I shared my collection of truck poems with my son’s second grade class this morning. I haven’t shared my writing with one of his classes since he was in kindergarten. I did it once that year and several times when he was in preschool. So for me, in my writer hat, this was quite a sophisticated audience. I spoke of my choices to write about certain trucks in certain ways, how I selected trucks to go with certain forms of poetry, and how I made the poems dynamic. Being familiar with seven- and eight-year olds’ attention spans, I found ways to involve the kids. They were engaged, and it was gratifying.
But the best part came after I was done speaking. Their wonderful teacher suggested we have the kids write their own poems. She and I came up with an activity on the fly. The kids would write poems about trucks. They would choose favorites or ones they found interesting. The poems could be long or short, rhyming or not. The kids added that they could write about made-up kinds of trucks. I was hopeful that a few kids might really get into it.
Oh, I was beyond pleasantly surprised. A few minutes later every single kid was going with those poems—some working in quiet focus, others bursting to share their ideas, two pairs collaborating. They were getting help with spelling, or not, and asking questions when they got stuck. I loved that three kids chose to write about garbage trucks (also called “garbig” trucks), as I’ve recently noticed that those trucks, which are so ripe for children’s poetry, are missing from my collection. There were poems about hippo trucks and bunny trucks, and a poem about a planting truck. There were rhymes and sound words and inspired repetition, also humor and contrasts and stories. When the writing time ended, maybe just fifteen minutes later, several kids had written two or three poems. At least one had reached the bottom of a page. Some had added elaborate illustrations.
The words that came to my mind were “unbridled creativity.” I am inspired.