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Younger Readers: Poems for Fun
Younger Readers: Poems about Growing Up DISCUSSION GUIDE
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  The discussion guide below is divided into two parts: (1) IMITATION and (2) DISCUSSION exercises. Teachers can use the imitation exercises to encourage students to write their own poems or stories. The discussion exercises are intended to spark students to think about applying the ideas in the poems to their own lives. i
  30. Halloween Madness The Sun Is On  
Ask students to make lists of what qualities they might have that might make people assign them into a stereotype. (We can think of a stereotype as an imagined picture that judges a person’s essential qualities, based on superficial qualities. Stereotypes are often, but not always, negative.) These qualities can include aspects like physical characteristics, speech, or taste (“Oh, she hates peanut butter. All people who hate peanut butter are …”).

After they’ve made that list, ask students to make a list of all the things that make each of them unique. These can — and very likely will — include qualities from the first list. Students should be told they can put at least some of the same qualities on both lists.

We can suggest at least two areas for discussion of this poem.
(1) The poem discusses how certain nouns trigger stereotypical ideas. You may want to solicit (or produce) a series of personal nouns and pronouns, which will produce, stereotyped descriptions. What unique qualities do the figures named by these nouns and pronouns possess?
(2) The poem also discusses how people who want to gain respect from some authority can use protests and strikes to get that authority to notice the protesters’ unique needs. Do students know anyone (family members or family friends) who has been involved in protests or strikes? What unique needs were involved? You can also use examples to explain this concept in history, especially during periods around national holidays, such as Presidents Day and the Martin Luther King, Jr., birthday holiday.

  32. Homesick The Sun Is On  
Ask students to write about their own nostalgia. (They could be nostalgic for any place, from a former home to a former homeroom.) Ask them to write about the place they left in terms of the place to which they arrived. For example: “This new homeroom’s windows looked out on the playground.” (What was so good about that?) My last homeroom looked out on the street.” (Why is that so bad? Or is it better?)

You can discuss how to put nostalgia to productive and positive uses. Instead of feeling bad about the place we’re nostalgic for, we can use those qualities we liked about the old place to help us to better enjoy and appreciate our lives today. Using the imitation exercise as a model, students can discuss how the speaker in the poem Homesick can find joy in his new home.

  44. It Hurts The Sun Is On  
Students can come up with their own examples of household items that fit the theme of "well done." Perhaps they can bring such items to class for a show-and-tell session. Then they could write a story or poem that describes the item’s "work."

Discuss what it means to be hard working, worn, partially neglected for a job well-done. Perhaps students know someone who is like the toothbrush and can tell a story of such a person. Alternately, the teacher can tell stories of people who are like the toothbrushes in the poem. What does the poem suggest should be done with the toothbrush? How can you use that message with the people in the discussion?