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Children's Poetry
Home | Poet Study: Karla Kuskin | Karla's Poems (two favorites) | More Poems by Karla | More Kuskin Poems | Even More Kuskin Poems | Kuskin Bibliography | Kuskin References (& more) | Poetry Breaks - Module 1 | Poetry Break # 1 | Poetry Break # 2 | Poetry Break # 3 | Poetry Breaks: #4, #5 | Module 2 | Poetry Break # 6 | Poetry Break # 7 | Poetry Break: #8 | Poetry Break # 9 | Poetry Break # 10 | Module 3 | Poetry Break # 11 | Poetry Break # 12 | Poetry Break # 13 | Poetry Break # 14 | Poetry Break # 15 | Module 4 | Poetry Break # 16 | Poetry Break # 17 | Poetry Break # 18 | Poetry Break # 19 | Poetry Break # 20 | Module 5 | Poetry Break # 21 | Poetry Break # 22 | Poetry Break # 23 | Poetry Break # 24 | Poetry Break # 25 | Module 6 | Poetry Break # 26 | Poetry Break # 27 | Poetry Break # 28 | Poetry Break # 29 | Poetry Break # 30 | Bibliography (1) | Bibliography (2)
Poetry Break # 16

Poems Relevant to Social Science

Introduction: Talk briefly about some characteristics of the Native American culture, including the reverence for nature and the fact that the “spoken word was (is) sacred…Words were (are) chosen carefully and rarely wasted.”  Stories, songs and prayers were (are) passed down orally from the "old to the young.” (Quotes from Virgina Driving Hawk Sneve, Dancing Teepees, full reference below).


Nicely, Nicely


Nicely, nicely, nicely, away in the east

the rain clouds care for the little corn


as a mother cares for her babies.


Zuni Corn Ceremony ( from Dancing Teepes)



Thanks to Mother Earth


Onen, we give thanks

to our mother, the Earth,

for she gives us all that we need for life.


She supports our feet

as we walk upon her.

She is there to catch us

if we should fall.


It has always been this way

since the beginning,

for she is our mother,

the one who cares for us.


It gives us great joy

that Mother Earth

continues still to care for us.


So it is that we join

our minds together

to give greetings and thanks

to this Earth, our mother.


Mohawk, Eastern Woodlands

(from The Circle of Thanks)


Song for Thunder


Thonah! Thonah!

There is a voice above,

the voice of thunder

within the dark cloud.

Again it sounds, again and again.

Thonah! Thonah!

Thonah! Thonah!


The voice that makes beautiful the


the voice above,

the voice of thunder

that brings us the rain,

within the dark cloud

it sounds again, again and again.

Thonah! Thonah!

Thonah! Thonah!


The voice that makes beautiful the


the voice that makes beautiful the land,

it is answered by the voice below,

the grasshopper among the plants.

Again it sounds, again and again,

the voice that makes beautiful the land.


Navajo, Southwest (from The Circle of Thanks).


Extension: a) Read the poems alone first. Next, have students read Thanks to Mother Earth and Song for Thunder with you. When the class reads Song for Thunder, give several students drums and shakers.  Have them play the instruments softly during the chorus of “Thonah! Thonah!”  b) Read other poems and songs in both of these books. Make a list of the tribes associated with each poem and song. On a large U.S. map, mark where the tribes live or lived. 



Bruchac, Joseph, editor. The Circle of Thanks: Native American Poems and Songs of Thanksgiving. Illustrations by Murv Jacob. N.Y.: Bridgewater Books, 1996, unpaged. ISBN: 0816740127.


Sneve, Virginia Driving Hawk, editor. Dancing Teepees: Poems of American  Indian Youth.  Illustrations by Stephen Gammell. New York: Holiday House, 1989, unpaged. ISBN: 0823407241.