Celebrate Spring and the Start of Poetry Month with Bloom Boom!
Written and photographed by April Pulley Sayre
Published in 2019 by Beach Lane Books
“Every spring across the land…Seeds sprout. Stems pop out. Bloom, boom!” So begins the latest photo-illustrated nonfiction poetry book by acclaimed author April Pulley Sayre that celebrates the start of spring and its radiant array of blooms. Alternating between rhythmic couplets and the repeated refrain “Bloom, boom!”, Sayre gently invites readers to take notice of the small details that reveal natural changes all around us. The glossy, vivid photographs mirror the alternating pattern of the print. Close-up shots composed across two panels serve as the background to the couplets followed by double-page spreads of sweeping, colorful landscapes for each repetition of the refrain. Backmatter includes informational text about various “bloom booms” including desert blooms and wildflowers of the woodlands and more information about the blooms featured in each photograph. Simple, yet soulful, Bloom Boom! is a book full of teaching possibilities for poetry reading and writing, plant investigations, student research, nature walks, and photo illustration.
Teaching Ideas and Invitations
Closely Reading the World and the Words. As nature unveils signs that the seasons are changing, head outside with students to closely read the world. Have your students use either low-tech or high-tech tools to record what they notice with clipboards, colored pencils, paper, and/or digital cameras. . Encourage students to notice details they remember from the text, like leaves emerging, plants rising, and buds growing. Support students to also notice the kinds of insects and other creatures that are welcomed back to the world by spring. If available, have students use digital cameras or tablets to capture what they find by zooming in to create close-up images. After closely reading the world, support students to closely reread Bloom Boom! by reading like a writer. What do they notice about her choices with layout? How does she repeat the way the text is spread across the pages? What do they notice about her word choice? Print or project the digital or hand-drawn images students create and add simple descriptions using Sayre’s pages as a mentor text for your own class book or slideshow. (This invitation was adapted from our Raindrops Roll entry.)
From Seed to Flowering Plant: Grow to Know. Bloom Boom! offers readers a concise and poetic introduction to how plants grow from seeds sprouting to flowers forming. Gather a variety of flowering plant seeds to grow in your classroom to support students with the lived experience of tending to a piece of nature and watching it grow over time. Students may have rotating responsibilities that support watering, plant placement for optimal sun, photographic documentation, labeling, and even notifying the community of the plants’ progress. Gather a variety of books that help further explain the seed to plant process and gardening such as: From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons, National Geographic’s Seed to Plant, Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert, The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle, Up in the Garden Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner, and It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden by George Ancona. Incorporate multiple modalities by viewing time-lapse videos such as bean plants forming. You may also want to create a multigenre text set that deepens understanding of this process by reading aloud stories like Frog and Toad’s “The Garden” from Frog and Toad Together for younger students and Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman for upper elementary and middle grade students.
Inquiring Further Into Bloom Booms. As explained in the backmatter, sometimes many flowering plants bloom at once causing a bloom boom. Either from a read aloud or through independent reading, have students gather surprising and interesting facts they find in the backmatter about bloom booms. You may want to scaffold students with targeted questions such as: In what ways does weather impact bloom booms? How do bloom booms vary by geographic region? How do bloom booms impact other wildlife? You may have a local nature center, native plant society, or botanical garden in the area that you can visit or invite in a guest speaker to your class to deepen student understanding and inquiry about bloom booms. See the digital resources below for further reading for students to learn more about bloom booms.
Nature-Inspired Text Set. Gather a collection of books that celebrate nature in myriad ways to spark student adoration of nature through scientific, mathematical, and literary lenses. Some nature-inspired texts we have written about at The Classroom Bookshelf include: Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking by Elin Kelsey, Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell, Outside Your Window: A First Look at Nature by Nicola Davies, and Thank You, Earth by April Pulley Sayre. Use this immersion as a way to spark noticing and wondering for subsequent student research and writing (below).
Research Comes from Noticing and Wondering: Multigenre Writing. Discuss as a class reasons why April Pulley Sayre may have written the book. Visit her website and consider the ways that authors are often inspired by what they observe and wonder about the world. Then, invite students to share their noticings and wonderings about nature in a class Anchor Chart titled I Observe/I Wonder. Use these emerging ideas to support students to research a topic about nature that inspires them using print and online sources. As students shift from researching to writing up what they found, closely read the backmatter as a class to pay attention to how Sayre organized the sections of her information, her use of paragraphing, the value of transitional phrases, and the variety of sentences she uses to share facts while also writing with voice. Pair students’ informational text with their poetry writing about the same topics to demonstrate the power of multigenre writing.
