Fridays are Magical: First Grade Poetry Workshops

by: Heather Dorn

Fridays have been magical since I stopped working weekends. Something about those last few hours drowning in research before stepping off the cliff to endless weekend possibilities, or a good afternoon coffee, makes me giddy. But when I’m teaching 1st graders, Fridays become even more magical.


First graders are poets who haven’t unlearned how to be poets.


For the past month, instructors from the Binghamton Poetry Project have been running first grade poetry workshops at Charles F. Johnson Elementary and Johnson City Primary. Instructors Heather Humphrey, Tim Lavis, Assistant Director Clara Barnhart, and myself, Director Heather Dorn, visited the schools on Fridays to offer lessons about the sounds, shapes, and ideas that poems can have. Though we don’t stress terminology, we aimed to teach rhyme, alliteration, simile and concrete poems, while fostering a positive attitude toward poetry. The third year we have had these workshops, I continue to appreciate the imagination, intelligence, and humor that our children bring to their classrooms and world.


Like all poets, different people went in different directions with their prompts. Everyone has a voice and a unique story to tell.





This poet spoke of personal experience – anticipation for a party at her house with much food. Personal experiences are often the source of poems for both adults and children. But sometimes they are only a jumping off point.









This poet wrote about something that could happen, jumping on the trampoline with her sister. She tried rhyming “trampoline” with “believe” and “round” with “down.” Kids are good at playing – at trying things out – so they usually dive straight into the prompts.








For this prompt, the poet looked at how he was similar to Batman. My favorite part was how both he and Batman fight crime at night, while everyone is sleeping. That part made me feel safe. Binghamton is lucky to have first grade poets watching over the city.




Our first grade poets have an endless supply of creativity, energy, and love. I am always surprised by their endless love for everyone in their lives. In their poems they write about loving their parents, each other, their teacher. Even me. Some woman they met four weeks ago who tells them about poetry.




This poet wrote her last line over and over, “I Love Miss Heather,” and when she gave it to me, it was all I could do not to cry. Instead I asked, “May I take a picture?”


Because I love them all too. And Fridays are magical.



-Director Heather


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