Splish Splash


SPLISH SPLASH, poems by Joan Bransfield Graham, illustrated by Steve Scott, Poetry/Picture Book,  Houghton Mifflin, 1994                    ISBN 0-395-70128-7


TEACHER IDEA SHEET--for use with SPLISH SPLASH or water studies in general; many other books could be coordinated with these suggestions.


WATER--Remind students how water can be all three states of matter--a  solid, a liquid, or                            a gas.

CLOUDS--In the March 1994 issue of Creative Classroom, an article on the  "Universal           Solvent" suggests a mini-water cycle experiment.  Use two empty baby food jars, put     4 ml of water in one, invert the other jar on top and tape together at the necks.  Set     in a sunny spot to watch the water disappear, or evaporate.  Placing an ice cube on           top will lower the temperature and make the water reappear, or condense. 

OCEAN--Look at a map or globe.  How many oceans are there?  Which is the largest? About           71% of the earth's surface is water.  The human body is approximately 65-70% water.                This poem is an example of  personification--giving human characteristics to           something which is inanimate.  Let children join hands to create a wave and           dramatize the poem.

CROCODILE TEARS--I had fun making up my own "legend."  There are many animal           legends which attempt to explain why things are the way they are.  Have children           bring in animal legends to share or let them try making up their own.    

WATERFALL--Why doesn't a waterfall fall up?  Talk about gravity and how water flows to           a lower level.  The highest waterfall in the world is in Venezuela--Angel Falls,           named after U.S. pilot Jimmy Angel.

SPRINKLER--There is a lot of alliteration in this poem and a chance for auditory           discrimination. Read the poem and have students listen for just how many s's there are (12, counting the title). As you read each "spray" of words, have your class repeat           after you.  Now try it faster.  Find other examples of alliteration.   

ICE CUBES--I used a lot of crunchy, hard c sounds in this one to convey the sound of ice           cubes.   Ice cubes and Popsicles are solid forms of water because they have a definite           shape--at least until they melt!

POPSICLE--This is a tongue-treat and a tongue-twister.  What are some other tongue-          twisters?  Explain why things freeze.  If you have access to a freezer, pour juice into           ice cube trays, add sticks, and freeze to make your own Popsicles.  

RAIN--Why is rain important?  Floods are caused by too much rain and droughts by not           enough; how does each affect us?  The Diaguitas, a native Chilean people, gather           dead and dried Normata cactus and press thorns into the hollow shafts.  Pebbles           cascading over the thorns create a water sound.  This ancient instrument is still           heard in the music of the Andes.  Rainsticks are played to remind the spirits that           rain is welcome.  Other cultures use rainsticks also.  You can make a very simple           rainstick with a paper towel roll--push in straight pins and wrap with masking tape   to keep the pins in place.  Seal one end with cardboard, add rice, seal the other end,           and cover with construction paper or yarn.  Or try using a mailing tube with nails a           bit shorter than the diameter and fill with lentils or pebbles.  Experiment to hear           how the sounds can vary with different materials. 

BABBLING BROOK--In a way, this is a "found" poem.  I found part of it in the thesaurus           of my computer, when I looked up "babble."  I loved how the words sounded, bumping           up against each other.  They became "babble."  With older children you could discuss           the subtle differences in the meanings. Try to "find" a poem.  

POOL--Objects and people float because they weigh less than the water they displace.            Share the famous story about Archimedes and how he found out the king's crown           wasn't gold.  (Look in Brainstorms and Thunderbolts, a fascinating book, for that    and other great stories of discovery.)  

HAIL--What causes hail, another solid form of water?  Why do things bounce?

DEW--Use a prism or sun-catcher to separate sunlight into the colors of the rainbow:  red,           orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.  What creates colors?

RIVER--Why did civilizations begin around rivers?  What advantages do they offer?  Use a           map or globe to locate some of the world's great rivers. 

STEAM--Water can be a gas when it turns to water vapor.  Discuss what happens when           something boils.

LAKE--Talk about the Great Lakes, man-made and natural lakes, and lakes around the     world.  Are there any special lakes your students remember visiting?

