This poem, Where I’m From written by George Ella Lyon, is a touching one that gives insight to the person who wrote it through the senses and visualization. From family sayings to the smells that bring her childhood to life, it is like a time capsule of memories: an opening to a her heart and an inside secret all in one. The Where I’m From poetry activity will sure open a door in getting to know your students and encourage creativity and expression.
Studying this poem and then creating a sort of copy-cat poem from it is a great activity for your students (and YOU) to do. It encourages deep reflection as students practice self-awareness.
Based on this poem, you can help your students create their own poetry to encapsulate this time in their lives. In the past I have used this poem and the creation of one as an activity around this time of year as part of National Poetry Month. And since it is a poem about the child, it is also a great project to complete in time for Mother’s Day. (A real tear-jerker!)
To get you started, here are some links and ideas to help bring the poem into your classroom.
Where I’m From
I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.
I’m from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I’m from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I’m from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.
I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger,
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.
Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments–
snapped before I budded —
leaf-fall from the family tree.
Where I’m From by George Ella Lyon
(Have a copy of this available for your students.)
Follow this link to hear George Ella Lyon, the poet, recite her poem
Play this multiple times for your students and ask them to give their reflections on the poem.
- What parts of the poem stand out to you?
- What creates a sense of flow and rhythm in the poem?
- What images come to mind as you listen to/read the poem?
- What conclusions can you draw about the poet from the things she has described?
Get a copy of the worksheet for students to gather ideas for the poem.
Study Where I’m From – Poetry Activity:
Following a brainstorm and before giving students time to write theirs, invite students to study the poem, noticing where Lyon writes “I’m from…”, “from…” and uses lines to further describe some aspect of her childhood.
Here are some student examples (grade 4) of their own “I’m From” poems:
“Where I’m From…”
I am from sweet smells,
New books and paper.
Reusable shopping bags,
And sprinkle coated ice-cream that taste so good on hot days. From Germany and England,
My bed, chair, and couch.
I am from my family,
My mom, dad, sister, and Grandma That comfort me when I’m sad.
I am from “I can hear you up there!” To, “Go for it!”
From the old story of ‘Princess Kate’
I am from the sugary taste of mint chocolate chip ice-cream, And salty, orange Play Dough
From chicken frying on the grill,
And candy apples waiting on a napkin.
I am from the beautiful pictures of my family,
Coming from my mind,
my pink, glistening camera, and my quilted scrap-book It is these memories I will never forget.
And here’s another:
“Where I’m From…”
I am from rivers, from beaches and lobster pots. I am from salty oceans
which make me shiver in the cold.
I am from the Mouth of the Merrimack River the roughest place on the East Coast
Which I go through every summer day I know it by heart.
I’m from Cranmore and skiing from Dexter and Peyton
I’m from the bankers,
and the doctors
from “Go Fast or Go Home”
I’m from stories about my brother
and lullabies my dad made up for us as babies.
I’m from Andrea and Brady Barbecue and chicken fingers from the hysterical songs about my brother
all making me lucky.
In a room, I have baseball trophies that I will cherish
all my life
I am from those times
that whizzed by so fast
that all belong to my home.
I hope you try this in your classrooms. Please let me know how it goes.
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