We are in the middle of one of my favorite reading units in kindergarten – poetry! This unit was actually removed from our mandatory curriculum, but I still spend a few weeks on it with my kids because I love it so much! (And so do they.)
We have been discussing and exploring how poems have a special “look,” or shape. We began by just looking at how poems look, noticing the many different ways they are set up. We then spent a day looking specifically at shape poems, where the words are actually forming pictures themselves.
Today we looked at the shape of poems in a different way – using word clouds. I began by introducing my kids to tagxedo.com, a great site (which is free for the time being at least) that allows you to quickly and easily create your own word cloud.
In the Create section of the program there is an option to Load. If you click on this, you can either enter a website that you want the program to “grab” words from, or you can type in your own. We opted to type in our own. We started by creating a few clouds together. I showed them a “kindergarten” word cloud that I made by simply typing “kindergarten playground learning fun teacher friends school reading writing” into the load box. We then played around with changing the theme and color, which you can also do by using the options on the left hand side of the main screen. The kids LOVED changing the shape!
We then created one cloud together all about dinosaurs. I had the kids tell me different words that reminded them of dinosaurs, and I typed them in. We changed the shape to dinosaur, and there it was!
After that I put my kids into teams. I gave each team a piece of paper and a topic. I asked them to write down ten words that they think of related to their topic. I used fairly broad, familiar topics for them: dogs, swimming, hockey, soccer, and garden.
Once the kids had their lists, we turned their lists into word clouds! I typed the words into tagxedo, and then the kids played around with colors and themes. We did this all on my SMARTboard, so everyone was involved in building all of the poems.
It is also very easy to save the images that you create. I saved each cloud that we created and printed copies so that I can compile class books and student copies of their work.
I also decided to input each student poem two ways. First I typed it in exactly as they wrote it, with invented spelling. I wanted to value their writing and their authorship of the poem. I then kept the same settings, but corrected all the spelling. That way they could see their word clouds, as well as how those word clouds would look if they were in books.
Here is a “kid spelling” version:
And here is the corrected spelling version:
Here you can see the progression from list to finished cloud:
I have no affiliation with tagxedo.com – I just really love how it helped me to take our study of poems, shape poems, and writing poetry one step farther!
How do you help young readers and writers explore poetry?