RSS

Blog posts tagged with 'Bruce Lansky'

Poetry Olio

The International Literacy Association Conference is less than a month away!  

Join your favorite poets for an evening of poetry and laughs on Saturday, July 15 at 7:30pm at Hyatt Regency Orlando, Plaza International Ballroom H.

Poetry Olio

New Poetry Programs


Authors in Schools

Bruce Lansky at a school visit

Poetry Month is almost over, but you can keep the fun going with two new Giggle Poetry programs Bruce Lansky developed:

A new entertaining workshop for middle-school students with a STEM/STEAM approach that gets them started writing humorous, free verse poems on scientific subjects (Science was never this much fun!). 

And "Poetry Madness" a highly engaging assembly program featuring performances by students and teachers plus writing workshop for high-school students to get them started writing sonnets like Shakespeare’s famous 18th sonnet and poems like Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” to name just a few.

For more information on inviting Bruce to your school, please visit www.AuthorsinSchools.com.

How to Write New Year's Resolutions

How to Write New Year's Resolutions

by Bruce Lansky

If you read Bridget Jones's Diary, you know it starts out with her New Year's resolutions: lists of things she will and won't do. I'd reprint them all, but it would take too much time and effort to get the reprint rights, so I'll just serve up a smattering of my favorites: 

I Will Not 

Waste money on exotic underwear since pointless as have no boyfriend. 
Fall for any of the following: alcoholics, workaholics, commitment phobics, chauvinists, freeloaders, perverts. 
Have crushes on men, but instead form relationships based on mature assessment of character. 

I Will 

Go to gym three times a week not merely to buy sandwich. 
Learn to program video. 
Give all clothes which have not worn for two years or more to homeless. 
Not go out every night but stay in and read books and listen to classical music. 

Interestingly, the publisher of Bridget Jones's Diary put some of her resolutions on the back cover of the book to promote it: 

Meet Bridget Jones--a 30-something Singleton who is certain she would have all the answers if she could: 

  a. lose 7 pounds
  b. stop smoking
  c. develop Inner Poise

And the studio that distributed the movie used her resolutions on the poster promoting the movie. Surely, I'm not the only person who was struck by the comic brilliance of Bridget's resolutions, but I'm probably one of the few who see them as delicious examples of list poems. 

If this is isn't your first PoetryTeachers.com "poetry lesson," you already know my take on list poems--they're just about the easiest way to get kids (or adults) writing poetry. Writing a list poem is fairly easy. All you have to do is make a list, using parallel structure throughout. What makes some list poems better than others is that the better ones: 

  • make sense 
  • "go somewhere" (that is, begin somewhere and end somewhere else) 
  • include humor or some other feeling, if possible 

Notice that Bridget Jones's resolutions not only make sense, they go somewhere--that is, they cover what she won't do and what she will do. Reading them, you can quickly grasp that she's a desperate Singleton who doesn't have a boyfriend and is trying to get her act together so she might be able to attract one in the future. And, they're funny--they give you a sense of just how unlikely it is that she'll succeed with any of her resolutions. 

Now that you know how much I love Bridget (if you haven't read the book or seen the movie, I suggest you do so at your earliest convenience), and know how much I like list poems, consider this opportunity: Have your class write list poems when they get back to school in January after their holiday vacations. The theme can be their New Year's resolutions or that old chestnut "What I Did Over Winter Vacation." 

Here's my quick take on both of those themes: 

My New Year's Resolutions 

Turn off "Stranger Things" when I'm supposed to be studying for speling test. 
Don't stay home with a "stomach ache" the day of speling test. 
Don't express mock surprise when I flunk speling. 
Don't fake my father's signature on the report card. 
Or, at very least, learn how to spel his first name correctly.

A Bad Case of Sneezes

A Bad Case of Sneezes by Bruce LanskyLast night I had the sneezes.
I was really very ill.
My mother called the doctor
who prescribed a purple pill.

At eight o’clock I went to bed.
My mom turned out the light.
I used up one whole box of Kleenex
sneezing through the night.

I sneezed my brains out in my bed.
I didn’t get much rest.
So that’s the reason, teacher,
that I flunked the spelling test.

