Hi PSCCC parents,
I’m forwarding this information about 2 week-long Poetry in Nature day programs that our friend’s lovely sitter (and teacher at Montessori Day School in Prospect Heights) is running at the end of July and early August.  Info about the counselors and detailed activities are towards the end of her email.  I think it would be more for the older sibs of PSCCC kids.
All best,
Elise (Zoe Little Star)
Elm Tree Poetry Weeks: Writing in Nature is a summer program where we will explore Prospect Park through language by leading your children in poetry and art collaborations.

What: Poetry-in-Nature Day Program. 12 spots available per week (Ages 4-7)
Where:         Prospect Park
When:           Week 1: July 27-31, 2015
      Week 2: August 3-7, 2015
Cost:        $375 / week

At Elm Tree Poetry, we will write sound poems, color poems, and letter poems. We will write family poems and name poems, animal, insect, and plant poems. We will write silly poems and serious poems, poems using image, poems using apostrophe, poems using metaphor and rhyme. We will write poems about the everyday and poems about the unexpected. We will write poems with plans and poems using chance. We will use found material to write personal poems and break old poems apart to create something new. Along the way, the children will assemble a Park Poetry Scrapbook from materials found in the park, writing, drawings, and crafts.

Daily activities will include:

  • Morning Nature Walk- we will trek through the back trails of Prospect Park to collect natural objects to use for projects and writings

  • Playtime at the Prospect Park Natural Playground each day, and on scorchers, we’ll head to a sprinkler playground! The writing and thinking about writing will continue throughout these activities–we’ll whisper lines to the children at the beginning of playtime and ask them for response lines whenever they feel inspired and as we transition into the next activity

  • Cutting up newspapers and magazines in search of pictures and words for our scrapbook poetry collages and word bags

  • Explorations of our senses through play-dough, water, sand, dirt, and how our senses affect what we write and feel. Ex: build play-dough scenes using leaves, sticks, etc. and then write about our creations

  • A daily re-aloud and discussion- we will bring books for the children to look through and read independently, and go to the library every afternoon before pick-up

  • A visit to the Brooklyn Museum

  • A visit to the Botanic Gardens

*Important Note: Teaching artists and older writers will act as scribes for younger writers

Daily Schedule

9:00:            Welcome & Morning Stories (Meet at Grand Army Plaza Prospect Park Entrance)

9:15:            Nature Walk

10:15:          Snack

10:30:          Improvisational Games

11:00:          Collaborative / Independent Writing and Sharing

12:00:          Lunch

1:00:            Natural Playground / Sprinkler

1:45             Crafts & Continued Writing & Sharing

2:15:            Read-Aloud

3:00:            Pick-up at Brooklyn Public Library, Grand Army Plaza

* We will notify you of special visits to the Brooklyn Museum and Botanic Gardens at the beginning of each week

Readings: We will read work from authors who are directly as well as indirectly inspired by nature: Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, D.H. Lawrence, e.e. cummings, Federico Garcia Lorca, Nicolas Guillen, Sandra Cisneros, Alice Notley, poems from Technicians of the Sacred, ed Jerome Rothenberg, Frank O’Hara, Harryette Mullen, Lisa Jarnot, Aja Monet, Brenda Hillman, Heidi Lynn Staples, Audre Lorde, Juiliana Spahr, Gary Snyder, and more.

Below are example poems written by students ranging from ages three to eleven years old that we will use for inspiration in our collaborations:

In this class-wide collaboration, Ms. Bell’s Kindergarten class at MLK Elementary in Tuscaloosa, AL wrote about animals using colors, sounds, and shapes to form similes.    

Snake Dog Tiger Shark Cat Spider

Snake moves like a bicycle.

Dog flips over like a snake.

Dog is red like a red tiger.

Dog has a body like two circles.

Dog has a voice like a baby.

Dog moves like a cat.

Dog’s voice is like a motorcycle.

Tiger moves like a monkey.

Shark sounds like a tiger.

Dog sounds like Ms. May.

Dog has legs like flowers.

Instead of legs shark has a tail.

Dog moves like a duck.

Cat has a body like a ball.

Spider’s legs are purple and red.


