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James Whitcomb Riley
James Whitcomb Riley was known as “The Hoosier Poet” as well as “The Children’s Poet.” He wrote many poems that celebrate the natural world as he experienced it throughout his life in Indiana.
The purpose of this lesson plan is to read Riley’s poetry pertaining to nature and relate it to personal experiences that students have had growing up in Indiana.
1) To explore natural life in Indiana, as compared to the rest
of the United States and the world.
2) To write original poetry and prose regarding similar personal experiences with nature.
3) To explore different types of poetry.
This is intended to be a five-day lesson plan that helps students explore personal feelings and experiences with nature, as well as explore different types of poetry.
Read “Autumn,” “A Hint of Spring,” and “A Summer Afternoon.”
Activity #1: Students will write rhymed stanza poetry relating things they have experienced with the season of their choice. Students may write about things they have seen in a season or how a certain season makes them feel about nature.
Discuss with the students the cycle of the seasons in Indiana and the extremes that are experienced. Compare our cycle of seasons with the seasons in other regions of the United States and the world.
Read “The Frog” and “The Katydid.”
Activity #2: Students will write an original limerick about species they have experienced in nature, such as amphibians and insects.
Discuss with the students the specific amphibians and insects that are found in Indiana.
Activity #3: Mini-research project—Have each student in the class choose a different state and research the different types of amphibians and insects found there. Each student will present their findings to the class. As a group, compare and contrast the types of amphibians and insects found in other states.
Read “The Rose” and “The Clover.”
Activity #4: Students will write an original haiku about the different types of plants they have seen in nature, such as shrubs and trees.
Discuss with the students the different types of plant life found in Indiana. Compare and contrast these types of plants with plants found in other parts of the United States and the world.
Read “The Jaybird,” “The First Bluebird,” and “The Yellowbird.”
Activity #5: Students will write an original free verse poem about what they have seen and experienced with birds in nature. For example, they can write about the state bird, the cardinal.
Discuss the different types of birds that are most commonly found in Indiana.
Activity #5: Take students on a hike in a local forest or park
to get more firsthand experience with nature. Once the students
are back in the classroom, have the students work collaboratively
on a mural, making sure they include the amphibians, insects, plants,
and birds that they’ve written about and discussed in class.