Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Meal-Time Activities: Poetry Placemat “A Dream Deferred”

by: Deborah Pace Rowley
One of my favorite poems is “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes.

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up 
like a raisin in the sun? 
Or fester like a sore-- 
And then run? 
Does it stink like rotten meat? 
Or crust and sugar over-- 
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags 
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

Because the poem is short and contains such vivid images it is a perfect poem to introduce to kids. For this mealtime activity, all you need to do is copy enough placemats for each member of your family using the link below. Then set out some crayons and let family members illustrate the poem during dinner or while you are finishing up preparations for the meal. Family members can illustrate the placemat with pictures that go along with the poem or they can illustrate the placemat with pictures of their own dreams. First, explain what the word “deferred” means. This word means to put off or delay, to set aside for a later date or time.
Here are some discussion questions that you can use as you talk about this poem at the dinner table. What does it mean to defer our dreams? Does the poet think it is a good idea to put off accomplishing our dreams?  What do you think happens when you set aside your dreams? What image would you use to describe a dream that has been set aside? What are some of the dreams that you have right now? What can you do to accomplish your dreams?  How do we keep believing in our dreams even if they take awhile to come true? Would it change your understanding of this poem to know that the poet was black? Langston Hughes lived during a time in the United States when black people did not have many rights. How do you think this affected his writing of the poem? Should only rich people have dreams? Should only white people have dreams? How does God feel about our dreams?

You can print a copy of this Poetry Placemat HERE
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