The second student example comes from an activity inspired by renowned early childhood education expert Bev Bos. In one of her more famous activities, she asks children, “How does your story start?” and then transcribes the student’s exact words. We will use this technique with your children this summer, as Sally did here with her three-year-old student, Henry:

My Mom

My mom already told me about my mom. She has curly hair and eyes, she has green eyes, and yes they’re pretty. She is a girl. We play together. We went to Bisbee. There’s a train house, old fashioned, and we play on it a lot, and my sister has a scrape from the train. It didn’t bleed, so my mom didn’t do anything. She gave her a hug. One time, a really long time ago, I saw a crab eating a bug, and we lived in a hotel by a creek. And there’s even a waterfall by the creek, and there’s a pump with a bucket. A pump puts water out into a bucket. That’s what pumps do. You know what buckets are. There’s a lot of restaurants there, and we went to them, and one night we went to one called Faeries. It’s not a drive-thru, it’s a go in-restaurant. I had a plain hamburger with French fries. My mom had a salad with salami, and she shared the salami with me. That was really nice. Sometimes she gives me notes, and I don’t know what they say. Sometimes people read them to me. Because I just like her. I love her because sometimes we go to Costco and we get little carts and treats. Sometimes they have lollipops and sometimes they have cookies.

In the final student example, KeAsia, a fourth grader at MLK Elementary wrote a magic spell after listening to a recording of Nicolas Guillen’s “Sensemaya” in Spanish before reading it in English.

Spell for KeAsia

I used to be poor before I was rich.

I used to be a fox before I was a chicken.

I used to be a steak before I was a cat.

pow pooda pow pooda meow
pow pooda pow pooda meow
pow pooda pow pooda meow

pow pooda pow pooda meow

I used to be a catfish before I was a bee.
I used to be a wolf before I was a macaroni.

I used to be a human before I was a powerfish.


pow pooda pow pooda meow

pow pooda pow pooda meow

pow pooda pow pooda meow

pow pooda pow pooda meow

I used to be a steak before I was a cow.

I used to be an anaconda before I was a camera.

pow pooda pow pooda meow
pow pooda pow pooda meow
pow pooda pow pooda meow
pow pooda pow pooda meow                               

What to Bring:

  1. hard cover composition notebook

  2. pencils and erasers

  3. water bottle

  4. lunch & two snacks

  5. bathing suit

  6. change of clothes or underwear (optional)

  7. water shoes (no flip-flops please)

  8. small towel

  9. plastic bag for wet suits

  10. appropriate walking shoes

  11. clothes that can get messy!

About Elm Tree Poetry Founders/ Teaching Artists:

Sally Rodgers grew up in Tucson, Arizona but has spent the past four years living in Tuscaloosa, AL. After earning her bachelors degree from Portland State University, she worked for two years as a preschool teacher in Tucson at the Second Street Children’s school. Here she learned about the play-based and child-directed approaches to teaching that continue to inspire her work with all age-levels. In Alabama, Sally stayed busy by earning her MFA in Poetry and by teaching Composition, Literature, and Creative Writing at the college level. Her greatest passion, however, became clear to her through her experience founding the University of Alabama Writers in the Schools Program with her friend Kenny Kruse. In this program, she acted as both Associate Director and Director of Curriculum. She also maintained residencies at Northridge High School and in a fourth grade classroom at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. She is excited to explore the intersection of language and nature with your children.

Romy Feder grew up on the Upper West Side of New York City. She earned her bachelors degree at Pitzer College, Claremont, CA. in Media Studies and Creative Writing. In 2011, she received a Fulbright English Teaching Fellowship and taught at the University of Costa Rica, San Jose. She led poetry workshops for students and faculty and gave lectures on North American history and culture. She is a 2013 recipient of the Truman Capote Foundation Scholarship and a Graduate Council Fellowship to study at the University of Alabama MFA in poetry. Romy also has training in Montessori Early Childhood Education practices and has worked as a caregiver for children since the age of 15. She continues to work as a caregiver and has found that children are one of the strongest influences on her writing. They reveal profound philosophical thoughts, observations and questions that always keep her listening. She is thrilled to introduce your children to great poets and guide them in explorations of their own voice.