Every afternoon for three-plus weeks my six-year-old grandson from California has called me in Texas via Face Time. He’s out of school, homeschooling under the shelter-in-place order with his two-year old brother and his two attorney parents who are also working-from-home.
Mom, a stalwart, intelligent, fierce, loving mother, created a school corner in the kitchen: pencil cup, clock on the wall, calendar, bulletin board, and of course a daily schedule. I’m on the schedule at 2P EST as “Art!” He calls and we play together.
Meet the paper-peeps (above), all made from re-purposed paper and boxes I’ve found around the house and in my studio: (front L-R) Bug, Funky Monkey & Bob; (back L-R) Russell, Jet-pack, Darla, & Butterfly Man. This burgeoning community of peeps have cousins and friends made by my art-playmate in San Diego.
When he calls, he always has his peeps lined up and ready to play. We invent plays. We read stories, riddles and poems to each other from the books we have on hand. His favorite: 5000 Awesome Facts About Everything. My favorite is from a collection given to me by my parents when I was a child: The Family Treasury of Children’s Stories (Doubleday), especially Book One, a book of rhymes, riddles, poems, and stories. That is, as you can see here, well loved.
Riddles, too! We love riddles. After I read all of the ones in the Family Treasury Book One, we wanted more so I bought a kindle copy of 101 What Am I Riddles, Vol 2. I love it!
We spend an hour to an hour and a half together-apart daily, even most Saturdays, often engaging in inquiry such as: Why is a jaguar called a jaguar? This led us to Native American naming practices. How does a baby tiger get its stripes? This led us to a discussion of DNA, Deoxyribonucleic Acid, a very long word G-son declined to pronounce and it led us to this fun folktale, How the Tiger Got His Stripes:
Now, we are working on writing his first book of poetry: A Book of Poems (working title, forthcoming as a desktop publication). I give the prompts and act as scribe, he dictates the text. So far we’ve written two: an If Poem and a Point of View poem.
Here are the poem prompts for you:
If Poems Read this poem by Nikki Giovanni: if you plant grain you get fields of flour if you plant seeds you get grass… i planted once and a robin red breast flew in my window but a tom cat wouldn’t let it stay “If Poems” by Dellview Elementary School, San Antonio third graders with Ms. D if you run if you crush a brick you might sweat you get pebbles if you run away if you crush an egg your mama will come find you you get scrambled eggs i ran away once i got crushed once but i got lost when my boyfriend broke my heart Try to write your own “if” poem. It should have three parts that are all connected. Two of the lines should start with "if," and it should have a surprise ending. Write it like Nikki Giovanni, without a title, capital letters, or punctuation.
Point of View Poems: using a voice that is not your own Think of an animal. Don’t tell us what animal you are thinking about. Now try to think like you are that animal. Write what you would say. Here are some questions and an example poem to get you started. What do you do? What sound do you make? What do you look like? Where do you live? What do you know? Example poem by e. ellis phelps: eight legs like thin wire cling silently to the silk i’ve spun swinging under the eve waiting for prey. i know how to catch a mosquito do you know who i am?
Bliss. That’s the only word for it, well, beside FUN! & gratitude. Extreme gratitude for the technology that makes it all possible, for the time, albeit unfortunately come-by.
In some small way, I hope this post brings you joy and amusing occupation. If you try making paper-peeps or writing poems from these prompts, and you should care to do so, please share them here, in the comment section below. I’d love to see what happens!
May All Beings know healing. May All Beings know hope. May All Beings know peace. May All Beings know Love. May All Beings be relieved from suffering. And so It Is.