Poetry Writing: Couplets and Alliteration. Writing poetry can be freeing but it can also feel like a mystery to many students. Introduce students to the power of structure and sound in poetry using Bloom Boom! as a mentor text for their own poetry writing. For younger students, you may want to separate lessons on how to write couplets using Sayre’s as a model followed by a lesson on how to write tongue twisters by using alliteration. Invite students to notice how she follows a predictable noun-verb structure that is replicable in their own writing. For older students, you may want to combine these poetic techniques into a single lesson by having them notice and name Sayre’s methods to write their own alliterative couplets inspired by nature or by anything else that captures their imagination.
Wildflower Habitats Disappearing. Explore sites such as Flora and Fauna International and Inside Ecology to learn about the threats to wildflower habitats featured in Bloom Boom! Encourage students to notice what statistics surprise them, the causes of the threats to wildflower habitats, and how people can help. Then, support students to consider what the loss of wildflower habitats means to other species such as bees and butterflies that are featured in Bloom Boom! If plants are the energy house for many other species, what could the loss of wildflower habitats mean for biodiversity? Have students use what they found out to create flyers or posters to hang around the school notifying the community of how they can help through their own small-scale conservation efforts.
Asking Critical Questions: Where Else Do Blooms Hide? Readers from rural communities may more readily recognize the kinds of bloom landscapes featured in Bloom Boom! Students living in suburban and urban environments may have a harder time connecting with the images featured in the book. Discuss with students the book’s focus on bloom booms and why a focus on rural landscapes be prioritized. But, also support them to consider what else could have been done. Support students to consider in what ways they could document where blooms hide in their own communities to offer an alternative Bloom Boom! that features sidewalk flowers, local gardens, windowsill plants, and local flower vendors.
American Horticultural Society
American Public Gardens Association
Botanic Gardens Conservation INternational
US Department of Agriculture Celebrating Wildflowers Site (Wildflower of the Week)
Flora and Fauna International
National Garden Clubs: Urban Gardening
The Garden Club of America
New York Botanical Garden: What’s Beautiful Now
Time-Lapse Bean Seed to Plant Video
Ancona, G. (2013). It’s our garden: From seeds to harvest in a school garden. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
Campbell, S. C. (2014). Mysterious patterns: Finding fractals in nature. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press.
Carle, E. (2009). The tiny seed. New York, NY: Little Simon.
Davies, N. (2012). Outside Your Window: A First Look at Nature. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
Ehlert, L. (2003). Planting a rainbow. Boston, MA: HMH Books for Young Readers.
Fleischman, P. (1997). Seedfolks. New York, NY: Harper.
Gibbons, G. (1991). From seed to plant. New York, NY: Holiday House.
Kelsey, E. (2015). Wild ideas: Let nature inspire your thinking. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Owl Kids Books.
Lobel, A. (1972). Frog and toad together. New York, NY: Harper.
Messner, K. (2017). Up in the garden down in the dirt. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.
National Geographic Readers. (2014). Seed to plant. National Geographic Children’s Books.
Sayre, A. P. (2011). Rah, rah, radishes! A vegetable chant. New York, NY: Beach Lane Books.
Sayre, A.P. (2015). Raindrops roll. New York, NY: Beach Lane Books.
Sayre, A.P. (2018). Thank you, Earth: A love letter to our planet. Greenwillow Books.
Filed under: Picture Books, Poetry, Poetry Picture Books
About Katie Cunningham
Katie is a Professor of Literacy and English Education at Manhattanville College. There she is also the Director of the Advanced Certificate Program in Social and Emotional Learning and Whole Child Education. Her work focuses on children’s literature, joyful literacy methods, and literacy leadership. Katie is the author of Story: Still the Heart of Literacy Learning and co-author of Literacy Leadership in Changing Schools. Her book Start with Joy: Designing Literacy Learning for Student Happiness will be released September 2019. She is passionate about the power of stories to transform lives.
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