FAMILY POETRY NIGHT

Jennifer Hauck and Merri Jones wrote to us about their extremely successful poetry night event at the Frank Sokolowski School in the low-income, ethnically diverse town of Chelsea, MA:

The station-centered model of our poetry event came out of our school's consistently successful Science Family Fun Night. In place of the usual science experiments, we substituted stations where families could read poems and then participate in accompanying activities. The stations were centered around the following themes: writing your own poetry; mathematics; science; physical education; art; and music. Within each station there were three different poems and three activities. Each poem/activity was manned by a staff volunteer. For example, one teacher at the science station read a poem about plants with the families then helped the children to plant seeds in small cups. Another activity at the physical education station involved students jumping rope while reading jump-rope rhymes posted on large charts. Children were given personal copies of the poems at all of the stations. Our goal was to introduce a wide variety of poems while providing an atmosphere where creativity and physical activity were encouraged.

The evening began with a welcome by the school principal and a favorite poem reading by several community members. The families then began visiting the six poetry stations. Schedules with staggered starting points were given to each family to aide in traffic flow and each child was given a folder in which to keep collected poems. We received very positive feedback from the approximately 300 people who attended the Sokolowski School's first Family Poetry Night and another is planned for the 2002-2003 school year.