“Imagination is like an extra boost.”
– Zakariya F., 4th Grade
Synonym Toast Crunch is an anthology of creative writing by the fourth-grade students of PS 90. The title comes from a phrase that the students came to during a lesson on revision midway through the residency as a way to remember the definition of a synonym. The play on words delighted me in the moment and has been stuck in my head ever since. I find that this title captures the joy and willingness to play that these students demonstrated from day one. I am happy to say that I will never look at two different words that share a meaning or the saccharine breakfast cereal the same again.
Over the course of 22 lessons, students honed their innate creativity, spirit, and sense of empathy. They to generated poems, freewrites, rants, recipes, and more, rich with sensory details, similes, metaphors, hyperboles, and personification. They examined the writing if Kwame Dawes, Ted Meyer, Ruth Forman, Tony Cross, and Pablo Neruda. They considered how a recipe for tres leches cake could spark specific and personal how-to guides. They engaged in visual inquiries of Kehinde Wiley portraits and photographs of beaches both near (Coney Island) and far (Thailand) as jumping off points for written work. They brought both attention and intention to revision. The compassion and curiosity students brought to these activities consistently impressed.
This anthology would not have been possible without the energy and commitment of all the teachers. Thank you Ms. Irving, Ms. Quintana, Ms. Solomon, Ms. Boundy, and Mr. Flynn for so immediately welcoming into your classrooms and for fostering spaces where creative risk-taking can thrive. I experienced a culture of educators who display an extraordinary amount of care, intention, and respect for their students, an ethos I saw modeled from the top by Ms. Hawkins. This collection is a testament to what is possible with a committed, collaborative, and inspiring group of educators.
I am immensely grateful to these young writers—the students, the artists—for sharing their spirits in the process of creating their own poetry and prose. And thank you, too, the reader, for listening to the voices of these young scholars and artists. I hope you enjoy the joy, imagination, vigor, and insight captured in their words as much as I do. I am incredibly proud of their work and dedication and forever tickled by the term of my new favorite literary technique: synonym toast crunch.
Jessie Paddock, writer-in-residence
Teachers & Writers Collaborative
by Diana (4th grade)
I am sad.
I am lonely.
I am tall as the sky.
I feel nice when you’re skiing.
I won’t destroy you with my snow.
When people make sounds I laugh.
Sometimes I laugh too much and drop my snow.
I will come to you if you don’t come to me
by Nyla (4th grade)
I’m hot like fire and the sun.
I don’t eat food,
But I can burn it.
I taste bad.
I live in tall rocks.
“Don’t touch me, I’m hot,” I would say.
“I can hurt you.”
I look red.
I burn phones, people, and pets.
I even burn you,
If you look at me.
That’s how bright I am.