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November 20

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein was published in 1974.

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Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein was published in 1974.

Grades 1 – 12
Calendar Activity Type Author & Text

 

EVENT DESCRIPTION

 

 

Children's favorite Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein was published on this day in 1974. While Silverstein's rhymes may have been simple and catchy, his complex and thoughtful themes stick with his readers long after childhood. Silverstein was also a songwriter of such hits as "A Boy Named Sue" and "The Cover of The Rolling Stone."

CLASSROOM ACTIVITY

 

 

Everyone remembers Shel Silverstein. Ask seniors in high school who their favorite poet is and half will give his name. This activity can begin for middle and high school students by asking them what they remember about Silverstein. For lower grade levels, introduce them to a short verse of his poetry like the one below, and ask them for their general impressions: If you had a giraffe . . . and he stretched another half . . . you would have a giraffe and a half . . . One quality of Silverstein's work is that even though it is often fantastical, it tends to be quite visual. Ask students to draw what they imagine when they read such lines as "If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire" or "Some whatifs crawled inside my ear."

After students have presented their drawings, ask them to write a line or two of their own that continues the passage and matches the flow and style of Silverstein's work. Then have students paraphrase the author's purpose in writing the poem. This is where they will find that though the words of a Silverstein poem are easy enough, the ideas are often difficult to communicate.

WEBSITES

 

 
  • Shel Silverstein

    This entry from the Academy of American Poets includes a biography, bibliography, and samples of Silverstein's poetry.

  • Shel Silverstein.com

    This site includes resources related to Silverstein's poetry for parents and teachers, as well as an area "For Kids Only!"

  • KidsReads.com: Shel Silverstein

    This site includes an easy-to-read biography of the author and analysis of his work.

  • Shel Silverstein Poetry Kit

    HarperCollins, publisher of Silverstein's books, offers a guide to using Silverstein's poetry in the classroom. The guide includes printable sheets for students.

RELATED RESOURCES

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Grades   1 – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Choosing One Word: Summarizing Shel Silverstein’s “Sick”

Students select what they believe to be the most important word in a text that they have read and justify their choice using examples from the text.

 

Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Seuss and Silverstein: Posing Questions, Presenting Points

Students will enjoy this blast from the past as they read the works of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein to analyze the way social issues are addressed in selected works.

 

Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Poetry: A Feast to Form Fluent Readers

Students improve their reading fluency by selecting a poem online to perform in class.