Chalk Moon

Who made the moon?
Who scribbled it with chalk
on the blackboard sky?
Who blew the dust away
and filled the dark with stars?

It’s the last day of the month, so it must be time for a Chalk-a-bration! This is Betsy Hubbard’s brilliant way to combine fun with chalk and fun with poetry. She does it with her kindergarten class and invites anyone and everyone to join in the celebration. My poem today is completely inspired by her recent classroom activities which she describes on her blog Teaching Young Writers. Starting with “Tonight” a sweet poem by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Betsy’s students have been chalking moons and stars and writing about the moon. You can see where the idea for my poem came from. Thanks to Betsy and her class for sharing the fun and inspiration!

School’s out. The kids are home. We’ve been to visit family and had family visit us. We’ve been swimming, eating popsicles, and watching the World Cup. I haven’t had a second of time or attention to write but we’ve all been making progress on our summer reading. I wanted to share two of my early favorites: Laura Purdie Salas’ Water Can Be… and Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover.











In a way Water Can Be… is exactly what it sounds like, a list of many forms and functions of water. But to think of it that way is to miss it’s charm which is its creativity. Laura has been incredibly creative in her thinking about all the things water can do; she’s been equally creative with her rhymes. For example, she writes, “Water can be  a..Tadpole hatcher…Picture catcher…” If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend it.














I also recommend The Crossover,  Kwame Alexander’s novel in verse for kids 9-12. This isn’t a book about basketball. It’s a book about a boy who plays basketball whose life is getting complicated by his twin brother’s new girlfriend, his father’s health, and his own reactions to these challenges. I love all the complicated characters. I especially love the boys’ mom who is the assistant principal at school and does her best to give the boys guidance and limits. The collection even includes poems about interesting words like pulchritudinous and churlish. I recommended this book to a 12 year old boy who loved it. I hear from his parents that it’s now making the rounds among his friends.

I hope you’re all enjoying your summer activities. How’s your summer reading going?

For more Poetry Friday, visit Buffy’s Blog.




Have you seen John Green and Sarah Urist Green’s new video series The Art Assignment? During each episode Sarah interviews a working artist (or two). Sarah and John discuss the art and its precedents. Then the artist provides an assignment for anyone who’s interested. Here’s my response to the third assignment: The Intimate, Indispensable GIF. Despite Toyin Odutola‘s claims that a lazy 5 year-old could do the assignment, it took me three days and lots of help from my indispensable daughter.
















My inability to use photoshop was frustrating but it was fun to work together and try something new.


© Elizabeth Steinglass, 2014, all rights reserved











I fold,
I flip,
I bend
my brain.

I hatch
a paper


I wrote this yesterday in response to Laura Salas’ 15-words-or-less poetry prompt. She posted a photo of a beautiful light in the shape of a star. There was no bird, paper, or folding, though the light looked a bit like it could have been folded. That’s what set my mind going where it found an origami crane. Thanks Laura for inspiring us each week.

I’m still working on a title. I don’t want to give anything away… Ideas?

For more Poetry Friday, visit Buffy!

© Elizabeth Steinglass, 2013, all rights reserved












I want to share my current favorite poem with you. It’s “Introduction to Poetry” by Billy Collins. I’m sure it will be familiar to many of you, but I enjoy reading it over and over again. I hope you will too.


Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.


The rest of the poem tells what actually happens. It isn’t pretty. Here’s the link to the whole poem where you can read the end.

As a former high school English teacher and the mother of a high school English student, this poem really speaks to me. The question that I return to again and again is how do we teach our students to read poetry “like a color slide” or to “walk inside the poem’s room?” How do we avoid teaching them to torture it? I hear so many kids say they don’t like poetry and I think what they mean is I don’t like the grisly effects of beating a poem to death.

For more Poetry Friday, visit Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference.

Small white kitten

In tall dry grass
Staring ahead
With sea blue eyes
I stare back
Wondering why
You lie so still
Until I realize
I step away
But I can’t stop
Seeing your eyes
Staring, still

© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

What if we rose with the sun and sang each morning,
Sticking our heads through windows or chasing after

Creeks in our nightclothes? What if we rummaged
For our breakfasts under layers of decay? What if

We turned our faces to the sun? What if we ate
Sunlight and drank rainwater? What if our bodies grew

Down into the earth, clutching the soil in our twining toes,
Binding us to one place? What if we lived centuries,

Each year stretching the miles of lives
Underneath our canopy? What if we lived silently?

What if we bloomed pink and purple, yellow or orange
When we got what we needed? What if we

Passed winter curled underground with our families
And our stores of fat and food? What if we scurried

Through life on an endless quest for berries,
Mushrooms, and grubs? What if we were the grubs?

© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

Last Friday Ruth at There Is No Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town shared Mary Oliver’s poem How Would You Live Then? I was so taken by the form of the poem with its repeating “what if” questions I wanted to give it a try. As you can see my questions took me in a different direction.

For more Poetry Friday, go to A Teaching Life.

For Sale, Fixer-Upper by Orin Zebest at flickr

I wear this house
Like my favorite t-shirt,
The one you dig through the drawer for,
The one gone soft with wearings and washings,
The one you long to put on
On Saturdays
When you just want to be
It used to be my favorite color blue,
Like the ocean in the sun at noon.
It’s faded now,
Ragged around the collar,
Dribbled with little kid ice creams and
Either it’s shrunk or I’ve grown
Because it feels tight when I stretch.
But I don’t care
Because this t-shirt is my home.
How can you ask me
To give it up
And find another?

© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

Pie by RachelEllen at flickr

What if our colossal sun,
which every single thing goes ’round,
all the planets,
all the trees,
all the you’s,
all the me’s,
was nothing
but the glimmer of pie
in some mischievous
fairy’s eye.

© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

photo by Howzey

Cool me.
Soothe me.
Paint me blue and lose me.
Hold me.
Enclose me.
Show me how to flow.
My crashing,
Into splashing,
Collapse in waves
Of laughing.
When I’ve gone,
Sit still.

© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved