Wednesday’s Words: On Shel Silverstein and Other Things

Continuing with the idea of teaching poetry to elementary age kids, one sure fire poet is Shel Silverstein, a favorite of kids and adults alike.  With Silverstein, one does not have to wait for an occasion to integrate poetry into daily activities, whether in the classroom or at home (Listen up Grandparents!). Looking at trash from the classroom or from the home, Silverstein’s “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out” is the perfect poetry “happening.” Reading aloud the sound-filled poem (“She’d scour the pots and scrape the pans”) introduces what Sarah will and will not do.  Taking the garbage out is where she draws the line.  Vivid, but gross images follow:

“And so it piled up to the ceilings:

Coffee grounds, potato peelings,

Brown bananas, rotten peas,

Chunks of sour cottage cheese…

…With bacon rinds and chicken bones,

Drippy ends of ice cream cones,

Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel,

Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal,

Pizza crusts and withered greens,

Soggy beans and tangerines,

Crusts of black burned buttered toast,

Gristly bits of beefy roasts…

This poem is as much fun for Mom or Grandma to read as it is for Sally and Noah to hear and imagine.  It is a smile bringer when little Joe or Carole do not want to fulfill their daily chore of taking the garbage bag to the trash can in the garage or to the dumpster. After hearing the poem, they will be in a better mood, laugh, and “get it over with.”

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Author: Rae Longest

This year, I will have been a member of AAUW (American Association of University Women) for fifty years, a life time member (which means my fellow AAUW members will begin to pay my annual dues. (ha ha) 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 and went on from there (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 27th 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.

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