Sidewalk Chalk: Poems of the City
by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Dimitrea Tokunbo. Boyds Mills Press, 2002
This poetry collection celebrates my childhood in Baltimore, Maryland. These poetry-related activities are inspired not only by nostalgia but also by lessons that teachers have tried.
Poem: “Sidewalk Chalk”
Hold a sidewalk chalk poetry fest. Invite children to play hopscotch, recite playground rhymes, draw chalk pictures and write poems on the sidewalk or on kraft paper that can be taped to the floor. The activities below continue the festive theme.
Poem: “One Red Cent”
On the pavement there’s a penny…
Challenge kids to guess how many pennies are in a big jar.
Hold a penny drive to buy books for needy children or to benefit a favorite charity.
Poem: “Cardboard Box”
Don’t throw that cardboard box away…
Give children a cardboard box to take home and turn into something fun. Hold a cardboard box festival. Let kids put their imaginations to work on cardboard boxes. Build structures with old shoeboxes. Station costumed students or teachers inside super-size boxes that have been transformed into story-themed storefronts, carnival booths and houses.
Poem: “Cool Pool”
Invite children to bring a beach towel to class. Seat children in a circle for a rhyme game. Give the children an ending sound (such as “at”). Toss the ball to a student, who will have to say a word with that ending. The student then tosses the ball to another student to say another word with that ending. The game continues with the same ending sound until a student is stumped. That child sits inside the circle. The teacher provides another ending sound. The last student stumped tosses the ball. The game continues until only one student remains outside the circle.
Poem: “Rubber Tire Garden”
Plant silk flowers indoors in an old rubber tire filled with styrofoam. Or plant a real rubber tire garden outside. Kids will enjoy watching it grow.
Poem: “Wash & Wax”
Organize a car wash for to benefit a favorite charity.
Poem: “Chocolate Buddies”
Have an ice cream sundae party. Enlist parents to provide ice cream and toppings. Solicit coupons from a local ice cream shop for reading incentives. Poll children about what flavor ice cream they like best. Post a chart on the wall and let kids use colored stickers representing vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
Invite a representative from the animal shelter or humane society to bring a pet needing adoption to class. Ask children to describe, draw, or bring in photos of, their pets. Have the children write an adopt-me letter (in first-person from the pet). Check pet rescue and humane society websites for examples.