When I was teaching 3rd grade in AL and then again later in GA I used the poetry from Shel Silverstein’s books often with my students. They were great for teaching language learning and the rhythm of metered words. They were excellent for lessons on rhyming and syllables. They taught the magic of words that were silly and funny. They helped us use words to draw colorful and exotic images. They helped us speak in chorus using our bodies to celebrate the music of the words themselves.
They helped us think outside of the boxes that normal language lessons put us in.
More importantly, although I never actually made this the focus of the lessons, – they taught us about life. They talked and modeled and walked us through fear, hope, joy, sorrow, and love.
Take a look at these two.
“Hug O’War” from Where The Sidewalk Ends
I will not play at tug o’ war.
I’d rather play at hug o’ war,
Where everyone hugs Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins.
“How Many, How Much” from A Light in the Attic
How many slams in an old screen door?
Depends how loud you shut it.
How many slices in a bread?
Depends how thin you cut it.
How much good inside a day?
Depends how good you live ’em.
How much love inside a friend?
Depends how much you give ’em.
I am not teaching those kiddos anymore. They are adults living out their own lives now. I hope they remember how much love there is in a day and how much healing there is in a shared giggle every now and then.