Posted April 2, 2014 & filed under Notebook.

At the zoo

I saw a


He was as

tall as a


I wanted

to slide

down his


by Lucas, age 3



Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Malik Walker, an 8th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. The background music is “I Just Can’t Wait (To Go To The Zoo)” by Anna Lee. Produced by Susan Phillips.

This poem is featured as part of the 2014 Poem A Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by Writers in the Schools (WITS) that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click here to learn more.


Original post published: August 12, 2013

Walk in the Woods

Posted January 6, 2014 & filed under Notebook.

This is where to go

when you need

to think

or not to think

Find the woods

to find yourself

strolling under a canopy

of starlight

the smell of pine needles

in the air

a rustle over there in

the bushes

a sky like a

blanket of blue

just keep walking

until you forget

all the things

you need to do

all the things

you’re scared of

all the confusion

in your head

just keep walking

until you start to

feel like the branches

of a tree or the

stars above.

By Jonathan, 5th grade

Red Bird

Posted November 13, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

In the woods

I see a red bird.

Tat, tat, tat.

A train races by

but the bird

stays still,

like it’s made

out of clay.

By Cole, 2nd grade

Changing Seasons

Posted October 31, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

In spring,
I will color the world light blue.
The sun will rise up.
The birds will sing a song
And people will dance all day long.
Dogs will bark
And the day will pass in front of me.

In winter,
I will color the world white.
Snow will fall.
We will jump up and down,
Up and down.
The snow is bigger than we
Will ever be.
Snowflakes everywhere.
So we make snowballs.

by Dawn, 3rd Grade


Black Rock Today

Posted February 20, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

Student writing at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Student writing at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Today I am a small, black, little thing,
the size of a quarter.
Today I am a rock with a message saying “don’t go there.”
Today I am a rock with no reason and no purpose
but to sit there in the soft, mushy soil.
Today I am life,
I am light.
Today I am flight.

by Zachary, 4th grade


Forest Life

Posted February 11, 2013 & filed under Notebook.


If I lived in the forest, I would see turtles
and smell the flowers.
I would be a bird and fly away,
and would climb trees so high…
I would even jump in the water
with the turtles,
and give them food,
and they’d better not bite my fingers
or I would scream!
If I lived in the forest, I would touch
the mushrooms and they would be soft.
I would be a bird and make bird sounds.

by Mackenzie, 3rd grade

Writers in the Schools has partnered with the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center since 2002 to engage urban youth with their environment, exposing and educating students on the natural world.

I Believe

Posted January 30, 2013 & filed under Notebook.


I believe in the pink, fresh flowers
That grow slowly in a garden.
I believe in the aroma of the strawberry, sweet perfume
That flows through the air.
I believe in the soft rain
That falls from the clouds to the ground.
I believe in the slippery black and white penguin
That plays with me.
I believe in the sour, yellow lemon with salt
That I adore.
I believe that one day I will see all of nature
That I am missing.
I believe in me.

by Julieta, 3rd grade


Posted November 12, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

I saw a Monarch butterfly. It was orange and black. It was cold so it traveled to Mexico where it was hot. The butterfly was sad because it did not have sugar water to drink. I gave it water, and it became my friend. We went to Texas together. I named her Sparkle. She did not have any friends but me, and I met her family; they are nice too. They live with me now. I take care of them, and on Fridays I get them more sugar water.

by Chaya, 2nd grade

Elizabeth Wolf-Fighter, Snake-Rattler, Boar-Eater

Posted August 9, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

In the 1800’s there was a girl named Elizabeth Wolf-Fighter, Snake-Rattler, Boar-Eater. She’s not an ordinary girl. She’s a thunderbolt, a strike of lightning, an alligator hunter. She’s as tough as an ox. One day she decided to head west. Along her way she came across some horrible conditions. Nothing  bigger than her normal. One afternoon, she was sitting against the body of a pine tree. Suddenly a fierce animal approached the tree when Elizabeth was training her pet cobra. The animal was a rare white large mountain panther with razor sharp teeth. The people of the woods were scared of the big white beast.

