“Spring has returned. The earth is like a child that knows poems. ”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
I plant a little seed in the dark, dark ground,
Out comes the yellow sun, big and round.
Down comes the cool rain soft and slow,
Up comes the little plant, grow, grow…grow!
This is a wonderful poem (author unknown) that I found in the book Music for Fun, Music for Learning by Lois Birkenshaw. This is such a simple poem and I love it for many reasons. It encourages children’s expressive language skills, it invites them to hear the music of words and it enables children to easily visualize what is being described in the poem. It also lends itself quite beautifully to learning experiences related to spring and planting. This poem can be introduced to children in ways that will support their interest in reading about weather, seasonal changes and plant life. A poem like this can build children’s language and literacy skills, provide them with information and build their curiosity about what is happening in their world as changes in nature occur in the spring. It can also help to reveal what children know already.
Some years ago I used this poem to develop a literacy activity for a course I was taking on the literature-based curriculum. I decided to create a series of picture cards including images that the poem suggested to me. I chose bright colours of construction paper and endeavoured to create big, bold appealing pictures to represent the words. I played with the text and with the fonts on my computer so that children would be as interested in reading the words on each card as they would be in looking at the pictures. For example, I bolded the word ‘dark’, enlarged the word ‘big’ and typed the word ‘down’ so it was descending! When I was finished, I laminated the cards so they would be more durable and last for quite a while. Though adult help may be required to create the text, children can certainly create their own artwork to illustrate the poem using techniques like painting or collage. Encourage children to talk about each line of the poem as they create their images. What do the words suggest to them?
This poem can also be transformed into a lovely music and movement activity. Creative movement is an excellent way to aid children in interpreting and remembering the words. Children can use their hands to pretend to plant seeds, for example poking the palm of one hand with a finger. They can raise up their arms to make the shape of a round sun, and then wiggle their fingers from up in the air and down to the floor to imitate rain falling. On the last line of the poem they can stand up and become little plants growing. With each line of the poem, children use both small and large muscles to physically represent their understanding of the poem. I was so pleased to discover the number of ways that such a simple rhyme could enrich children’s learning in the areas of language and literacy, science and nature, and creative movement.
I hope this is a spring poem that you will enjoy at home with your child, or in your classroom.