Reflection Evolutions

Lesson Introduction

Coming of Age…

Coming of age is a young person’s transition from being a child to being an adult. It continues through adolescence. The specific age at which this transition takes place varies between societies, as does the nature of the change. It can be a simple legal convention (turning 18 and being able to vote) or can be part of a ritual or spiritual event.  A few examples in America are Sweet 16s, Quinceañeras, Mitzvahs, hunting trips, adventure journeys. The point is, there is a moment when the young you looks in the mirror and feels like a completely different you!

This change can be gradual or fast, but however it comes, it is not easy. It is the budding of responsibility and choice, the saying goodbye to dolls and tiny cars, the opportunity to sink or swim.  That is what this lesson is about, the reflections that come when it is your turn to step into this new, more mature evolutionary cycle of yourself.

Again, this is about fun, so enjoy yourself. Breathe and relax as you are participating in this writing exercise and watch how much easier it is to do! An open heart equals and open mind.


By Maya Angelou

Shadows on the wall
Noises down the hall
Life doesn’t frighten me at all

Bad dogs barking loud
Big ghosts in a cloud
Life doesn’t frighten me at all

Mean old Mother Goose
Lions on the loose
They don’t frighten me at all

Dragons breathing flame
On my counterpane
That doesn’t frighten me at all.

I go boo
Make them shoo
I make fun
Way they run
I won’t cry
So they fly
I just smile
They go wild

Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

Tough guys fight
All alone at night
Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

Panthers in the park
Strangers in the dark
No, they don’t frighten me at all.

That new classroom where
Boys all pull my hair
(Kissy little girls
With their hair in curls)
They don’t frighten me at all.

Don’t show me frogs and snakes
And listen for my scream,
If I’m afraid at all
It’s only in my dreams.

I’ve got a magic charm
That I keep up my sleeve
I can walk the ocean floor
And never have to breathe.

Life doesn’t frighten me at all
Not at all
Not at all.

Life doesn’t frighten me at all.


I remember hot sticky summers
Under the Laytonville sun
I remember Nanny
Impatiently ringing her bell
I crunched sunflower seeds
Devoured a Butterfinger
Pretending I didn’t hear it
I remember when I couldn’t put it off any more
She always wanted Old Fashioned
Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
I remember looking for the frostbitten carton first
It was always there
I don’t know why
I remember she liked two scoops
From the fresh carton
I remember when she died
I remember my summers weren’t the same anymore
I remember the funeral
The lump in my throat
It was an open casket
I remember my cousins
Kissed her lifeless cold cheeks
I remember I just touched her hands
Because I couldn’t kiss her
I remember being mad at my cousins
Nanny always curled her hair back
That was Nanny
They curled it forward
Making her look like Elvis
She would have cursed them up and down   

Elisha S.
Grade 12, SCHS

Pre-Write:  Word Walls

Brainstorm some favorite memories treats from when you were little – maybe starting from 5 and moving up to your age now. Think of concrete examples, people, colors, landscapes, sounds, smells, tastes, weather, place, times of day, etc.

Write quickly and from the heart. Just list them on a piece of paper — you don’t have to use all of them, but it is good to get your mind moving.

Directions for Writing Your Own Poem

Things to Consider:

Incorporate the images you created already and write a poem about coming of age, using your memory and sensory details to take the reader with you on your journey.

Use details and five senses to bring your memory to life for others as well as yourself.  Use metaphors and similes for the same reason.

Ex: Not just, “I remember when I met my best friend.”

Rather: “I remember when I first met Sasha / she was wearing a dotted red bow / and held out a strawberry muffin / I took it from her hand / and smiled /we’ve been eating lunch together ever since

It’s okay to imagine if you don’t exactly remember. Ex: I don’t remember what clothes I packed in the doll trunk when I was going to run away. I’ll imagine that I had my unicorn onesie with a rainbow yarn tale.


Borrow from one of the examples on this page and use the images and brainstorm above to write a poem about coming of age. 

Start with the line:  “I remember”

or:   “When I was young I thought”

Make sure you title your poem!!

Audio & Video Inspiration

We Real Cool

        The Pool Players.
        Seven at the Golden Shovel.

            We real cool. We   

            Left school. We


            Lurk late. We

            Strike straight. We


            Sing sin. We   

            Thin gin. We


            Jazz June. We   

            Die soon.


Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1963 by Gwendolyn Brooks.

Long Ago Dreams

I remember my Aunt Opal’s tawdry church hat
and how I held it for her when she was singing!
I remember the time I had a weird dream
about me turning into a perfect orange tree.
I remember the first time I went to San Francisco
and thought the Golden Gate Bridge was gold.
I was very disappointed!
I remember when I lied to my mom
about it being pet day.
We didn’t have a pet,
so she bought me a hamster at PETCO.

Kacey C, Grade 9

Declaration of Independence

To understand the art of warfare

Remember the games of your childhood.

Remember the power

In strength and force,

How the winner was king.

Remember the justice

In sticks and stones,

How fight made right.

Remember the glory

In forts and lairs,

How passwords winnowed.

Remember the mercy

In blackmail and bribery,

How silence meant safety.

Remember the victory

In older and bigger,

How small still ruled smaller.

Then, remember that it was only a game.

And that we were only children.

Carmen E, grade 9




Hanging Fire


I am fourteen

and my skin has betrayed me   

the boy I cannot live without   

still sucks his thumb

in secret

how come my knees are

always so ashy

what if I die

before morning

and momma’s in the bedroom   

with the door closed.


I have to learn how to dance   

in time for the next party   

my room is too small for me   

suppose I die before graduation   

they will sing sad melodies   

but finally

tell the truth about me

There is nothing I want to do   

and too much

that has to be done

and momma’s in the bedroom   

with the door closed.


Nobody even stops to think   

about my side of it

I should have been on Math Team   

my marks were better than his   

why do I have to be

the one

wearing braces

I have nothing to wear tomorrow   

will I live long enough

to grow up

and momma’s in the bedroom   

with the door closed.


Audre Lorde, “Hanging Fire” from The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde. Copyright © 1997 by Audre Lorde. Reprinted with the permission of Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.


Memoirs of Mind

I remember Grandma’s Colorado kitchen
the pink shadows of stained glass
floating odd angles into my honey puffs
that lonely mason jar of candied round peas
and square carrots on the counter
year after year, their color never changing
taunting me to toss one in my mouth
and spit it out again

I remember smelling of chlorine
after hours of canon balls and Marco Polo
lungs heaving under the weight
of the dirty Los Angeles sky

I remember the air rushing my face
the Freedom Train flattening
my penny against the hard steel rail

And every Friday

was cleaning day
just mom and me

dad having boys night at the airport
Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza
the Brady Bunch on TV

I remember cream horns on hot black upolstry
I remember calla lilies holding out their hands to me
I remember pomegranate seeds mixed into mud

Blake More