Sharing Early Literacy Learning Journeys

Posts tagged ‘Mary O’Neill’

Words to inspire your early reader/writer…

Inspirational words to share with your early reader/writer extracted from Mary O’Neill’s poem: The Wonderful Words, mentioned in my previous blog, Snow Pellets and Raindrops…

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Snow Pellets and Raindrops: how words feed and groom our thoughts

“Snow pellets on my jacket are like raindrops on the roof,” I said to my husband.

Coral shovelling snow PM edit small
I had come inside after shovelling overnight snow off the driveway. But, the snow  falling this morning was different from any snow I’d seen before. The snow I knew was like big, soft flakes. This snow was like hard, tiny pellets.
“Snow pellets aren’t like raindrops,” he remarked with a grin.
“Okay. The sound of snow pellets on my jacket are like raindrops falling on the roof,” I replied.
“What if it’s a wool jacket?” he asked.

“You’re right. I can make it better. ‘The sound of small, snow pellets on my polyester jacket remind me of the raindrops falling on the tin roof when I was little.’

Or better still. ‘The sound of tiny, crusty snow pellets bouncing off the crisp, polyester shell of my jacket reminds me of the raindrops dancing on the tin roof when I was a little girl in the old mallee farmhouse.’ Yes that’s it, that will do.”

Our conversation continued…

“You know what this is like?” I realised, “It’s like talking about  being specific and adding details with my Year Ones when we are doing Shared Writing. I remember…”

Martha brought her toy bunny to school and wrote in her Journal: 
I have a bunny.
It is white.
It has a pink ribbon.

After our Shared Writing about ‘being specific’ and ‘adding details’ she said, “I could write like that about my bunny.”
“What do you mean Martha?”
“The details. I’ll do it and show you,” she said and went off to write in her Journal.
She shared her writing with the class. She read: “I have a soft, white, toy bunny. She has a bright, pink ribbon round her neck.”

But my favourite example of ‘adding detail’ was from Suzy. One day, completely out of the blue, she wrote in her Journal: “I brought my adventurous, big, brown bear and he got into lots of trouble…”. Sometimes it takes a while for new ideas to become a part of children’s thinking. And it’s a wonderful surprise when it all comes together.

But back to the snow pellets… “I think that crusty, pellet-type snow is called corn snow. It’s a term I haven’t heard for years,” he reminisced.

Corn snow on Boxwood PM edit small
Snow pellets/corn snow on Boxwood

Corn snow on Coral's wool hat PM edit small

Tiny snow pellets, or corn snow, on my wool hat

The more we talked, the more our words “handsomely groomed and fed” the thoughts in my head (O’Neill)…

“What’s also interesting is the contrast,” I mused. “The sound of raindrops dancing on the tin roof above my bedroom when I was a little girl put me to sleep, but here, the sound of the crusty, snow pellets bouncing on the crisp, polyester of the snow jacket wakens my senses. I stopped shovelling and put my arm out so I could see the snow pellets bouncing off the sleeve of my jacket and hear them pinging and singing as they bounced off my sleeve.”

The last four lines of Mary O’Neill’s (1966) delightful poem, ‘The Wonderful Words’, came to mind…

But only words can free a thought
From its prison behind your eyes.
Maybe your mind is holding now
A marvellous new surprise!

Come to think of it…

O’Neill’s words would make a great poster to inspire budding writers in the classroom!

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