I know, I know, it’s September, we should be discussing fall titles, but here in Michigan it’s a glorious sunny day, perfect for Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word written by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Nancy Doniger. Using only the letters from a single word, Bob Raczka makes short, sweet poems. (In the book, Raczka and Doniger show the long word, the letters falling, and how the letters rearrange to make new words, but for the sake of brevity I’m tightening the line spaces here. Use your imagination.)
Spaghetti: papa has a pasta appetite he eats heaps
Earthworms: a short storm worms here worms there wear shoes
Share this book with your students and you’ll squeeze in three of your Common Core State Standards for reading: Range of Reading (because you’re sharing poetry), Print Concepts (recognizing all the letters of the alphabet, understanding how letters form words), and Fluency (these simple poems will be read and reread easily). To show how Raczka squeezed poems from words, write one of the words he chose on a large whiteboard. Use magnetic letters to spell the word again below your written word, and then begin rearranging those letters. Encourage your students to call out words they could make, or let them come up and arrange the letters themselves to make new words. Keep a running list on your white board of the words you formed. Now, can your class make a sentence using just those words, or a poem?
Students can use this as a writing prompt in a high-tech or low-tech way. In a large font, you can print off words for students to cut apart into letters they can manipulate, perhaps their names, vocabulary from a science or social studies unit, etc. and see if students can form words, sentences and poems. If you have access to iPads, you can download the Magnetic ABC iPad app (free for all capital letters, $1.99 for lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols). I like this app better than using real magnet letters because you always have as many of each letter as you need, and none of them get lost under the refrigerator or shelves. On the iPad, students can arrange the letters to make words as well, keeping a list of words they’ve made on Notepad ( a free app that comes on the iPad) and using that list to write poems.
Any time of the year, Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word invites readers in for a refreshing sip of poetry.