Interactive Activites

5 Silverstein- Inspired Classroom Activities!

1) Make a "Giving Tree"

This activity will get students thinking about a time that they received something special to them. 

Step 1: Construct a "Giving Tree" in your classroom! Use carpenter paper, scrapbook materials, paint or anything you want, and hang your tree anywhere from the door to the whiteboard! Be sure to exclude the leaves when hanging it up, and instead set aside a leaf for each student. (You can create the "Giving Tree" with the students, or have it there to surprise them when they walk in Monday morning!)

Step 2: Ask students to think of something special to them that they were given (this could be before or after reading Shel Silverstein's book "The Giving Tree") and have them write that special thing down on a leaf. You could then have them hang up their own leaves on the tree, or you could add them on later.

Step 3: Enjoy your decorative and thoughtful collage as you continue teaching your Silverstein unit!

2) Illustrate for a Silverstein Poem

This activity encourages students to interpret some of Silverstein's unillustrated poems, and learn how to mimic some of Silverstein's artistic techniques. 

As an author, poet and illustrator, Shel Silverstein adapted a unique and surreal style when drawing pictures for his writings. His drawings are known for: being in black and white, incorporating stippling and oftentimes uneven/ sloppy lines. Although he drew pictures for a lot of his productions, he left a few poems unillustrated. 

Step 1: Have students point out some of Silverstein's signature techniques he uses in his drawings. Give them time to practice a few of them on a piece of scratch paper. 

Step 2: Split students into groups of 3 or 4. Assign each group a different Shel Silverstein poem that was published without illustrations (such as the one above), and provide the groups with one piece of white construction paper, and a thin-tip sharpie. 

Step 3: Have each group decide who they believe to be the best artist (this can be more than one person within the group) judging by their scratch paper from step 1. 

Step 4: Next, have the group collaborate together on how they want their picture to turn out, using ideas from Silverstein's artwork. The artist will first sketch it out lightly in pencil, then go over the piece in sharpie, erasing any left over pencil marks. 

Step 5: Have students present their poems and pictures to the class, and hang the finished illustrations up for all to see! 

3) Living Clothes Poem

This activity will help students build awareness about adjectives and poetry formats. 

Step 1: Hang up a large printed copy of Shel Silverstein's poem "Dancing Pants". Read it aloud as a class, and discuss the different adjectives that are in the poem. Then discuss the words that have to do with "Pants" in particular. 

Step 2: Talk about what other items of clothing may do (for example: the "Thinking Hat" or "Shrugging Shirt"). Begin an interactive writing exercise where students help to come up with new adjectives to describe the item of clothing that's been chosen to write about. Then have students explain words they could replace to work well with the new item of clothing that rhyme (such as "seat"/ "pleat" to "hair"/ "flair"). Be sure to write down all the new words that the class comes up with. 

Step 3: Replace the words- format your poem to look the same as Silverstein's, writing it down on a large piece of paper, and hanging it next to "Dancing Pants" for students to compare the two poems. 

4) Drawing a Geometric Picture of Shapes
Students will visualize a story from a poetic format, and illustrate it using geometric shapes

Step 1: Hang up Shel Silverstein's Poem: Shapes (above) and pass out cut outs of one square, one rectangle, one triangle and one circle to each student. (Or, if older, have them draw the shapes themselves)

Step 2: Read the poem aloud as a class, and have students place their shapes in a way that demonstrates what happens in the poem using all shapes. 

Step 3: If needed, glue the shapes on a piece of paper, and hang them next to the poem for all to see!

5) What is your "Dreamplace"?

In this activity, students will think about a perfect place or a "dreamplace" for them to do something they love doing, and then write a short  poem and draw a picture of it.

Step 1: Introduce Shel Silverstein's poem: Poet's Tree above. Discuss rhyme patterns and word choice. Then discuss the mood of the poem, and the content. "Why would Silverstein write about a tree for poets?" Eventually discussing that this was a special or "dream" place for Silverstein because poetry is what he loved to do. 

Step 2: Have students brainstorm what their special or "dream" place is. "What do you love to do?" "Where is the best place to do it?" "Have you been there? Is it made up? Do you plan to go there?"

Step 3: Have students create their own short poem with rhyme schemes and great word choice about their "special" place. 

Step 4: Allow students to pair up and proof- read the poems, checking each other's pieces for: rhyme schemes, word choice, and rhythm. 

Step 5: Have students type up their poems and illustrate them. Collect all poems to copy and bind together for a classroom book! 

1 comment:

  1. This is such an amazing site. I can't wait to do these activities with my students. I hope that this will be a "living" blog, with additions along the way. You are talented.