One Rod Tall

I’ve written before about reading books to my kids and following up with an activity. I read the poem one_inch_tall to my 6th graders as we’re studying ratios and proportions.


One Inch Tall

by Shel Silverstein

If you were only one inch tall, you’d ride a worm to school.

The teardrop of a crying ant would be your swimming pool.

A crumb of cake would be a feast

And last you seven days at least,

A flea would be a frightening beast

If you were one inch tall.

If you were only one inch tall, you’d walk beneath the door,

And it would take about a month to get down to the store.

A bit of fluff would be your bed,

You’d swing upon a spider’s thread,

And wear a thimble on your head

If you were one inch tall.

You’d surf across the kitchen sink upon a stick of gum.

You couldn’t hug your mama, you’d just have to hug her thumb.

You’d run from people’s feet in fright,

To move a pen would take all night,

(This poem took fourteen years to write—

‘Cause I’m just one inch tall).

Then I asked them to write their own poem in similar fashion (structure and style) using a unit length of their choice other than “inch.”

We agreed on the following guidelines:

  • minimum 18 lines, however many stanzas, no more than one page
  • rhyming is fun and recommended, but not necessary
  • typed up, size 12 font, no funky-impossible-to-read-annoying font
  • must be illustrated by hand, stick figures are okay as teacher can’t draw either
  • poem title and heading on paper
  • objects in the poem must be reasonably proportional

[Original post had more student samples, I’m just sharing one here.]

One Foot Tall

by Caden

If you were one foot tall, you would only be two pencils long

You would be barely taller than a math book

You could ride a big shade hat down a brook

You could sleep in a school backpack

You wouldn’t be able to reach the door handle

If you were one foot tall

If you were one foot tall, a roof would be a cliff

An iMac would be a flat screen TV

A sturdy folder would be a surfboard when riding in ferocious winds

A bathtub would be a hot tub to rest in

A Dalmatian dog would be a horse you could ride away on

If you were one foot tall

If you were one foot tall, a dog’s bed would be a perfect size

A desk chair would be a lounge chair to sit and rest in

The shrubs in the backyard would be a small jungle

A grape would be a plum

A kitchen sink would be a nice bathtub

If you were one foot tall


Speaking of reading and books and math, hot off the press is Nico Rowinsky‘s new ebook, Sally Strange. Nico clearly has a good pulse on middle school kids — he writes with heart and lightness and allows the mathematics to weave ever so gently through the pages. His Sally Strange is an all-too-familiar 7th grader in our classroom. Get it for yourself, for a friend, for a young friend, for your school library (when the hard copy comes out).


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