This moving poem explores the relationship between humans and elephants
Students will identify a poem’s main idea in this evocative poem about the complex relationship between elephants and humans.
Main idea, interpreting text, author’s purpose, figurative language, mood
This article and lesson support the following standards:
Common Core anchor standards: R.1, R.2, R.4, W.3, SL.1, L.4
TEKS: 3.2, 3.4, 3.6, 3.18b, 3.29, 3.30 mood
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Set a Purpose for Reading (10 minutes)
• First, read the nonfiction and paired text features in this issue.
• Ask: Based on the picture that goes along with the poem, how is this poem related to those articles?
• Read aloud the Main Idea bubble for the class. Talk about how some poems have an important idea. Remind students that the big idea of this poem is related to other articles in the magazine.
• Prompt them to look at the bubbles to the left of the poem. Read them aloud for the class.
• Read the poem for the class or play our audio version.
• Read it again, stopping after every other stanza to explain unfamiliar words and discuss meaning.
• Project or distribute the close-reading and critical-thinking questions and discuss them as a class as students refer to the poem in their magazines.
Close-Reading and Critical-Thinking Questions (15 minutes)
• Who do the hands belong to in this poem? Is it one person? (interpreting text) The hands belong to all humans, not one specific person.
• In the second stanza, the author says that hands “hatch hope.” What does she mean by this? (figurative language) She means that humans create hope for elephants by creating places where they can live safely.
• What is the most important idea of this poem? (main idea) The main idea of the poem is that humans harm elephants but also help them.
• How is this idea shown in “How to Save a Baby Elephant” and “Can Drones Stop Animal Killers?” (connecting texts) In both articles, humans are trying to save animals from the harm being done to them by other humans.
A Moving Lesson
“Same Hands” originally appeared in Storyworks, and a teacher in Illinois named Angie Nesbit had her students model this poem and create their own. To quote Angie herself, “What happened after this assignment was given, no teacher could have planned.” See if you’re as moved as we were by how her lesson turned out.
When determining our poetry selection, we either commission it or choose an existing poem. In the case of “Same Hands,” we reached out to the amazing Irene Latham and asked her to write a poem inspired by the story of Ishanga the orphaned elephant. She gave us something beautiful, and we always treasure these wonderful poems written just for us.
Behind the Scenes With Irene
You’ll find Irene’s vast bibliography of poetry books here. She’s also written novels, including Don’t Feed the Boy, for kids in grades 3-6. Irene hosts a 5-minute video about her inspiration for the book, her research methods, and other behind-the-scenes scoop.
What's In a Name?
In this audio clip, the poet herself tells a quick story about how she got her name.