Poetry Month Mentor Text: Leafy Landmarks!

Just in time for Poetry Month, my new poetry collection, Leafy Landmarks: Travels with Trees has hit the road!

Cover of Leafy Landmarks: Travels with Trees, by Michelle Schaub, shows a multi-ethnic family of mom, dad, two kids and a dog in a red SUV driving down a road with trees all around.

Leafy Landmarks is a road trip through poems across the United States to visit 14 historic tree sites, some famous and others less well known. From the Emancipation Oak in Hampton, Virginia, to the nearly five-thousand-year-old Methuselah tree in Schulman Grove, California, readers will discover trees that have traveled to the moon, witnessed the founding of our country, and inspired hope during troubled times. 

Each poem in Leafy Landmarks follows a specific poetry form, from apostrophe to zeno. These forms are defined in the book’s end pages. 

Endpapers for LEAFY LANDMARKS show a collage leaves from various trees with poetry types and definitions scattered about.

The poetry forms in the book provide great models for students to write their own poems. In the Educators' Guide I provide templates to support students in creating their own poems in particular forms.  Here are some examples: 

The poem "Leaves of Change" is a cherita about the Sons of Liberty's actions during the Revolutionary War, planning rebellion under the boughs of Liberty Trees. 

Illustration from a spread in Leafy Landmarks with a multi-ethnic family of mom, dad, two children and a white dog looking at a plaque on a brick building that says Liberty Tree.

A cherita is a poem of three stanzas that tells a story. The first stanza has one line, the second stanza has two lines, and the third stanza has three lines. (I talk more about why I love sharing cherita's in the classroom in this post.)  Using the CHERITA TEMPLATE in the Educators' Guide, students can write their own cheritas. For a great cross-cirricular connect, have students write cheritas about a topic they are learning about in social studies!  

The poem “One Tree Forest” is an etheree that describes how the Pando aspen grove formed. This vast grove in Utah looks like thousands of individual trees, but it is actually one organism. Below ground, a single root system spreads and sends up new trunks. 

Illustration from the Pando spread in Leafy Landmarks with a multi-ethnic family of mom, dad, two children and a white dog walking through a grove of aspen trees with gold leaves.

etheree is a ten-line poem. The first line has 1 syllable. Each line adds a syllable until the tenth line has 10 syllables. Etherees can also “shrink” from 10 syllables to 1. Using the ETHEREE TEMPLATE in the Educators' Guide, students can write their own etherees. One idea that works great for Arbor Day is to have students select a tree on school grounds or in their neighborhood and write an etheree describing why that tree is special. (More etheree ideas in this post.) 

Perhaps you'd like to challenge your students to write two-voice poems. (Two voice poems are my favorite type of poem to write and teach! I explain why in this post.)  The Leafy Landmarks Educators' Guide has a TWO-VOICE TEMPLATE to go along with the two-voice poem "Resourceful Roots" about Thomas Edison and his banyan tree. Or have your students write epistle poems, poems in letter format, using the mentor poem “Advice from an Ancient,” where an old bristlecone pine writes a letter to a newly sprouted tree. So many possibilities packed into one book. 

The mentor poems in Leafy Landmarks will help your students branch out and try new poetry forms all poetry month long! 


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