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By Shel Silverstein

“I cannot go to school today,”

Said little Peggy Ann McKay.

“I have the measles and the mumps,

A gash, a rash and purple bumps.

My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,

I’m going blind in my right eye.

My tonsils are as big as rocks,

I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox

And there’s one more—that’s seventeen,

And don’t you think my face looks green?

My leg is cut—my eyes are blue—

It might be instamatic flu.

I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,

I’m sure that my left leg is broke—

My hip hurts when I move my chin,

My belly button’s caving in,

My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,

My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.

My nose is cold, my toes are numb.

I have a sliver in my thumb.

My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,

I hardly whisper when I speak.

My tongue is filling up my mouth,

I think my hair is falling out.

My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,

My temperature is one-o-eight.

My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,

There is a hole inside my ear.

I have a hangnail, and my heart is—what?

What’s that? What’s that you say?

You say today is. . .Saturday?

G’bye, I’m going out to play!”

This has always been one of my favourite Shel Silverstein poems. This week I read it to my class and they thought it was so funny, especially because they thought my voices and actions were funny – I mean who listens to a teacher complaining about having to go to school? If I’m being honest, I never really cared for poetry growing up. I never understood it, and really didn’t want to. But then I became a teacher and began to discover all these incredibly funny poets – poets who write meaningful ideas that you can actually understand.

My first introduction to Shel Silversetin was through a book called “The Giving Tree”. If you haven’t heard of this poetic story, search it on YouTube. It’s an amazing story about a tree that gives everything for a little boy that he loves. It also shows us that you don’t have to spend money in order to give something to another.

Okay. Grab some sticky notes and a pencil.

On each sticky note, have your children write down one idea of something that they can give that does not involve spending money – something they already have, something they can do, etc. Create an entire tree out of these ideas. Each morning, pull down a sticky note and have them consciously look for ways to give using that idea. Each evening, discuss what they did during their day to give.

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