Curriculum Connections Page

Language Arts/Music Connection: Like many other poems on this site, 'Happy To Be Me!' uses a variety of techniques to create a rhythm: alliteration, repetition of line lengths, line length patterns, internal rhyming and end rhyming. Have students go on a scavenger hunt to find examples of each of these in the poem. While it might require a quick tongue in some instances, a well-timed pause in others and stress on particular syllables in still others, the poem can be read to a steady one-two-three-four beat and is therefore musical. Challenge students to make the connection. If they can, have students listen to the poem with the beat (other students tapping it out) and without the beat (but with a dramatic and playful tone, stretching out syllables and livening up phrases, instead). Which way do they prefer it.

The poem is divided into sections according to the mood of the tapir (1 -- shame, low self-esteem; 2 -- fantasy/dreaming, pride through imagination; 3 -- pride in self, high self-esteem. Challenge students to suggest a tempo for reading each section that matches the mood. Have them read the poem again (with or without the beat) to reflect the mood by varying the tempo.

And the ultimate challenge... Can you and your students put the poem to music. You don't need to be musicians or able to read and write music - just sing the words! Change the tempo, make a pattern by singing the first line, then repeating and varying the pattern. Try it - you'll like it! And it can be lots of fun. Even if you are not musical yourself, you might find that there are some students in your class who will take the ball and run with it if you just give them the chance. You might even get away without singing one note yourself! But, alas, if need be, you can always pass the activity on to your colleague down the hall, the school music teacher.

Creative Writing Idea: As blatantly as a tapir's trunk protrudes from its face, one line in each of the first three stanzas and in the fifth stanza extends beyond the rest. That's by design - a manipulation of the way the poem is placed on the page to produce a visual cue that connects to the subject of the poem. So, though it may not be as obvious as in other poems in Amazin' Amazon Animals, this poem qualifies as a 'concrete' poem. Sometimes when students write concrete animal poems, they put the words in the shape of the animal. But, if their poems are guess-who poems, as these are, they might need to be more subtle so they don't give away the animals. If your students have written guess-who animal poems (see the Amazin' Amazon Mystery Animal Curriculum Connections page), have them change the poems into concrete poems focusing on one physical characteristic of the animal - or on another physical clue (i.e. where the animal lives, or something, like a car for a jaguar or a tank for a tarantula, that students compared the animal to in their poem.

Note that, besides giving a visual clue, the way the stanzas are placed on the page also gives clues about the poems' mood changes. Discuss this with your students. Where are the words when the tapir is down, dreaming and proud? How could this relate to the meaning/be interpreted?

Happy To Be Me! Writing Activity: In this poem, the tapir eventually comes to accept his different appearance and appreciate who he/she is, mainly because it realizes that all animals are different and that, in its being different, it's also unique. Have students research tapirs in greater depth. An excellent place to start is The Tapir Gallery, which can be found at This site has loads of tapir facts and photos, information on projects in South America that are aimed at saving tapirs and an opportunity to join 'Club Tapir' so you can be a part of the effort.

After your students have done their research, have them write 'Happy To Be Me!' essays in which they imagine they are tapirs and explain why tapirs are 'cool' and why they are happy to be tapirs. Next, have them write 'Happy To Be Me!' essays about themselves, explaining why they, as individuals, are cool and why they are happy to be who they are. If they are so inspired, have them put their essay about themselves in poetic form, using the 'Happy To Be Me!' tapir poem as a model.

Science/Writing Connection: Here's another neat idea: On the Internet, visit 'The ABC's of the   Rainforest' [] . Go to "Rain Forest Animals (N-Z)." One of the 'T' pages is about the tapir. Using this site as a model, assign each student a letter, have them choose and research a corresponding animal or rain forest plant, then have them make up an ABC book with their own drawings of the animals/plants and interesting facts about the animal/plant under the drawing. To keep with the theme, students could choose characteristics of the animal/plant that make it unique. They could then start their caption, "I am a _______. I'm happy to be me because I can/I have ______. When the pages are complete, put them together, make a cover and a title, like 'Happy To Be Me ABC's of the Rain Forest,' and display your book proudly.



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