Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Our Wonderful World.1

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.



in the desert
is as vast as the sky
expanding across blue distance.
Ancient as sand, changeless and thirsty,
time waits, encased in a monumental tomb of stone.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

Stacking stones
all day and all night.
Just to make a pyramid
to store dead people.
This is all for naught.

But the Pharaoh wants it,
so he gets it.

©VS, 2014

This year, because April 1 is on a Tuesday, I am including my students in my writing process for this first week. Yesterday we looked at this picture of The Great Pyramid of Giza and did a two-column brainstorming activity with DENOTATION on the left and CONNOTATION on the right. Denotation is where we listed the exactly what we could see in the picture, or facts we gathered from further research. Connotation is where we listed what those facts made us think about, or feel. My denotations were big, old, triangle, sand, desert, brown. My connotations were important, valuable, knowledgeable, solid, balanced, sturdy, strong, classic, time, change, changelessness, vast, empty, silent, dry, hot, thirsty. You can see which ones made it into my poem!

It was fascinating to watch the students' writing move immediately in unique directions based on their own connotations. After 5 minutes of my own writing, I circled the room and found another pyramid-shaped poem, two acrostics (mummy and pyramid), three different voices (a slave, the pyramid, and a conversation between the pyramid and a visitor), and poems about the sand, grave robbers, and oldness. I hope a couple of them will allow me to post their poems here later today!

And (drumroll...) I am cross-posting my Poetry Month posts on my spankin' new poetry website!

Jama has a list of the Poetry Month projects around the Kidlitosphere at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Yours isn't there? Let her know!

Carol's pyramid poem is at Carol's Corner; Kevin's is at Kevin's Meandering Mind.


  1. Very cool - I love the division of ideas first, and then the interplay. Totally "stealing" this idea, Mary Lee!
    PS - Love the website, too - I seem to have missed so much during the March SOL challenge.

  2. I love this Denotation/Connotation exercise! (Note: have you read Laura Purdie Salas's Giza pyramid poem in The PFA for Science? Your students will like it!)

  3. I agree with Tara and Janet - I love the denotation/connotation activity. I love this line from your poem: "Ancient as sand, changeless and thirsty..." I will be checking out your new website!

  4. Thanks for sharing the 'how' Mary Lee. When I see the pyramids I always think of the people/slaves who toiled in the building of it, hard to imagine that they accomplished this amazing thing. Will go check your new poetry site!

  5. I'm so excited you share your learning with your students. This has always been a difficult lesson for me to teach. Like Tara, I am borrowing everything.

  6. Anonymous1:46 PM

    This is terrific, Mary Lee! I love "as vast as the blue sky." I'm heading to your new website now!

  7. OK, I gave it a shot…

    “How to Build a Pyramid”

    So you wish

    to link heaven and earth?

    First you will need workers,

    about one hundred thousand

    no, not slaves,

    instead use farmers

    from the Nile floodplain

    the great river

    spills its banks

    from July to October

    and the farmers will be glad

    to set stone

    in exchange

    for sustenance

    And then you will need stone

    two million

    limestone blocks

    Five thousand pounds each

    extracted from quarries

    floated across rivers

    dragged over deserts

    slid on sledges

    up slippery

    clay-coated ramps

    one stone

    set in place

    every two minutes

    for ten or twenty years

    ‘til you have

    the world’s tallest structure

    surely high enough

    for the great Khufu

    to grab for a little favor

    from the gods on high?

    © Carol Wilcox, 2014

  8. P.S. Not sure why it did the weird spacing thing
    PPS I love the new website!!!

  9. I thought I left a comment here yesterday morning, but maybe it never "took."


    the world unfolding;

    overlapping architects

    weave ideas from strands of silk,

    composed of words, image, sound

    while designers of this flowing media fabric

    add unexpected edges and rich unknown colors

    which we work to wrap around ourselves

    sheltered in the experience of the past;

    overlapping dreamers in

    the world unfolding;


    But you are better off seeing the poem:



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