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Learning Activity
A Message to Earth


Ecology Principle We All Belong to the Biosphere
art forms, media poetry
multi-disciplines language, art, social studies
suggested grade levels 2 thru 8
You will need: writing materials
time less than one hour

Overview

In this Learning Activity, students express their  personal relationships to Earth, as each feels them at the moment, by  writing a poem addressed to Earth, that is, in which the writer speaks directly to Nature, the Biosphere, the Living Earth.

Doing the Activity

Discussion How do you feel  toward Earth? How should you feel toward Earth? What do you have to say to Earth?

Perhaps there is no right or wrong way to feel toward  Earth. This writing activity is an oppportunity to explore  your feelings toward Earth. It is an opportunity to discover  some ways you feel toward Earth.

Remind students that we are all made of Earth, and we owe  Earth our bodies, and that all life on Earth belongs to one  enormous community, the Biosphere.

Also Remind students that Earth is not always beautiful  or perfect. Life on Earth is sometimes lovely but sometimes  cruel, sometimes full of joy but sometimes filled with pain.  We humans create plenty of problems for ourselves, of  course, but things like earthquakes, that are quite beyond  our influence, are hard for us to accept. Nature is not  Disney World. Roses on Earth have thorns.

Writing to Earth:

Like any poem, this writing should be as honest as you  can make it, otherwise there is little point.

Remember as you write that you are a part of Earth, and  that your atoms have always been part of Earth. Remember  that you are as splendid a being as any other in Life's  community.

This is an addressed poem, that is, a poem which is aimed  at one person or thing, like a personal letter. In an  addressed poem you are delivering a message to whomever it  is addressed. Sometimes people write letters which they  never send, sometimes because they know the person addressed  cannot receive it. Sometimes that sort of letter is mostly a  way for the writer to sort out his or her feelings and ideas, like an honest Santa letter when you were little and  truly believed. Whether you think Earth can 'hear' your poem  or not, write the poem as a way of discovering your own  feelings and ideas about Earth. Writing poems is often a  process of discovering your self.

For many writers, finding a pattern to follow allows the  emotions to say themselves. One of our oldest patterns comes  right from our imagination: If…Then.

Combining metaphor with "If…then" is an  ancient pattern in poetry and a good one to try. Don't worry  about the word "metaphor." Just follow the model and  you will be fine.

Speak directly to Earth, as if you were writing a kind of  personal letter/poem, like "Dear Earth..."

One pattern that releases many to write is the old If-Then logic pattern, using comparisons (metaphorical language). Notice that once the pattern is established, it is possible to drop the words if and then.

EXAMPLES

If I am the bird soaring  high,
Then you are the sky in which I fly.

If I am the minnow in the  sea,
Then you are the water embracing me.

I am the ant busy in my  hill,
You are the soil I tunnel through.

I am the deer in the woods, browsing,
You are the leaves and twigs that turn into  me.

I am the blade of  grass rising from a sidewalk crack,
You are the rain that I drink.

--grade 4

Here is another example, which begins with a different  pattern, the thank you. What makes this one work so well is  the metaphor:

Earth,

Thank you
for lifting the kite of myself
into the sky.

--grade 4

This poem can take many paths or patterns; the only  'right' one is the one that allows writers to powerfully  express their feelings toward Earth. Metaphor is recommended, but not required.

Teacher Note: Suggest patterns. Don't insist on them. 
Students should find ways to write this that please them. 
Creativity is by nature divergent. Vive la difference!

STUDENT SOURCE SHEET
Student Source  Sheets are to be copied and given to students.
Examples are then read aloud.

Notice that these example poems include things about Earth that trouble us, like discomfort and death and being eaten. You may want to try to include the troubling aspects of Earth in your poem. Or not. Notice also that not all examples follow the If...Then pattern, and that's fine.

Earth, if I'm the fly
Then you are the lizard swallowing me.
Earth, if I'm the bird,
Then you are the birdhouse I nest in.
Earth, if you are the soil,
Then I am the flower growing from you.
Earth, if you are the tree,
Then I am the oxygen coming from you.

--Ivan (grade 4)

Earth,

You are a leaf,
I am the treefrog that will sleep on you.
When I hide, I will hide under you for safety,
When I get caught, I will come back to you,
When I die, you will be my grave where I will rest in peace.

--Taylor (grade 4)

 
Earth,

You are the wind in my hair,
You are the sun shining on my face,
You are the snow's breeze chilling my cheeks,
You are the trees dropping leaves around me
As I lie in soft grass.

--Amanda (grade 4)