Thursday, August 15, 2013

Common Core IRL: Volcano Wakes Up! science & poetry (ages 7 - 10)

Poetry can make many topics more animated than straight nonfiction, especially when it's combined with outstanding artwork. If students are excited reading about volcanoes, they'll love Lisa Westberg Peters' Volcano Wakes Up!, with illustrations by the amazing Steve Jenkins.

We'd like to share this as part of our Common Core IRL: In Real Libraries look at volcanoes, as students read about a topic from many sources, gradually increasing in text complexity. The Common Core standards ask students to read a wide variety of literature, including poetry, throughout the year. This is a great moment to encourage students to try out different types of poetry and look at how the craft of poetry adds to a nonfiction topic.
Volcano Wakes Up
by Lisa Westberg Peters
illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Henry Holt / Macmillan, 2010
your local library
ages 7 - 10
Imagining a day in the life of a volcano, Peters brings readers right into the setting of an imaginary volcano on Hawaii. Told in alternating points of view, these sixteen poems are both humorous and descriptive as they chart a day from sunrise to moonrise.

Peters creates fun voices for each character. Little volcano starts us off: "I'm a little sleepy/ now, but when I wake up, watch out! I throw/ nasty tantrums." The ferns love the mornings "when Fire-maker sleeps late." Two Lava Flow Crickets send funny text messages to each other. One starts with:
"Hey, bro, where R U?
I know it's early a.m.
:-< But I have a feeling
the Big V's gonna
shake tonite."
These poems add humor to a nonfiction unit, as well as provide a way for students to think about and experience nature in a different way. Some students might even think about writing their own poetry, creating new characters based on some of their other reading and discoveries.

Common Core connections

The Common Core standards explicitly call for students to study the craft and structure of literature. As librarians, we must provide our students with a wide range of examples, especially ones that appeal to students' interests. You might connect Volcano Wakes Up! with these 3rd grade Common Core standards:
CCSS RL3.5 Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections.
CCSS RL3.6 Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.
The Common Core asks students to write and discuss poetry, explaining how the craft of poetry contributes to the overall effect of poem. At times I worry that this will take away the enjoyment of fun poetry, but I think that's part of how we approach it. As I work on this in my own teaching practice, I want to remember to help students talk about the craft a little - but always in the view of asking why it works, why it's funny, how the poet created it so we enjoyed it so much.

Do your students enjoy poetry and science when they're combined together? Do you have any favorite poetry books that help children experience a new place in the world? I'd love to hear your favorites in the comments.

For more great poetry resources, check out today's Poetry Friday, hosted at Steps and Staircases. Poetry Friday is a weekly celebration organized by KidLit bloggers - for the full schedule, check here.

Check out these other posts from the Common Core IRL: In Real Libraries.

Many thanks to my colleagues and contributors with Common Core IRL: Alyson Beecher, Louise Capizzo, Travis Jonker and Cathy Potter. We hope to continue to bring you topics throughout the year. The review copy came from my school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. This sounds like a great book, Mary Ann! Thanks for sharing! A fantastic combination - science and poetry!

  2. I will keep an eye out at my local library, thanks for sharing.

    My daughters just started reading, this sounds like a good challenging read.

  3. This looks like a great book, and I love all the teacher resources here. I am sharing this with my teacher friends! = )

  4. Clearly, I've been away from your blog for far too long! This IRL feature is GREAT!!

  5. Thank you for sharing this pairing of science and poetry, Mary Ann. Poetry makes everything better ; )


  6. Thanks everyone! I am so glad you're liking this special feature! Also check out our PDF for our Common Core IRL on Frogs: