Have you ever read Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli? It’s an interesting book that has an interesting look at race relations in a town. Maniac is unlike most people. He is a loner. Not too anxious to live anywhere for too long. He loves to run, to hear the flap of his shoes on the pavement. Anyway, one of my favorite chapters to use for poem writing inspiration is chapter 14. Maniac has been living with the Beales for a little while and pauses in this chapter to share what he loves about this family. He describes his early morning runs and the sound of pancakes on the griddle when he returns. He describes the singing at church and how he gets caught up in it. In other words, he describes the meaningful moments using his senses.
After I read aloud this chapter, I give the students a sheet for brainstorming some of the smells, sounds, and events that make their own home experience special to them. Once the students have had a chance to brainstorm some of those sights, events, sounds, and smells that feel like home, I ask them to look over their list. Which things would they like to include in a poem that reflect what home is like for them? Sometimes the students saw a theme in their list and sought to develop that theme in their poem. A few this year chose to focus on their pet who waits for them at home.
Like I said, this chapter is the inspiration for the writing and the student is encouraged to take that inspiration in any direction that makes sense to them. Some have home situations that are difficult to find comfort in. But they each have something, pet or person, who makes them feel at home.
Here are some examples of what they wrote.
Everyday I wake up to the smell of bacon.
The aroma just drags me into the kitchen.
It makes me feel excited
and ready for the day.
But after a hard day,
I go into the woods.
The woods is my happy place.
It’s where all my feelings and emotions
just drift away.
The woods is where
I drift away.
It’s my happy place.
My dog barks. I go and pet her.
My turtle’s hungry. I go and feed her.
When I’m at home, it’s quiet.
When I’m at school, it’s noisy.
I know I’m at home when I’m safe in bed.
I know I’m at home when I’m reading in my head.
I know I’m at home when the things I love are there.
I know I’m at home when there are knots in my hair.
I’m at home, and everything I need is there.
My dog makes me happy.
Every time I come home,
he comes and gives me kisses.
When I sit down on the couch,
he jumps on me and lays on my lap.
Then he falls asleep.
But any little knock,
my dog will go crazy!
Snow falls gently on the ground.
The voices of carolers walking
to my door dance in the wind.
Smells of pine and candles fill the room.
The sounds of my family’s laughter and Christmas songs
bring joy to everyone.
Gifts wrapped carefully with shiny wrapping paper
and tied off with silky ribbons
lay tucked under the tree.
My big family is all together.
I sit and I wait.
for one special man.
So many things tempt,
but I wait.
The dripping water faucet,
the smell of dinner,
clocks ticking and
time going by,
but I wait.
I hear the garage,
and I run to the door.
It flies open,
and I know he’s home.
I’ve been waiting,
and I know he knows it, too.
I tell him about my day,
and he tells me of his.
I’m happy when he’s with me.
That’s why he’s worth the wait.
Bubba spends his time at home,
sleeping and sitting on his chair,
But when I come home,
Bubba races to the door.
I can hear his paws running across the tile.
His barking greets me.
He puts his paws on my legs
and barks with excitement.
Now everyone is happy.
The smell of my cat’s puke.
The sound of my cat
The sound of my sister
whining about stupid things.
The warmth of my family enjoying a
wonderful Christmas together!
When I wake up, I love to open my door and see
Christmas presents and our Christmas tree.
My dad makes amazing eggs and bacon, and
we enjoy that wonderful breakfast at our kitchen table.
I love to hear my family talking and sharing
what we got for Christmas with each other.
The “I love you” means a lot to me.
The smell of our air diffuser that sits on our little table,
and the smell of our wonderful smelling Christmas candles
make me smile.
The feel of my comfortable blanket
that sits on top of me,
and the feeling of the warm fireplace
makes me feel so snug.
The love of being with a wonderful family!
When I wake up
I smell bacon sizzling
and bread toasting.
Breakfast is coming.
My dog will be barking to come inside.
I will doodle in my notebook.
I’m still in my cozy p-jays and under a fuzzy blanket.
My dog is curled beside me.
Time to eat breakfast!
My brother will be driving his snowmobile
on a blanket of snow glittering bright under the sun.
My mom will light my favorite candle.
I will feel the warmth of my dog.
I will enjoy this Saturday morning.
Water splashing in my fish tank
Stinky fish food
Pizza boxes everywhere
when my mom is not home
Bumpy walls help scratch my back
Apple cinnamon scent
that makes me feel at home.
Home is where my dad
makes rad brownies.
Where my family’s jokes
crack me up
Where me and my family
decorate the Christmas tree
Where the Christmas tree lights
brighten up the night
and the presents reflect all the lights
Home is where my heart is.