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 marks my fiftieth year in AAUW (American Association of University Women). The Alvin chapter was begun in 1947, and as a new, green teacher to Alvin Independent School District, I joined in 1968. In the 80's we began a book group to share our love of reading, books,and fellowship with other women and girls who loved the same. We resurrected the group on-line in September of 2015. Eventually Powerful Women Readers folded as an on-line book club, but I kept the title and turned it into a blog. (See "Introduction,"first blog). This is my first experience at blogging or publishing anything and is becomes more fun with each blog posted. I am currently teaching as an adjunct at The University of Houston Clear Lake. This makes my 28th year there after three years at Alvin Community College and an almost-twenty year career as a classroom teacher with Alvin Independent School District. Reading and writing are "in my blood" just like teaching is. I hope you enjoy the blog.


  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

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