I hope you're celebrating National Poetry Month. We've been completely immersed in poems. Today we watched these two videos of poems.
I hesitated to show The Owl and the Pussycat because I was a little worried about how the kids would react to the word "pussy." I decided to share it. It was voted the most popular childhood poem in Britain last year! Recently I read Why Kids Think the Word "Gay" is a Swear Word, and it got me thinking about words. Well, the kids did react to the word. A few told me there was a bad word in it. Some looked uncomfortable, so we had a very grown up conversation.
I was very blunt with my class. I explained that I could tell many of them were uncomfortable with some of the words in the poem because they had heard the word, "pussy," used in a hurtful way in the past.
I told them I could tell some of them were uncomfortable because they had heard the word being used to hurt people, but this poet was not intending to hurt anyone. I compared it to a pat on the back vs. a hit. A pat on the back is really a light hit on the back, but it's used in a helpful way, not in a hurtful way. If the person speaking or acting is not trying to hurt anyone on the inside or on the outside, it is ok to use most words. I think kids need to be taught that a word is not a "bad" word because some people use it in a bad way.
Hopefully the message got through and I don't get any angry phone calls tomorrow!
I'm looking for more poetry videos to add to my playlist. Let me know if you find a good one!
If you're interested in how I teach my first graders to write poetry, please follow my blog. It's my favorite writing skill to teach, and I'm excited to tell you about what we're doing!
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