Friday, March 25, 2011

Poetry Friday: What Color Day Are You Having?

Read It. Move It. Share It. 
This is the third post in my collaboration with independent dance educator Maria Hanley from Maria's Movers. Each month I recommend a picture book for Maria to incorporate into her creative movement classes, and then we both share our experiences with the book. You can read Maria's post for today here.

This month, Maria and I explored My Many Colored Dayswritten by the late great Dr. Seuss (aka Theodor Seuss Geisel). I know I'm supposed to be recommending picture books for Maria to try, but Maria actually recommended this book to me...well, at least in a roundabout sort of way.  

Maria hadn't read the book herself, but she asked me a while back if I had heard of it. (She knew about it from a friend of hers, who had apparently been using it in her own creative movement classes.) Even though I have loved Dr. Seuss books for as long as I can remember, I had to admit that I wasn't familiar with this one, so I rushed off to the library to find a copy. And then I "recommended" it right back to Maria because it was so delightful.

My Many Colored Days is not your typical Dr. Seuss book. Yes, it is written in rhyme. And yes, it has a wonderfully playful quality to it, just like the other Dr. Seuss books so many of us love, like Hop on Pop and Green Eggs and Ham. But what is so striking about this book is the fact that it is illustrated by someone--or in this case "someones"--other than Dr. Seuss.

Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher have created the most wonderfully bright and abstract paintings to go along with the book's simple text, which explores different moods in the context of color. There is essentially no white space in the book, so the colors just burst off the pages. The illustrations also take the text one step further, transforming readers from human beings into different animals as they experience the variety of emotions represented in the book.

So why recommend this book for a creative movement class? Well, first of all, it includes a lot of actual movement words--like kick, flap, drag, and jump--that children can have fun exploring. It's also full of words that inspire movement--like slow, low, and busy. And, the book gives children plenty of fuel for interpreting different emotions through both movement and sound. 

On Bright Red Days how good it feels 
to be a horse and kick my heels. 

Some days, of course, feel sort of Brown. 
Then I feel slow and low, low down.

Then come my Black Days. Mad. And loud. 
I howl. I growl at every cloud. 

From the little experience I've had teaching creative movement for three- and four-year-olds (and the lots of experience I've had dealing with my own kids), I know it can be quite difficult to calm them down, especially after so much stimulation. So, luckily, the book also contains some opportunities for stillness. 

Green Days. Deep deep in the sea. 
Cool and quiet fish. That's me.

Gray Day...Everything is gray. 
I watch. But nothing moves today.

It's been a long and busy week for me, with lots of late nights, so I'm pretty worn out. The week is winding down, and all I feel like doing is sitting back and relaxing. I think I'm having a Gray Day. How about you? What color day are you having?

Don't forget to check out Maria's Movers to see how Maria used this book in her creative movement classes. You can also read today's Poetry Friday roundup aA Year of ReadingHappy Friday!

UPDATE: After writing this post, I found out from elementary school dance teacher Rachel Frasier that you can purchase a kit that includes a My Many Colored Days board book, scarves that coordinate with the colors in the book, and a CD with musical selections for the different moods. A ready-made creative movement class. Thanks, Rachel!


  1. My day today is FULL of colors! That's the joy of creating the Poetry Friday roundup -- I spend the day looking at books and poems and the world through a bunch of different perspectives and lenses! Fun stuff! Thanks for joining in!

  2. Hi, Mary Lee. I am glad you are having such a colorful day! I have a "feeling" mine will brighten up as soon as I start reading all the Poetry Friday posts, too!

  3. I did a unit using "My Many Colored Days" with my kindergarten and 1st grade elective last quarter. They LOVED the book (one of the 1st grade boys ran to the book shelf every day, pulled the book, and asked if we could dance it again). Just so you know - you can get a kit that includes the book, various colored scarves, and a CD of music selections that match the moods for each color. I love it!

  4. Hi, Rachel. Thanks for sharing your story. This book seems very popular for dance classes. I had no idea, and am so glad I found out about it. I didn't know you could get a kit with scarves and music. That is so great! I just found it on Amazon and will add the link to my post. Thanks for letting us know!!

  5. Hi, Kerry. My children loved this book when they were little. I use a similar concept in my elementary school poetry workshops -- the students write similes for their feelings in the form of animals.

  6. Hi, Laura. That sounds really neat. It's amazing how many similarities there are between poetry (or writing in general) and dance. Very similar processes sometimes!

  7. What great comments on this book! Thank you to Rachel for pointing out the activity kit!

  8. Thank you for participating in Book Talk Tuesday!! I have a new perspective on this book now- integrating movement into my kindergarten storytimes!

  9. Hi, Kelly. Yeah!! Glad to hear you might try integrating movement into kindergarten story times. I'd love to hear how it goes, if you do!

  10. So glad you mentioned this book. I just found it a couple weeks ago & used it in 2 classes -- one where we were exploring different kinds of energy (and we added scarves...) & the other where we were showing emotions in dance. In both cases, the book was a great jumping-off place for creating movement! Meg

  11. I love My Many Colored Days! This would be a great book for a creative movement class! I'm seeing this book in a whole new light.

  12. That is neat timing. I'm so glad the book worked in both of your classes. Let me know if there are other books you love to use in class, and maybe I can highlight one of them on the blog. Thanks for stopping by!

  13. Hi, Amy. This book is apparently very popular, so I can hardly believe I hadn't heard of it until now. So glad I did!

  14. We love what you are doing in honor of Poetry Friday! Check out what LitWorld is doing in honor of Poetry Month!

  15. Thanks, Ruby! I love Poetry Fridays. So glad it is Poetry Month, too. Thanks for letting me know what LitWorld is up to. I'll check it out!

  16. I really like this book a lot, and I know it makes me a pariah, but it is the only Dr. Seuss book I can actually stand!
    Thanks for visiting my blog!

  17. Thanks for stopping by. I found you through Book Sharing Monday (which I also recently discovered) and hope we connect again. This Dr. Seuss book is different, isn't it? Very far from his other works :)


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