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Luke Writes a Poem

by Maryann Whitfield

Have you ever noticed that children sometimes speak in a language we call poetry?  The rhythm of their words and the flow of their thoughts can be pure magic

Luke Writes a Poem

On a day in early June my grandson Luke was outside painting pictures on large rocks.  He loves to paint as many young children do, and the rocks made an interesting canvas.  It wasn’t long though before he began to paint on the paper laid out to protect the table.  The rocks just weren’t big enough for all his ideas. 

While he painted he carried on a conversation with himself.  As I listened to him I noticed the rhythm of his words and the flow of his language sounded like a poem.  I was enchanted by his words.  Picking up a pen that was on the table I wrote what he said. 

I should make some flowers.

Pollen in the middle.

Three flowers

And the sun.

A marigold 

A day flower

A bluebonnet!


I need brown.

I need green.

A tree

I made 

A tree!


Now what should I do?

Now what should I make?

What should I draw?

A hibiscus!

When he finished I showed him what I had written and asked if I could read it to him.  A beaming smile appeared on his face as I read.  Over the next several days we read his poem together.  And now, he often brings his writing to me and says, “Nana, I want to read my poem to you.”

Luke age 6

Learning to Write: Planting the Seeds

On a warm summer day Luke was doing something children love to do.  He was drawing with paint and was talking to no one in particular.  The drawing and the talking were helping him generate and develop ideas for more details to draw in his picture.  Generating and developing ideas is what a writer does.  His drawing held his meaning and was his writing.  He was taking an important step in learning to write.  Luke was ready to see the ideas that were in his mind and drawn in his picture could also be written in printed language.  

We often hear our child say precious things.  This happens when they play, draw pictures, talk to us, or just talk to themselves.  These natural moments create opportunities to help our little one take a step as a writer and a reader.  Since their oral language is ahead of their ability to write independently, we can help capture the special ways they express themselves.  We can take the pen and write down their ideas for them.  We need only write a few of their words.  By doing this we demonstrate the power of learning to write, and we show them that what they think and say can be written and then can be read – by the child and by others.  We are planting the seeds of learning to write and to read as we go about our daily life with our child.

Literacy Library Bulletin Links

Tim O’Keefe – Immersion into Language: Speaking and Writing

Teresa Thayer Snyder – ish

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