“That’s an easy one to wrestle,” Elizabeth said.

As she looked into the eyes of the big cat, she whispered to herself, “You’re too easy to wrestle so I can just bring you home.”

After she said that, the white panther looked more friendly. He roared and bellowed. Luckily, Elizabeth taught herself how to speak mountain panther. He said, “Yes, you can train me to be more fierce, like you.”

“Yes,” she said.

Then she packed up her cobra and got on the back of a mountain lion and road home. When she got home, the people were no longer afraid of the beast. “Hurray for Elizabeth Wolf-Fighter, Snake-Rattler, Boar-eater!” they cheered. Then everyone was friends with the panther.

by Mikala, 4th grade

Notes from WITS Writer Sarah Gajkowski-Hill at Creative Writing Camp:

At camp that day we had a discussion of how rough it would’ve been to be a pioneer and how their entertainment, after a long hard day of work, was telling stories. Pioneers wouldn’t have been too impressed with these stories unless the heroes and heroines were larger than life and won against the elements. This discussion led to the students writing tall tales and then we distributed clay and they molded their main characters out of the clay.


Light’s Reflection

Posted August 8, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

I look into a clear blue river
That whispers to me, “Look here! Look here!”
And so I satisfy my curiosity and see a sliver
Of light outstretch a hand into where
I then see a collision of color
That tastes of sweet solace and content
With the thought of no longer returning to the other
Side of the light. The side where everything has so much intent
And all is done as asked from the city. But I
Know I feel the relief of this stream helping
Me defeat all existing anxiety within my eye
And giving me this chance to rest and dream, finally begin forgetting.
Life is a struggle endured every day
So one should just breathe we know
Everything will be okay.

by Hannah, 10th grade

WITS Students Create Walking Tour with Poetry

Posted July 27, 2012 & filed under Notebook.


The 2011-12  Writers In The Schools class at Meadow Wood Elementary School consisted of 69 amazing, creative students and 3 teachers who worked hard to honor the building of a new school. The students collected objects and memories to place in a time capsule; then they scripted a poem, with each student reading his/her line, which you can listen to as you walk a 1 mile walking tour through SPARK Park. Click here to access the audio walking tour and a map of the park. Congrats to a wonderful project honoring our city!

Time Capsule Items

Hear Our Houston is a collection of public generated audio walking tours around Houston.

“A Tall Tale” from Creative Writing Camp

Posted July 18, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

WITS Writer Elizabeth A. M. Keel

One of our Creative Writing Camp instructors is Elizabeth A. M. Keel-a local novelist and playwright. Her plays have been produced by the University of Houston, The Nova Arts Project, The Scriptwriters/Houston, Big Head Productions, Bootown, and Mildred’s Umbrella Theater Company. Her first novel, Running Into Trouble, was published in 2010. Elizabeth currently works as a teaching artist for the Alley Theatre, helping local teens write and produce short plays.

From Elizabeth’s Classroom:


A Tall Tale

Well, I was born out of an alligator’s mouth. When he tried to eat me, I punched his gut. When I went fishing, I would tie myself to a branch and fish with my bare hands. Once I tried staring down a fish. And it worked! Everyone wanted me to stare down the biggest fish this side of the Mississippi so I went and found it. I stared at it for five days and nights but it was just a rock.

by Jackson, 4th grade

This summer Elizabeth taught at our AOS campus, and had this to say about the above piece:

 As a playwright, I love hearing stories told out loud. Some of my favorites are the wild, exaggerated Tall Tales that came out of Texas and the rest of the American West. The camp lesson we formed incorporated colorful metaphors and the power of hyperbole – which, of course, can be more fun that a sack of badgers! But also offered the students the opportunity to write in a new voice: one of over-the-top, zany fun. Jackson’s Tall Tale portrays a classic surprise twist and a sprinkling of the humility that helps keep a Tall Tale hero in his place!

