevenson

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow-
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.

He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an errant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

Gingham by JeromeG111 CCLic

Photo by JeromeG111, used under Creative Commons License

The Duel
By Eugene Field

The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
’Twas half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t’other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I wasn’t there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went “bow-wow-wow!”
And the calico cat replied “mee-ow!”
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
(Now mind: I’m only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, “Oh, dear! what shall we do!”
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw
In the awfullest way you ever saw—
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
(Don’t fancy I exaggerate!
I got my views from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning where the two had sat
They found no trace of the dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole the pair away!
But the truth about the cat and the pup
Is this: They ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
(The old Dutch clock it told me so,
And that is how I came to know.)

Wynken by Crossett Library

Photo by Crossett Library

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
By Eugene Field

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe,—
Sailed on a river of crystal light
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring-fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we,”
Said Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe;
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew;
The little stars were the herring-fish
That lived in the beautiful sea.
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish,—
Never afeard are we!”
So cried the stars to the fishermen three,
Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam,—
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home:
’Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed
As if it could not be;
And some folk thought ’twas a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea;
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed;
So shut your eyes while Mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock on the misty sea
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three,—
Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

I even remember drawing illustrations for Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

What about you–did you learn nursery rhymes as a child? Did you memorize poems in elementary school? What are some of your favorites? Share with us in the comments below.

Color Your World Wisteria (Not)

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Color Your World Wisteria (Not)

This is not wisteria. I’m not sure what this bush is called, but the color is close to wisteria, so I’m using it for the Color Your World challenge, and for Cee’s Flower of the Day challenge as well.

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Creative Juice #34

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Creative Juice #34

Thirteen articles to inspire you.

In the Meme Time: For Now

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In the Meme Time: For Now

for-now

Video of the Week #90: Perfectionism

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Video of the Week #90: Perfectionism

Guest Post: 4 Reasons To Keep An Idea Journal by Nicole Bianchi

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Many thanks to Nicole Bianchi for her permission to post this excerpt:

Leonardo da Vinci. Marie Curie.

Leonardo

Leonardo da Vinci

Thomas Edison. Beatrix Potter.

What do all four of these people have in common?

Not only were they highly motivated and creative individuals, but they also all kept an idea journal.

An idea journal is quite different from a diary. You use an idea journal not to record all of the things that happened to you throughout the day, but to jot down daily goals, achievements, opinions, observations, or bits of inspiration. If you’re working on a project, you can fill the idea journal with updates on your progress, thoughts on how to improve the project, and anything else that motivates you.

A writer’s idea journal might be filled with ideas for stories or articles or blog posts (no need to fear writer’s block when you have an idea journal). An artist’s might contain sketches or inspirations for drawings. Ultimately, the idea journal exists as a private place to plant your ideas and watch them grow.

Here are four reasons why you should keep an idea journal.

  1. An Idea Journal Helps You Remember & Develop Ideas

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Leo’s design for a flying machine

Among Leonardo da Vinci’s many achievements, he was a brilliant artist, mathematician, engineer, scientist, and inventor.

In his notebooks, he filled pages and pages with sketches, scientific diagrams, ideas for new inventions, and reflections on art.

Because da Vinci was left-handed, he found it easier to write from right to left. That means his notes can only be read in a mirror. To make his writings even more private, he often employed a kind of shorthand and didn’t worry about perfect penmanship or proper punctuation.

What he did care about was carefully recording his lab notes and his many ideas for new inventions: everything from a flying machine to a submarine prototype.

Da Vinci’s notebooks ensured that he never forgot any of his ideas.

If you write down every great idea that comes into your head right away like da Vinci did, you will not have to worry about forgetting an idea ever again.

Further, the action of writing down an idea forces you to think more deeply about it.

The idea journal helps you clarify your thoughts and express them more clearly.

Note from Andrea: Does reading this excerpt make you want read the other three reasons to keep an idea journal? Read the full article.

It’s Easy Being Green

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It’s Easy Being Green

Participating in The Daily Post’s Photo Challenge:

Spring

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Spring

I’m participating in the Tuesday Photo Challenge this week. When I saw the prompt yesterday, I knew that several of the plants I’ve been seeing on my morning dog walks would be perfect.

For me, spring is all about buds and blossoms.

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Ocotillo with buds.

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Prickly pear with buds. We should have blossoms next week.

Did you know that pomegranates bloom? My neighbors have had this tree for years, but I never noticed the blossoms before. (You have to have flowers before you make fruit. Duh.)

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The circle of life: blossom juxtaposed with last year’s rotting fruit.

Aloes have the ugliest blossoms ever. But hummingbirds think they’re delightful.

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Have you ever seen desert dandelions? They spring up whenever we have a few drops of rain.

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They don’t stay pretty long, though; within days they’re seedy and three feet tall, like these in my back yard.

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And they’re very tenacious. They have evolved to fight back if anyone tries to weed them out. Check out the thorny leaves. Ouch!

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Wordless Wednesday: Oleander

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Wordless Wednesday: Oleander

Doing double duty today–this is also my offering for Cee’s Flower of the Day challenge.

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TUESDAYS OF TEXTURE | WEEK 12 OF 2017

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TUESDAYS OF TEXTURE | WEEK 12 OF 2017

My offerings for the Tuesdays of Texture Challenge:IMG_0055

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