Scraps are often discarded by tailors, cooks, and writers– but sometimes they are transformed by possibility. An unused basil leaf from tonight’s dinner can add flavor to tomorrow’s scrambled eggs; left over pieces of velveteen from a costume can add texture to a pillow; and the tiniest scrap of memory can be expanded into a personal story.
This week we will read The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Pollaco. She transforms scraps of fabric into memoir as she shows how her family turned the same scraps into a quilt that has been the backdrop of tradition in her family. Perhaps there is a scrap of fabric at your house that holds a story for you to tell.
Last week we decorated our writer’s notebooks. Some people might look at the covers and see scraps. We saw collage! Quilts and Collage provide the perfect metaphor for writing; they demonstrate composition in its most basic form. I loved watching children place and reposition “scraps” until they were just right. They are learning that writers do the same thing with memories, words, and ideas.
Do you ever come across a piece of poetry—a line or rhyme that you learned long ago and seems to bubble out of nowhere? This will happen to our students more and more as they learn to recite poetry this year. No one is ever forced to memorize or recite a poem, but it is amazing how many children choose to do it. Bits and pieces of poetry will be incorporated into a collage for the second notebook later in the year.
This week we will learn our first poem: Autumn by Emily Dickinson. I memorized it long ago, and I’m never surprised when a line surfaces in my mind at this time of year. I walked though the woods this weekend and couldn’t help but notice:
The morns are meeker than they were
The nuts are getting brown,
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town…
Emily Dickinson is a good place to start. She wrote the words that best name my experience as a teacher: “I dwell in possibility.”