Text © Bruce Lansky with permission of its publisher Meadowbrook Press. Illustration © Stephen Carpenter.

Girls to the Rescue Theater

Girls to the Rescue

Looking for some theater ideas for your classroom?  Clover Park High School in Lakewood, WA is rehearsing a one-act play based on a Girls to the Rescue story!  Read the article below then visit www.FictionTeachers.com for more ideas and stories for your class!

The plays are the thing for Clover Park High School Thespian - The Suburban Times


Available from these retailers

Amazon.com Barnes&Noble BN.com BAM! Books-a-Million IndieBound

Short Metaphorical Poems

Giggle Poetry

by Bruce Lansky

Most of my school visits include 4 or 5 writing workshops—usually with 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students. And since we usually write 3 to 6 poems in each of those sessions,
I wind up creating about 10 to 20 poems on every full-day school visit. Recently I have begun to include free-verse poems in the mix. This allows us to focus on ideas and words—without having to worry about rhythm and rhyme. I started experimenting with a new “genre” I invented called “Short Metaphorical Poems.” These poems usually involve a comparison between two things or ideas. Sometimes they use metaphors (e.g., “My Mother is My Alarm Clock”), sometimes they use similes (e.g., “The Moon is Like a Light Bulb”) and sometimes they use comparisons (e.g., “How to Tell if the Critter Who Sleeps in Your Bed is a Dog or Cat”).

When I write metrical poems with students, I usually spend about 2/3 of the time explaining and demonstrating where the rhyming words go, the difference between “true rhymes” (in which both the vowels and consonants rhyme—like nap and cap) and “near rhymes” (in which only the vowels rhyme—like nap and hat), the need for a consistent rhyme pattern, how to count “beats,” the difference between “beats” and “syllables” (usually there are two or three or four beats in each line and two or three times as many syllables), and the need for a consistent rhythm pattern.

I thought you might find it interesting to share a recent free-verse comparative poem I wrote with students I recently visited in Dallas and Wichita. I got the idea in a 5th grade workshop in McKinney, TX. While working on “The Moon is Like a Light Bulb,” a clever student suggested that because the moon reflects light from the sun, it is more like a mirror than a light bulb. At the end of the session, I asked the students to think about other comparisons they might want to write about. One suggested a comparison between dogs and cats.

I worked on that suggestion with other 5th grade students in McKinney, TX and with 4th and 5th grade students in Andover, KS. The students seemed to love the concept and couldn’t stop thinking about experiments that would demonstrate the difference. The challenge of writing a quasi-scientific, humorous poem about the difference between cats and dogs kept students’ hands up throughout the workshops.

(I should probably mention that students in my writing workshops usually spend more time revising lines of poetry we’ve just written than writing new lines of poetry. Often they would rather rewrite, or fix, the line of poetry we’ve just written than start work on the next new line of poetry. I think this may be one of the biggest lessons they learn: That rewriting poetry is as important and fun as writing down a fresh idea.

Maybe it was the fun of writing non-metrical poems; maybe it was the plunge into scientific thinking—but whatever it was, the students were fascinated*. After I got home I decided to fine-tune the poem for presentation on my Giggle Poetry Facebook page. Below is my second rewrite on the dog/cat comparison theme. You might want to show it to your children or students to see what other experiments they can come up with.

How to Tell If the Critter Who Sleeps On Your Bed is a Dog or Cat

Call the critter. If it runs to you and wants you to pet it, it’s a dog. If it looks at you as if you are crazy, it’s a cat.

Throw a tennis ball across the yard and say, “Fetch!” If the critter chases it, brings it back to you—all wet and gooey—and then wags its tail happily, it’s a dog. If the critter walks after the ball, sniffs it, and then walks away, it’s a cat.

Take your critter to the lake, then run into the water and yell, “Come!” If the critter follows you into the water it’s a dog. If the critter won’t go near the water, it’s a cat.

On the fourth of July, bring your critter to the parade. When the fire truck drives by, if the critter chases after it barking loudly, it’s a dog. If the critter runs home and hides under your bed, it’s a cat.

Pick the critter up and throw it onto your bed. If it lands safely on its feet, it’s a cat. If it crash lands on its back it’s a dog.

