At this time of year we celebrate Spring, Poetry, and Butterflies in the Primary wing of the Lower School. Many classes read books about the seasons, all classes read and write poems, and our second graders learn about butterflies, each “hatching” a real butterfly from a chrysalis. To support classroom curriculum, we create a Poetree where first graders write poems about spring to help the Poetree sprout its leaves. Second graders create their own beautiful butterflies to adorn the Poetree.
How does this happen?
Well, Poetrees need a lot of students to make them grow! We start by sharing the book Poetrees by Douglas Florian. The students see the beautiful art, read the poems, and share their own knowledge of trees and poetry. It is fun to hear the first graders explain what you learn by counting the rings of a tree and their surprise when they learn that a tiny acorn will grow into a big oak tree. Next, we talk about the season of Spring. Students explain what happens in Spring with the plants and flowers, what activities they like to do in Spring, and list Spring ‘things’ like mud, frogs, baby birds, and so on. Next, the students write their own spring poems, starting with a rough draft on lined paper. When their poems are done, they copy them onto a leaf template and illustrate the poem. When the leaves are cut out, the Poetree begins to grow. This project happens over two class periods.
In the last trimester of the year, second graders learn everything you can imagine about butterflies and then visit The Butterfly Pavilion just outside of Denver. I love connecting to this unit in the library! We begin our Flutterby lesson by having the students share important and interesting facts they learned about butterflies in our cozy corner. Then we read together. There are many butterfly stories to choose from for a read-aloud and one of my favorites is The Beautiful Butterfly: a Folktale from Spain by Judy Sierra and Victoria Chess. The story is about love, death, grief, and underwear. Students always love it in the end, even if the *mushy* stuff at the beginning makes some of them groan. After the story, I show students how to make a colorful butterfly out of two pieces of tissue paper and a pipe cleaner. It is easy, fun, and helps create a colorful hallway display that is enjoyed by students, teachers, and parents. This lesson takes one library class period.
The Poetree is an annual event for the primary wing students and they love learning that it is their turn to make the Poetree grow.