Painting the Seasons with Poems
7 – 12
You know what they say about Nebraska: If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes! While this may seem like an exaggeration, anyone who has lived through the change of seasons on the prairie knows that it is never a smooth transition. Still, despite the roller-coaster of temperatures, precipitation statistics, and travel advisories, there is no denying the rich beauty of every season in Nebraska.
In this lesson, students will see the seasons change through the eyes of master poets and collect the vivid words and phrases used to chronicle the experience. Then, they will use their found material to create a masterpiece of their own that features words, colors, and pictures telling the story of all four seasons in Nebraska.
In this unit students will:
- Identify imagery and seasonal references in poetry
- Use found words and images to compose poems
- Construct visual projects representative of the images and themes in their poetry
- “Early Winter” by Twyla Hansen
- “Just Before Dawn” by Twyla Hansen
- “Prairie-Chicken” by Twyla Hansen
- “In Autumn” by John G. Neihardt
- “Lines in Late March” by John G. Neihardt
- “Tornado” by Lenora Castillo
- “Platte Mares” by Allison Hedge Coke
- “Words from Neale Woods” by Matt Mason
- “Connections” by Matt Mason
- “August” by Don Welch
- “Indian Summer” by Don Welch
- “October” by Don Welch
- “Nocturne for Autumn’s Ending” by Loren Eiseley
- “Words on a Spring Road” by Loren Eiseley
- “Winter Visitant” by Loren Eiseley
- “Prairie Spring” by Loren Eiseley
(This activity could take one class period, or several class periods, depending on teacher objectives for the unit.)
- Students should divide a piece of notebook paper into four quadrants, assigning each quadrant to one of the four seasons: summer, fall, winter, spring.
- The teacher might opt to have any or all of the poems listed above, in reading materials, read aloud or direct students to read them on their own
- While listening to or reading the poems, students should record any images or ideas reflective of one of the seasons in the designated quadrant in his or her notes.
- After engaging with all of the poems and recording the seasonal images and references in each, students should be left with a substantial list of words and phrases reflective of each of the four seasons.
- From this list, students should compose four found word poems, one for each season. The found word poems should be a purposeful compilation of selected words and phrases from the poems that work together to create fluent lines and new images.
- Once the poems are completed, students should divide a large piece of poster paper into four quadrants and label each after one of the seasons.
- Each found word poem should be copied into the proper season quadrant, but with a twist: The text of the poem should be used to form an image that is representative of the season, making it a concrete poem, as well. For example, the words from the summer poem might be shaped into a sun, or the winter poem might resemble a snowflake.
- Students can add colors, other images, or even 3-D artifacts to complete their Found Word Concrete Poem Season Posters.
Nebraska State Standards
- LA 10.1 Reading: Students will learn and apply reading skills and strategies to comprehend text.
- LA 10.2 Writing: Students will learn and apply writing skills and strategies to communicate.
- LA 10.3 Speaking and Listening: Students will develop and apply speaking and listening skills and strategies to communicate for a variety of purposes.