Shel Silverstein is a staple in 5th grade.  Many years ago, while teaching 5th grade, I received Light in the Attic for my birthday.  I brought it and Where the Sidewalk Ends, its companion, in to class where I shared it with small groups.  I let them find their favorite funny pictures and accompanying poems and mark them with bookmarks they had designed themselves.  I read a few favorites aloud in class, showing the drawings on the video camera.  We did this in the few minutes before lunch or after PE for a “settle down” effect.

To integrate poetry with a grammar lesson later, students were asked to supply a noun for each blank in Richard Armor’s poem, “Money.” Then we compared our answers with the original which follows:


__________earn it.

__________burn it.

__________lend it.

__________spend it.

__________fake it.

__________take it.

___________leave it.

__________receive it.

__________save it.

__________crave it.

__________seize it.

__________increase it.

__________lose it.

I could use it.

Not only did we talk about why a word that fit the blank was a noun (Was it a person, place or thing?  Did it form its plural by adding “s” or “es”? ) but also why Armour chose the particular word he did.

Here were Armor’s choices:


Workers earn it.

Spendthrifts burn it.

Bankers lend it.

Women spend it.

Forgers fake it.

Taxes take it.

Dying leave it.

Heirs receive it.

Thrifty save it.

Misers crave it.

Robbers seize it.

Rich increase it.

Gamblers lose it.

I could use it.

Just look at the new words to be added to the students’ vocabulary list!

These little “tips” using poetry in the classroom lend fun to the tedium of the Language Arts Bloc and brighten up both the students’ and the teacher’s day while “getting the job done.”




Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 plus years of teaching "under my belt." I have taught all levels from pre-K "(library lady" or "book lady"--volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the "difficult years." I had some of the "funnest" experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the "young, fun teacher," I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a "dream-fit" for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is "in my blood," so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to "come out and play."


  1. I love this idea, Rae – what a cracking idea. It certainly takes the pressure off the students when the rhyme is already done and dusted and it means they can be a lot more creative in thinking about their choices.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And word choice is so important. My focus for the last five weeks of my Advanced Writing course is: Is this word/phrase/sentence the best word? and Is this word/phrase/sentence clear? It’s all in the good word choices!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: