Poet-Tree and Green Space

I can’t believe I’ve never posted about Poetry in the Park before. If you have a nearby park or even a grassy area at your school to take your students, I urge you to provide your students with these outdoor writing experiences.


I’ve read several articles about the importance and benefits of green space in learning, as well as how it can help students with distractibility. According to one article, “When kids with ADHD spend time outside or looking at nature, it increases their ability to pay attention and control their impulses”. Last year a like-minded teacher and I began bringing our students to the park once a month for an outdoor writing experience. For these trips, we give a short mini-lesson in the classroom and then walk the students to a nearby park. Once at the park, they select their own personal space to work. They separate and set in on their assignment. Students love this writing experience and I do too, as it’s very rewarding to the students and teacher; the work they produce at the park is consistently astounding! Students are so engaged. They’re encouraged to use their senses at the park to inspire their writing.

Each season, we complete seasonal “five senses poetry”. I’ll be sure to post about this later. This year, we’ve already written about Summer and we’ll be writing about Autumn next visit. On our most recent visit we wrote cinquain, diamante and windspark poetry. Pairing our writing with our current Life Science unit, students focused on environmental topics and used their surroundings and what they’ve learned in Science to inspire them. I split my class in groups so they could each visit a tree to make observations. Together, they came up with a list of adjectives to describe their tree. We then split up into our individual spaces. We called this park session “Poet-Tree”.

My class, investigating their trees.

My class, investigating their trees.

Here is my latest Poet-Tree in the park guide. I’ve provided screenshots, but you can download the document via a link at the end if you’d like.

Students visited a tree together and completed the first page of their Poet-Tree guide together. See first page below…


Students then found their own personal outdoor space and completed a poem on the palm tree they just investigated using the following guide for cinquiain poems:

Cinquain Poems

Student samples from my class:

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When finished, they went on to complete a diamante poem. They could choose to write about any environmental topic.
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Student samples from my class:

Diamante Poems

Finally, they worked on windspark poems, another poem of free choice, as long as it had something to do with the environment. These are my favorite!

Windspark Poems

Student samples from my class:

Windspark Poems

Before finding their own private space to complete their poetry and after completing tree brainstorming as a group, they received the following brainstorm list. This was provided to help trigger ideas as students completed the diamante and windspark poems.

Outdoor Brainstorm List

Click the following link to download this booklet – Poet Tree – 5th Grade.

Wednesday Haiku: SLEEP


Sleep. Something I enjoy more than anyone I know, yet throughout my life, I’ve gone through bouts of insomnia. Laying in bed trying to wish myself to sleep is the most irritating feeling, the absolute opposite of the euphoric sleep heaven I wish to enter. And that’s exactly what I did last night – layed in bed for hours, wishing myself to sleep, trying anything possible to shut my mind OFF. I’ve reached moments when I remained awake in bed so long that I said “screw it”, got up and got productive. Last night, I was so tired and determined to sleep, to melt into my bed and drift off into my weightless world. The last time the light from the alarm clock assaulted my eyes was at 4:02am, and I’m sure I fell asleep shortly after. Those two and half hours of sleep were glorious. Ah to feel weightless, suspended and untroubled, free of conscious thought. 

Wednesday Haiku: The Jump

The Jump

I love tutoring over the summer. This is when I get to work with kiddos who are trying to close the academic gap between themselves and their peers. With the little ones, especially in reading, sometimes little progress seems to be observable. I know that learning is occuring, but the new skills seem to sit and marinate for a while. Prompting is necessary, sometimes for seemingly too long. Then, after a seemingly stagnant period, BAM – a huge leap forward. All the sudden the student is readily using the skills we’ve been practicing and progress is clearly evident.

It seems like it all happened from one day to the next, but I know this is just how emergent and early readers tend to exhibit progress. It’s a trend I frequently have to share with parents, especially those who don’t understand the process of learning and think it’s something we can do to a child. In the classroom, the student and I push on and practice. I can see the tiny steps of growth as we work, but they’re not significant enough for mom or dad to recognize. Then the jump happens. Seeing this jump – this is what I live for.

A Simple Thanksgiving Reflection



the memories,

the moment,

the time.


the memories with loved ones,

the comfort of conversation,

the quality time being given to you, and from you, to others,

is immeasurable.

Cherish that,

the true gift.

Cherish kindness and generosity.

Cherish this time to give thanks.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. As you sit at the end of your day, I hope you’re able to identify some moments to be cherished.