Visiting the gravesite of Robert Lee Frost!
One of the best parts of homeschooling is the gift of being able to take time to delve into the world of the arts. We typically choose an artist each month to study, although we take breaks when other projects consume our time and energy. We have danced beautifully through the worlds of van Gogh, Vermeer, and Monet, to name a few. This month Captain was drawn to poetry and we are focusing on the life and works of Robert Frost and are finding inspiration and a great love of the work so far!
Robert Frost is one of the most famous American poets, and very cool to learn about for kids! He first became interested in writing poetry when he was in high school and published his first professional poem when he was 20. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature four different times and his work has had an impact on people all over the world.
One of the reasons that his poetry is so popular is that he used a simple, descriptive language that people can easily remember and understand. Robert Frost is an excellent choice for introducing poets and their poetry to kids. Captain and I unexpectedly found ourselves back in the northeast for a few weeks and were fortunate enough to take a trip to Bennington Centre Cemetery in Old Bennington, Vermont to visit the gravesite of Robert Lee Frost and his family! We took photographs and used both crayons and oil pastels to make rubbings of the gravestone on large pieces of white paper. It was such a neat experience!
*On a side note, I think that making grave-rubbings at cemeteries in general is a wonderful idea for a variety of history projects. All you need are fat crayons with the paper peeled off, or oil pastels, large white “butcher” style paper. Lay the paper flat on the surface and rub away. They turn out beautifully!
Karen & Captain’s Robert Frost Poetry Project:
Step 1: Get your information together to talk about the famous American poet, Robert Lee Frost! I printed information from the following two links to use:
Ken Nesbitt’s Poetry 4 Kids
Wikipedia, Robert Frost
It helps to have a book of Frost’s poetry on hand, or go online, or print several to read.
Step 2: Read 1 or 2 poems out loud. Invite the kids to talk about them. Ask questions. This does not have to last long, or be an intense “learning moment”, just enjoy the sounds of the words and see what comes up naturally! I read Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening first and it had an amazing impact! I also recommend Nothing Gold Can Stay.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay.
Step 3: Read about the poet’s life. Have 4 or 5 facts that you can help the child remember by repeating the information. For example, after talking about Robert Frost’s life, I brought it up at dinnertime and retold the facts at the table, and Captain jumped in to add what she remembered. It works!
Step 4: Invite the child to write a poem of their own! You can encourage them to go outside for inspiration in nature, and (optional) you can offer to be their scribe so that they can let their words flow freely. Let them know before they begin that it is okay to just spew out any words or phrases because the poem can be edited later, or left exactly as it is. I like to explain that “editing” does not mean that the poem is “not right”, but that it is a little like doing a puzzle. Once you get the pieces down (the words or phrases), the poet can then rearrange, or change, their work a little bit later to make the words flow like feelings. If appropriate, encourage them to use adjectives, or “describing words” in their poem. For example, “a big tree” might become “a big, looming oak”. This is a lovely quote to share:
“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words” ~Robert Frost
Captain wrote a lovely poem titled Ripples in the Water. It is absolutely gorgeous and I am very proud of her!
Step 5: When the poem is completely finished, whether the same day or at a later session, the child writes the final draft in their own handwriting. A piece of white cardstock is nice if they would like to illustrate their work of poetic art. If they can type, it is nice to type it also, using a pretty font, and make copies to share with family and friends. Cool!
Step 6: An optional, but wonderful and empowering, practice is to memorize a Robert Frost poem to recite for family and friends. Siblings could share lines too. Captain fell in love with Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, and has been practicing reciting it all day today, to the tune of rain splattering on the roof.
Karen’s Artist-learning Tips when studying about any particular person, and their works, in the world of the arts:
1. In addition to learning the facts, take on an art project! When learning about Vermeer we did a project using oil pastels, baby oil and cotton swabs, for van Gogh we did a Sunflowers joint-compound, cardboard and acrylic project etc. If you need ideas or inspiration, check out Pinterest for kids projects and also one of my favorite sites: That Artist Woman.
2. Make some food or drinks related to the time period, or area, of the artist being studied: Think Monet= try some French cheese or Robert Frost= maple syrup popcorn!
3. Listen to music: If learning about a Russian artist, try some music of the area, or perhaps play a style of music that would have been popular when Leonardo da Vinci was roaming the hills of Italy…
There is so much more to learn over the month, but I wanted to share what has been successful, and inspiring, in our world of poetry. Thank you for reading and I wish you all a lovely autumn, filled with deep thought, golden falling leaves, and hope. Always hope.
Cheers! Karen and Captain
#kidspoetry #robertfrost #poetrylesson #straightupprojects