I just found this animated story by Naghmeh Farzaneh who came from Iran to study in the U.S. Naghmeh struggles so much with the English language and the life but she remembers one thing her mother told her and it helps. This is called, “Scent of Geranium.”
“This is how we’re gonna do. We’re gonna dance the Nepali song. Cross left leg over right. One – two – three – go.” Then the movie song, Kale Dai, blasted from the instructor Pujan Wagley’s phone through the school gym. Over the weeks, we moved from the Nepali dance into “Whatcha Gon Do With That Dessert.” And Pujan, a student at Worcester State and a Bhutanese dancer, taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders hip hop moves to rapper Darwin’s song. Students end with a flowy, traditional dance to Ki Chhori hu ma. This is a story about working with Pujan at Concord, NH’s Broken Ground School where I brought a poetry workshop, too – so together Pujan and I offered poetry and dance. Our work was supported by a grant to the 21C After School program by the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.
Here are some lines of poems students wrote about dancing with friends and with Pujan:
Pujan is one of the best dancers in the world.
When I dance I feel happy inside because
my body is moving.
I love dancing.
Pujan is so fun. I love dancing with Pujan
These are Pujan’s own words, “1 – 2 – 3 – Go.”
Then we start.
My name is Molly. I drift
with the beat.
right, left, right, left.
Now repeat that a few times.
My name is Molly. I drift
with the beat.
No matter what, I keep dancing
When I dance with Pujan I feel…
When I dance with Pujan he says,
left arm high,
then right arm high
Out of time.
Put your left hand here and put your
right hand here. The girls do this
and the boys do this.
It is really fun to dance with Pujan.
He says one foot at a time and move
your hips and, Always smile every time.
and, Don’t look sad. Be happy.
That’s why I love dancing.
When people dance with Pujan they feel like
they are about to fly in the Milky Way
because he can teach you how to do the dance
moves in a second. He doesn’t yell when you get
the moves wrong.
Dance feels like you could just
lift up into the clouds with
a mind of joy.
Well-loved volunteers who came to see the students perform at Parent’s Night and were awarded with flowers and art.
Of course we read lots of poems. Here’s a reading list of ideas for a poem and dance celebration.
Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More, Poems for Two Voices. We played with poems in two voices to feel the rhythm of movement back and forth between readers.
Arm in Arm – by Remy Charlip
I love this book for it’s crazy whimsy. The students didn’t move into stillness, but a way to imagine it comes from Remy’s poem:
BEFORE ME PEACEFUL
BESIDE ME PEACEFUL
BEHIND ME PEACEFUL
ABOVE ME PEACEFUL
BELOW ME PEACEFUL
ALL AROUND ME PEACEFUL
Remy always makes me smile. Take “Riddle Joke:
“Ask me if I’m a boat. / Are you a boat? / Yes. Now ask me if I’m an airplane. / No, silly. I’m a boat.”
Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill includes this poem we read like an echo chant.
And colors sing,
And colors laugh,
And colors cry___
They make you feel
Every feeling there is.”
Honey, I Love by Eloise Greenfield especially “Way Down in the Music”
This is Just to Say, poems of Apology and Forgiveness by Joyce Sidman
The title of our workshop was “Building Friendships Through Dance and Creative Writing” and this collection gave us ideas for writing about friends, including “Dark Haired Girl.”
You Read to Me I’ll Read to You by Mary Ann Hoberman. I adapted the poem “New Friends” in this collection and it inspired many students’ poems about meeting a new friend for the first time.
Congratulations Pujan, new friend, and kids at Broken Ground!
I’ve been reading stories without words. Turn the pages and you see beautiful picture puzzles for all ages of readers. Here is a collection of stories I love, ones I’ve also brought to international students who are learning English. And we have fun composing the story in words from the perspective of many cultures. The first one is a little bit longer than a picture book; in fact, it’s called a graphic book: Here I Am by Patty Kim, with pictures by Sonia Sanchez. Here’s a taste of a boy’s journey in this strange new land.
Mirror by Jeannie Baker is by now a classic and is still wonderful. The book guides us to read two different pages side by side. Each set of pages depicts times of the day of a family, one in Morocco, the other in Ms. Baker’s home country of Australia. I love how one culture becomes much more clear when we see how another culture shares much in common.
I’m including The Red Book by Barbara Lehman because this book could be from any culture, any reader in the world. It’s about the magic and wonder that comes from opening a book.
Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Sydney Smith. A winner of a book from Canada. Like The Red Book this is also about wonder and imagination. Wonder in a red coat.
Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell. I love this book. It is simply a story about kindness overcoming fear, which I include here for the obvious reason among stories of many cultures.
Now, from one of my favorite illustrators, Raul Colon:
A boy alone in his room. Pencils. Sketchbook in hand. What would it be like to go on safari? Imagine. Draw……
That’s what these books seem to have in common. They open their arms to our imagination.