Method: Students go outside to imagine themselves as an animal, plant or part of nature and then write poems.
Background: Poetry is an art form, accessible to every student in some way. A poem is an organized way of expressing insight through language. Meter and rhyme combine as one kind of poetry. People have others including song and free verse. The major purpose of this activity is for students to experience nature as the inspiration for a poem—and to successfully write the poem!
Materials: Writing materials
- Everyone can be a poet, at least to some extent—and yet lots of people think any kind of poetic expression is beyond their capacities. This activity is designed for every student—or group of students to create a poem.
- Think of a pleasant setting at Outdoor School, a wooded area or other natural environment. Ask everyone to close their eyes and for a few minutes imagine they are that plant, animal or object in the natural environment. With their eyes closed, you can guide their imagining process with a few words—or simply leave this process to the students on their own.
- Ask students to write a short poem about their object or animal. Poems can be free verse or rhyming. Cinquain and haiku are interesting forms. (Handouts have been included in this book so you can give each student an example of cinquain and haiku. Students can then try and write their own cinquain or haiku.)
- Or, do a group poem. Everyone thinks about the same object or animal. Each person contributes one word. One or more students or the instructor can put all the words together to form the poem. NOTE: Students can imagine they "are" their animal or object, without giving the object or animal human emotions and falling into the point of view which concerns many scientists, called anthropomorphism.
- The completed poems can be typed or printed neatly—and then displayed with a photograph or black and white pen and ink drawing of the subject.
- Select an animal habitat. Write one word that describes the animal you have chosen. On the next line write two words that describe what you look like. On the next line, write three words that describe how you move or where you live. On the next line write two words about how you contribute to the ecosystem where you live, or how you live. On the last line, write another word that describes who you are.
Adapted from: PROJECT WILD (Secondary Activity Guide), Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Western Regional Environmental Education Council, 1983.