Poetry Friday: The Question is Why

I spend my days helping kids learn to read. This is incredibly rewarding, but given the nature of how we learn, it can also be frustrating. Kids may read words with long vowels effortlessly one day, then forget they exist the next. So when one of my students was unable to read the word why (a word she knew the day before) not once, not twice, but three times in a row, I knew she needed a poem starring the word why!

There are at least 100 books of poetry in my classroom. I know I’ve seen a why poem somewhere. But after searching through the most likely volumes, I had nothing. Rather than spend any more time looking, I decided to write one. I quickly jotted down a list of why questions, using words that included a number of different phonics patterns we’ve worked on recently. She read it beautifully and loved it.

Fast forward to Sunday. As I was getting ready to meet with the Sunday Night Swaggers, I realized that our monthly challenge was coming up this week! I didn’t even remember what challenge Margaret had posed. A question poem! What on earth could I write about? I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me a few minutes to realize I’d already written one!

This draft is a more polished version of the poem I wrote for my student. It’s not perfect, but she likes it. And she now knows the word why.


Why do ships sail on the sea?
Why is the sky so blue?
Why do fish swim in the pond?
How I wish I knew!

Why does the moon shine at night?
Why is the grass so green?
Why do bees buzz in the garden?
Why won’t my room stay clean?

Why do ducks say quack, quack, quack?
Why can’t I answer back?

Draft © 2020, Catherine Flynn

Photo by Jenny Bess on Unsplash

What questions are my fellow swaggers asking? Find out by visiting their blogs:

Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche

Then head over to Rebecca Herzog’s blog, Sloth Reads, for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

In case you missed it earlier in the week, there is still time to be entered in my giveaway of David L. Harrison’s new book, After Dark. Read my post about using this book in the classroom here.

12 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: The Question is Why

  1. Oh I love your why poem, and am sure your student will remember the word, and the teacher who took the time to write her a poem! I also love that ducks seem to be a theme today. Yours is the second duck related poem in the questions poems and, randomly, I saw a pair of ducks at the beach this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this….especially for the backstory. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? Poetry to the rescue for your reader friend. I’ll bet she learns lots and lots and lots from you. My favorite part of the poem is the quack, quack, quack!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This poem is nothing fancy–just the kind of thing that a genius teacher and practiced poet can dash off in 5 minutes–and it is purt’ near perfect! It has whimsy, repetition with just enough variation, rhythm and rhyme. More more more said the baby!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s quite a wonderful thing when a teacher writes a poem so a student can read a word, Catherine. I love your poem, am sure your student does, too! This needs to be submitted somewhere!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved the story about your student, Catherine, and the specific problem you faced and solved. What a wonderful teacher you must be and I’m sure your poem, full of questions made a huge difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Writing a poem for your student is THE BEST! Hooray for teachers like you. The child brings her whole being to her reading, so who knows what has distracted her. She will not forget that you wrote a poem for her! Kudos.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love your why poem and the story behind it. It amazes me that you managed to fit in words with phonics patterns you had worked on recently. So clever, Catherine! I bet your student loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Catherine, I know those types of children you are working with. Your poem is a great entry into making connections with word work. Why will become a familiar thought for your student now that you provided a model. Thanks for sharing your work with children.

    Liked by 1 person

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