Thursday, January 16, 2020

Science Kick Poems

Poet Friends,

Hooray for time to read poems, hear poems and maybe even do some scribbling of poems. Thank you, Catherine at Reading to the Core for hosting today's round-up.

I've been on a science kick this school year. A teacher I work with said about a particular topic coming up in 6th grade, "It's such a good opportunity to talk with kids about life." I like that...I think I'm adopting that as my reason.

At any rate, I've been eyeing the National Geographic Education certification course and poking around their blog. I came across this photo and recognized a word that young learners I know struggle to grasp the full meaning of:

Pryzborski, Paul. “The Chesapeake Watershed.” NASA, NASA, 2015,

This article from National Geographic Education came across my twitter feed in the past week--ah ha! Something to write about. 


I read the article and found lines that fit the 5-7-5 model that was used to teach children haiku centuries ago. Here's a page of my notebook where I listed them:

my notebook, Linda Mitchell
Words found and arranged by Linda 

Looking for syllable counts and arranging lines was a good way for careful reading...but the poetry isn't quite "pretty" enough for me yet. That word precipitation, even though I spaced it out by syllable is too utilitarian for me. Hmmmm.

Then, I thought a definito poem form, invented by Heidi Mordhorst, could really help kids understand what a watershed is. Here's the definito too.


Like snake shed skin
left behind for us to find on the ground
land sheds water
from high to low
vapor to cloud
to rain to falling and--
collecting in serpent shaped streams
joining rivers seeking
the ocean again.
This water covered land
we all must protect is a watershed.

(c) Linda Mitchell

Have a great Poetry Friday and weekend. I will take time to reflect on Dr. King and the journey we are on to his dreams. I feel that there are miles to go. I'm thankful for his leadership.


  1. Linda, keep on working in your notebook and finding great combinations to form more haikus. The one you share is set against dreamy scenery. In the second poem, the last light is a call to action. There is a lot of focus on climate change and the earth lately. We all must keep our thoughts on our environment.

  2. I like them both, Linda - and I think different children will connect to each one. I do like the call to action though !

  3. Brilliant use of Heidi's (brilliant) definito! And on a climate issue, too, which of course is one of Heidi's passions... this just feels right right right. And I have to say: I love how you gather bits here and there to enhance your teaching. Lucky lucky kids to have you guiding them. Thank you! xo

  4. Love the process that you share, Linda, and both show how those watersheds work. When I studied them with students, we crumpled pieces of paper (with a peak at the top) then followed the lines formed. It was fun to watch water trickle down (sprayed with a water bottle).

  5. What a helpful--and entertaining--way to introduce language to students! I love that you used found phrases for the haiku, and I enjoyed the alliteration in your definito poem.

  6. Hey Linda: I like both poems also. I especially like your sharing of process. I am reading a poet's notebook right now, to encourage that process, so you are helping to nudge me forward! Thanks for this post!

  7. I love how you weave together what you are learning with what you are writing. I'm just imagining all the possibilities these open up for students to learn and share. I like both your poems, especially the call to action

  8. Love the snake simile, and how your bring it back with the serpent-shaped streams. Great way to combine poetry and science with your kiddos!

  9. Both are lovely, Linda. I especially love the comparison to snakes and "collecting in serpent shaped streams."

  10. The National Geographic Education certification looks amazing...and tempting! If kids have never traveled, it's hard for them to conceptualize a watershed. Your poems do a good job helping them to understand!

  11. Yes, a definito! Great idea. Have you been to the National Geographic Museum in D.C.? I went a long time ago and can't remember it very well. (I answered the question you left on my blog. Hope it helps! xo)

  12. Oh my! I could see your definito in Sylvia and Janet's Poetry Friday collection of science-related poems. May I share this (with credit, of course) with our second grade team, who teach the water cycle? It's brilliant! -- Christie @

    1. Of course! I'm going to share it with my kiddos at school too.

  13. Well done, Linda! I love writing about science topics (and am seriously swooning over that image!), but wouldn't have thought about a definito. I also love the echo between the snake shedding its skin and the "serpent shaped streams."

  14. I agree with Sally–I like them both too, but ooo how I like the serpentine feeling and call for care in your definito, thanks!

  15. I enjoyed both your found haiku and your watershed poem. This is a topic that, while I understand the water cycle, is difficult for me to grasp as I pass by signs on the highway that say "entering XYZ watershed". Your poem "shed"a little light on the topic for me!

  16. Love the peek at your notebook page. And I've been looking at the water cycle through the eyes of three year old grandson. It's great fun! Your definito poem is perfect. Like so many others, I love the serpent imagery. It seemed odd to me at first, until I reached the phrase "land sheds water." And then those serpent shaped streams (love that alliteration). You rocked this science topic!


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!