SNOW--What causes snow?  Explain that snowflakes are six-sided, hexagonal, and all           different.  Snow Crystals by W.A. Bentley and W.J.Humphreys(Dover) has 2453           photographs of snowflakes!  To make a snowflake, have children trace a CIRCLE on           a piece of paper.  Cut out.  Fold the CIRCLE in HALF.  Fold this HALF into           THIRDS.  Snipping through the layers, cut out designs on all three sides.  Unfold to           see a lacy snowflake.  Experiment with different textured papers and designs.

POND--What kinds of plants and animals do you find in and around a pond?  How is a           pond different in summer and winter?

SHOWER--Who invented the shower?  Study some other inventions which make use of           water's special properties:  steam engine, water wheel, irrigation.   A metaphor is a     figure of speech, where you say one thing is something else--a  shower is a "private           cloud."  Encourage students to try writing a poem with a metaphor, to see something           in a fresh, original way.

ICICLE--What causes an icicle?  What effect does the sun have on ice?

WAVE--Discuss how waves are created by three things: 1. wind, 2. tides, 3. earthquake.


*Divide students into cooperative learning groups and, using reference books such as the Information Please Almanac and The Guinness Book of World Records, have them devise a Water Quiz for each other.  (i.e.  Where is the rainiest place on earth?  What are the two longest rivers in the world and where are they located?  Name one waterfall and the country where it is found.   On what river did Tom Sawyer travel?)


*Leave an empty fish bowl on your desk with a stack of orange construction paper fish beside it.  Whenever students think of other ways we use water, or, other shapes it can take, they can write their ideas on a fish, put a paper clip on it for a mouth and drop it into the bowl.  At the end of the week, make a fishing pole with a magnet on the end and let them "fish" out all the ideas to share.  You could do this with water conservation ideas, too.


*Take a field trip to your local water treatment facility.

*With younger children the poems could be used to discuss a variety of concepts: up/down, above/below ("make a lake" on a flannel board), hot/cold, big/little, colors. Use the book with students acquiring English, as it is very visual, and the titles describe the picture-poems. 

*The first word that Ann Sullivan was able to teach her pupil, Helen Keller, was "water."


This is just a sampling of  ideas--the tip of the iceberg.  Water is a great theme which can flow through all areas of the curriculum!  And poetry belongs everywhere!


SCIENCE                                     *   April 22 is Earth Day.                                                                                                                                    Water cycle                                                              *   May is Water Awareness Month.

Evaporation/condensation                                        *   June is American Rivers Month.        

Gravity                                                                    *   July is National Parks and

Three states of matter (solid, liquid, gas)                 Recreation Month.


Waves (three causes: wind, earthquake, tides)

Color--dew, a sprinkler, or a waterfall can act like a prism separating white light into the colors of the rainbow:  red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet

Why things float--something weighs less than the water it displaces



Concrete (shape) poetry--see Nov./Dec. '94 issue of Instructor, pages 60 - 61

      See the Sept./Oct. 2000 issue of Creative Classroom, pages 40 & 42                         


Rhyme/slant rhyme/internal rhyme                       

Onomatopoeia                                                         * Learn how to do the "Wave" poem 

Synonyms                                                                in sign language--a poem in the air!

Metaphor/personification                                         *April is National Poetry Month         

Voices: narrative, lyrical, apostrophe, conversation   

Write a water poem that isn't in the book



Oceans of the world/exploration

Great rivers, lakes, waterfalls

Importance of rivers in the developing of civilizations--transportation/trade centers

Sacredness of water in many cultures/creation myths/animal legends which explain why things are the way they are



Geometric shapes                                                                     





HEALTH (PHYSICAL & MENTAL)                       

Importance of water in human body/ history of cleanliness

Why do we cry?  Does it make us feel better?



Name, listen to, or sing some famous songs or pieces of music with some form of water in the title (i.e. SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, FROSTY THE SNOWMAN, OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS, and many classical selections)



View famous paintings featuring water.

Make crocodile puppets from green construction paper or egg cartons.

Create snowflakes.

Construct rainsticks.                                                           1994 Joan Bransfield Graham