Animal Magnetism

Last week, we did things a little differently. The students partook in a joint collaborative effort between the Poetry Center and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; you can read a little more about it here. Instead of beginning with a poem by an established poet to read, discuss, and then utilize as a prompt for a poem, we started by brainstorming about certain animals, asking how they move, what sounds they make, and what features or qualities they have? Once we had some worksheets to work with, I explained that we were going to listen to a piece of classical music from Camille Saint-SaënsCarnival of the Animals. The first time through, students were asked to simply listen to the piece, and if inspired, write down any words that came to mind about the animal on their brainstorm worksheets. The second time, students were asked to draft their poem, titling it after the name of the movement from Saint-Saëns’ suite and incorporating some of the language from their worksheets. If there was enough time, we listened yet again to finish, and in some classes we were able to repeat the process with a second animal.

Here’s a sampling of poems from each class. Great work, 2nd graders!

Ms. Rupp, 2nd Grade

Joseph D.

Tortoises are really slow.
They are green and really
clumsy like. They also sway
and hide their head under
their shell. It could

be really old.
They can live up
to a really high

sometimes 150 years old.
It can be really cranky
and its shell is really

Nathan D.

Swan you are going to
keep swimming or are
you going to be sad

but at least do one
simple thing be
is all I have to
tell you.

Evan H.

Swans are peaceful yet I
want one.

They are white and beautiful
I like it.

They have beautiful feathers
they swim like flowing music.

They take care of their own
very good to make a good
mom swan.

I would name it if I had


Aamira H.

Tortoises they are slow motion
animals that is what makes
them unique but they are really
lucky they do not get killed.
I am happy for them. If I
ever see one I’m sure I would
think it’s beautiful and I think they
deserve not to be killed.

Darian K.

Swans. They just swim around gracefully
like a star. But they can bite so
be aware. Otherwise they are nice
animals. Just don’t bother them…

They have no teeth but
a beak is strong so don’t bother
to even touch a feather just feed
them. It’s like nature: they are bad
when they are mad.

So don’t call them ugly you will
learn your lesson when you see a
white, black beautiful bird that can swim
just like a boat.

Vincent L.

I saw a swan in a lake
beautiful in the day time
feeding it with bread
some of the fishes caught
it but the swan caught the
most then I ate a sandwich
for my lunch with butter
and jelly and ham.
The swan seemed to
want it so I gave it
what it wanted.
I had to leave
because it was dawn I got
to bed and started to
sleep so then I slept.

Maya M.

Beautiful in the water as it
floats in the water. There it goes with
its white feathers. There it goes across
the water.

By the time I turn it will
be gone. There it goes in the
water it will go.

Anif O.

I saw a tortoise then yeah
now I had a pet.
He was so slow then
when I feed him
he always plays and
goes to sleep.
Then I go to
sleep it is really
fun having a pet
turtle. But one day
he died I was
really sad.

Ms. Beaudry, 2nd Grade

Rebecca B.

Flitter flatter birds!
Fly fast. Fly on
faster but, then stops.
I see 15 toucans.

They are all a beauty.
One plays my

I wish I could fly gracefully.
I give it my snack.
More birds!

They pick me
they are small.
I fly now on and

now they fly me home.
This is a moment I’ll
never forget.

Isabelle D.

Quiet and slow.
Now down the path
he goes, to get to
the pond with the
nice and peaceful
wind. Quiet as he
goes he doesn’t make
a peep or a sound.

Taylor H.

Slow, slow, slow, the tortoise goes. Wobble,
wobble, wobble the tortoise moves side
to side to side. Then he stops he
hears something. He hides in his

Then he knows that it is nothing
so he keeps on walking.
So he goes to eat some food.
He eats an apple and a banana,
now he is full.

Then he goes back into his
shell. Then he keeps on walking.

Anson L.

There once was a tortoise
exploding tortoise

it was bad

I saw him explode

Tortoise Walks
Brooklyn N.

Quiet days through
the snow
here I go
moving slow

Quiet days through
the snow
walking again
love wind

Quiet days through
the snow
follow the
tortoise here
I go

Quiet days through the snow
no scarf
only me
and tortoise
who I choose

Quiet days through the snow.

Slow and Wobbly Tortoise
Amber P.

It is peaceful. Slowly and quietly.
Taking its time. It takes small
steps. It is a very good swimmer.
The tortoise is wobbly and has to
be careful when its walking.
“Clink, clonk.” That’s what tortoises
sound like when the shells hit.

Ethan W.

An aviary is
a nice place
and there are
like a lot

of birds there and
they are tweeting
it sounds like a
well played

Ms. Schwartz, 2nd Grade

Maquan B.

An elephant is a large
mammal. They lay medium eggs.
After all elephants are
the biggest mammals on the
planet. An elephant is 100
pounds that’s about 90 basically
in 10 kids.

Chelsea C.

I’m an elephant um
big I’m gray I have tusks
I’m big and gray
I am strong
I protect my babies
from strangers

Jakayla L.

They are slow
they walk and they have trunks
they’re big
and they live in the zoo

Tanzania T.

Elephants eats leaves but sometimes
elephants give birth to a baby and it stomps
sometimes they drink water an elephant feels
disappointed their baby is gray their skin feels

London T.

An elephant is big
and has a trunk

an elephant walks slow
and an elephant
sounds like a trumpet
and an elephant is wobbly
and a baby elephant
is really small

and really

an elephant protects
its baby all day


Ms. Ward, 2nd Grade

Isaiah I.

It is gray has
big feet and has big
tusks and has big teeth.
It can charge at other
animals, and has stinky
breath. It feels soft
and has good skin
and eats peanuts and eats
peanut butter, and tries
their hardest to protect
their babies, and is nice
to people that are nice.
And elephants are very
brave and very very strong
and don’t brush their teeth
and protect themselves
and are very very slow. And
they cry when their
babies are dead.

Roman M.

I picture in my mind it’s the starting of a battle and the elephants
charging up to destroy a kingdom with soldiers shooting on top of
the elephants. And the elephant had treasure on its back and
the other team was shooting arrows at the elephant to
get the treasure and it finally fell off and the other
team was rich with tons of gold.

Ari P.

An elephant is slow and steady
I think it is relaxing. It will
rest for some reason.

Bruce R.

An elephant moves as slow as a turtle or
a turtle that had three legs
call wobbly an elephant is as loud as
a horn

Emily X.

The elephant moves
slowly while I’m
walking home to
the zoo is so
shaking while the
elephant stomps.

I walk the
elephant is loud
the crowd stares
at it.

The elephant sounds
like sad it
looks like gray
to walk home
to the zoo.

So I said “Goodbye elephant”
as I went out the
zoo. As the elephant feels like sad.

As I walk
out the zoo
I feed some

So I can
tell I like
animals and
take care
of animals.

I felt sad
too because
the elephant
was alone so
I cried as
I walked



“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.