Dear Tree

Posted December 8, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

Stand up straight and hold your spot in years.  Rain will nourish you.  Drink water and soil.  Be as huge as you can.  Don’t fall down during strong winds and break your long, thin branches.  Grow as tall as you can.  Be healthy and strong as a house.  You are shelter for animals.  You can’t fall.

By Henry, 4th grade

The World Is With Me

Posted October 12, 2011 & filed under Poem of the Day.

When I am lost, I turn to the stars

When I am lonely, I climb trees

When I am angry, the storm screams in my ear

When I don’t have any answers, I walk in the woods

When I feel strong, I run in the wind

When I am happy, the sun burns bright

No matter what, the world is with me

By Sid, age 11

Nature Metaphors

Posted April 22, 2011 & filed under Poem of the Day.

I am the koala that climbs. 
You are the wind that flows through the trees. 
I certainly am flowers in the meadow. 
There is not a doubt that you are the wolf that runs, 
but I am the sound of birds that sing in the morning, 
and you are the soft stream that flows. 
I am the lemur that swings, 
and you are the eagle that soars. 
I definitely am the breaking dawn, 
and you are the colors of the rainbow. 
I am the silence of night, 
and you are the monkey that howls. 
I am the shepherd’s sheep. 
You are the swaying branches. 
I am the bright blue sky. 
You are the white, clean dove. 
I am the icy mountain. 
You are the fruit that ripens. 
I am the Arctic Circle. 
You are the calmed ocean. 
I am the soft, sweet sand. 
You are the sound of joy. 
I am the lion that sleeps. 
You are the shark that moves forward. 
I am the shining fish. 
You are the nature of the world. 

by Antonio, 3rd grade

Photo by semuthutan via Flickr

Happy Earth Day! This poem is featured as part of the 2011 A Poem A Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by WITS that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click on the logo to learn more.

The Pond Speaks

Posted September 3, 2010 & filed under Notebook.

The great thing
is not having a
mind. You know
I do not
have a mouth, but
the truth is, I
am speaking now.
Do you
ever permit yourself
to swim in my water?
If you like
to swim in me,
the pond,
I would like
to talk with you.
I like to see bugs
I like frogs.
They like to hop over me
to eat
on lilypads.
I smell food sometimes
because human beings
like to camp
all around me,
and I get to talk
with all of them;
whisper all the time

when they come.

by Katherine, 4th grade

The Heavenly Woods

Posted April 28, 2010 & filed under Poem of the Day.


Once I went to the woods with my family.
I saw the most beautiful mountains and
lakes. The mountains were the colors of
the rainbow. The lake was clear as glass.
The fish were delicious. In these woods I
tasted the juiciest apples and sweetest
strawberries. Even on a hot day, the
temperature of the lake was still freezing
cold. The waterfall sounded very smooth.
My brother, my dad, and I went hiking.
We found a cave, and inside the cave was
filled with beautiful red, gold, and blue
colors that surrounded us like a cage.
South Oklahoma was like heaven.

By Jonathan, 4th grade
[photo by l’herf via flickr]

Originally published on December 9, 2009.

apad2This poem is featured as part of the 2010 A Poem A Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by WITS that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click on the logo to the left to learn more.

Garden Snapshot

Posted September 8, 2009 & filed under Notebook.

It is time to discover the outdoors.
See the flowers surround us?
The sun wants to show its face.
When you look at the flower,
The pink flower, like a tiger’s mouth,
Wait for butterflies to come.
The inside of the peeled white flower
Looks like a bunch of cherry red needles.
But don’t be afraid; they are not sharp.
They are soft like pillows.
The army of flowers is looking for their general.
They are waiting
To march.
The flowers are like a heart
And also like a heart
They pump.
When you look
You will see
More and more flowers
Because it is spring.
Time for them
To come to the world.

By Yaprak, 8th grade

Photo by Courtney Harnage via flickr