Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Visit From Poet Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

(above) Amy Ludwig VanDerwater visits our writing workshop
Children’s lives have been touched by poetry this week and by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater.  When I wrote a grant to our school’s Foundation for funding a visit from poet Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, I knew  writing with a poet would be an incredible experience for children.  In my grant I wrote,

“Having Ludwig visit our school would give our students the chance to work with and learn from an accomplished poet, someone who specializes in promoting original thought and observation.  The skills and lessons Amy Ludwig VanDerwater has to offer are indispensable, and will resonate with students as they approach all curriculum areas.”

I would like to amend that to now read, “...and will resonate with students as they approach all areas of their lives.”  In a grade level presentation Amy talked with the children about the importance of living with your eyes open, noticing the world around you.  She explained that sometimes adults forget how to do this but that kids are very good at this.  “If you want to see things on a walk in the woods, take a child along,” she suggested.

Our visiting poet also talked about doing what you love with passion, whether it is cooking or basketball or writing.  Practice that passion, even when it becomes difficult and never give up. She shared ways students might approach writing when they feel like they have nothing to write.  Through her work with our students, Amy demonstrated how they might find endless topics to write about.  “Finding ideas is just like looking under rocks,” she suggested.

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(above) Sharing how our class celebrates Poetry Friday
When I asked my third graders if they would be willing to share how they felt about Amy’s visit, they eagerly offered the following:  

-- I think that it was so fun having Amy here because she helped me get better at writing poems.  When she reads her poems, I feel like I can write.  I can write so many more poems now for Poetry Club.

--I think it was great having Amy Ludwig VanDerwater here at Wealthy Elementary.  I learned how to write Mask poems and poems of Address.  I know how to get inspiration- by just looking around!

--Amy L.V. was a great help to me.  She helped me find things to write about.  It turns out you can write about anything.

-- Amy L.V. advanced my poetry.  The linebreak tip helped a lot.  Everything she said, I tried in my own writing.  I liked how Amy L.V. got her ideas “everywhere.”  She looks around and grabs ideas left and right.
(above) Amy conferring with students about line breaks

--It was fun having Amy L.V. come to Wealthy Elementary.  I had an amazing time writing with her.  I love how you can be anything in poems.

--She made me feel like if I didn’t like something in my poem it was okay to just try it over and over again until I like it.

-- It was so awesome having her here.  At first I could not even say one word meeting her, she was so cool, and then she helped me with a poem.  Thanks for bringing her to Wealthy.

In today’s classroom, the lines between areas of study are becoming less distinct, and characteristics of one subject have the capacity to carry over into others.  Encouraging the spread of poetry  into other disciplines will encourage children to write with passion and creativity.

Amy Ludwig’s visit will inspire and empower both students and teachers to explore poetry throughout all content areas and to learn more about the world by looking through the eyes of a poet. Amy's reading poetry, performing poetry, sharing writing ideas, and telling of poem backstories (from moment of spark through revision and editing) will be an important and influential event, one that will be felt for years to come at Wealthy School.

On Monday when we all feel a little sad that she has returned to her home, we will take a little trip to visit her at the Poem Farm.


This is the Word Blanket we created in honor of Amy’s visit.  Each child contributed a word with Mrs. denDulk.  She arranged them into this beautiful blanket which is hanging in Wealthy’s entryway.  Mrs. Zimdar crafted the tree in the center from the image on Amy’s poetry collection “Forest Has a Song.”  Look for it on the Poem Farm!

Word Blanket

I cover myself with a blanket of words


I quilted each consonant into this cloth.
Each vowel is keeping me warm.


Words to remember

I’m Pulling my word blanket up to my chin.
I’m sleeping with words.

Good night.


  1. I am sitting here in Holland, NY...looking at my beautiful quilted poetry tree, reading your poems, thinking about our time together, and feeling so thankful. Big hugs from one snowy city to another. I miss you. xo, a.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your time with Amy LV with the rest of us. I enjoyed your stories and the poetry created.


  3. I loved reading the students' comments! It's so true that Amy's poetry teaches us that we, too, can be poets and that inspiration comes from close observation of our world! Lucky lucky Wealthy Elementary to have her words and lessons in your hearts for the rest of your lives!