Now that you know if your critter is a cat or a dog, take good care of it so your parents don’t get so tired of feeding it they threaten to donate it to Goodwill.

Now Available

Mary Had a Little Jam

Mary Had a Little a Jam the best-selling “fractured nursery rhyme” book is now back and better than ever with twice as many poems!

This collection of silly, contemporary rhymes recount the latest adventures of Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, Old King Cole, Old Mother Hubbard, Little Boy Blue, Little Bo-Beep, and other popular Mother Goose characters.  Written by a gang of gifted poets including Bruce Lansky, Kenn Nesbitt, Linda Knaus, and Darren Sardelli, these rhymes are guaranteed to delight children of all ages.

With over 800,000 copies sold of the original edition, it’s the most popular book of funny, contemporary nursery rhymes in the English language.  The new edition includes 40 kid-tested and hilarious poems from Peter, Peter, Pizza Eater that’s sure to keep kids laughing long after the last poems are read.

“An instant classic.  Move over Mother Goose!”
—Peggy Gisler, “Dear Teacher” syndicated columnist

“Long overdue!  A kinder, gentler Mother Goose… and funny too!”
—Christine Clark, “Humpty Dumpty’s Magazine

Available from these retailers

Amazon.com Barnes&Noble BN.com BAM! Books-a-Million IndieBound
Mary Had a Little Jam Giveaway

One in Five British Mothers Regrets Her Child’s Name

by Bruce Lansky

When I read the title and reading line for the article Amelia Hill wrote in The Guardian: I guessed that the leading cause of “baby-name regret” was caused by picking a popular (e.g., top-20) name and then realizing how many other parents had made precisely the same choices.

Here are two fragments from the article that explain when and why parents begin regretting the names they have chosen:

-“The main reason for regretting the name was that it was too commonly used (25%).”
-“23% began to regret their choice when their children first started nursery or school.”

Why do so many parents fall into the trap of picking highly popular names for their children, (even though naming experts strongly recommend against that)?

Once you are pregnant, you start reading articles and books about baby names (which contain lists of the most popular names); and you also may start reading the birth announcement section of your local newspaper. Your ears are likely to perk up when friends and relatives start talking about their new babies. And when you notice new parents pushing baby strollers or carrying babies in slings, you go over to have a closer look. If you’re lucky, you might even be invited to hold the baby. Naturally, you ask the baby’s name, and say something nice about the baby and its name.

Pretty soon you realize that your interest in anything related to babies is giving you a “good feel” for names and which ones you like. Every time you meet a cute baby and “like” the name you are adding “data” to your very own baby-name “research project”—which includes your feelings about the names of cute babies you’ve cooed over or bounced; the names of babies your friends, relatives and neighbors have just announced; and the cute celebrity babies photographed in “People” and “Us.”

At some point it may dawn on you that the short list of names you are actively considering for your baby includes half of the top-10 list published every year by the Social Security Administration (or the agency in your country that publishes official name statistics).

How can newly pregnant parents avoid picking names they may wind up regretting, when they find out how popular they are? It helps to start your name search by making a list of names you like. They could be names of famous people you admire (e.g., Lincoln and Eleanor) names of characters in books or movies you love (e.g., Scout and Starbuck); names of your favorite actors or Olympic heroes (e.g., Simone and Bolt); names common in the language you studied in high school (e.g., Natasha and Ivan); names of your favorite foods or wines (e.g., Brie and Kale); names of your favorite places to vacation (e.g., Kauai and Siena); or names of relatives you want to honor.

By picking names that have meaning for you, you won’t be sidetracked by falling-in-like with names currently used by your friends, relatives and acquaintances and by the popular names in announcement lists and the media.

Baby Names in the News

For Bruce's latest musings on names and naming check out his blog, Baby Names in the News.

100,000+ Baby Names is available in stores and online.

If I Ran the School

If I Ran the School

Jenna at Musings from the Middle School made up a great lesson plan for If I Ran the School.  You can download her instructions here!

If I Ran the School is available as an eBook at the following:

Amazon  iTunes  Barnes&Noble  Google   

Signup to receive
news, specials & more!