George Lucas Educational Foundation

"Words are My Friends" by Allen Berg

"Words are My Friends" by Allen Berg

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“Words are my friends,” I replied to Little David’s question. He had asked me why I write poems on the chalkboard everyday… His question had surprised me in a fun philosophical way; I had to pause… and think… about how to answer his from-behind-my-back classroom question that I did not see coming: as I was in my Poeming Zone deep in “Intimate Immensities” first thing in the morning at Mar Vista Elementary School in Santa Cruz, California… That was 35 years ago… I had already become a writer 58 years ago when I was 4 years old and entered kindergarten in Brooklyn, New York… With a pencil in my hand (and an eraser ) I started drawing pictures and writing words; It was fun, pictures and words were my friends way back then… I remember in Miss McGuire’s 2nd grade class discovering the word “unusual”; This was no small event: I couldn’t believe I had found a word that had 3 u’s in it!!! Indeed, this was as the word meant, “Unusual”… I went home after school and told my Mom about it; She too agreed that “Yes Allen, that is Unusual to see a word with 3 u’s in it – Especially since the word IS Unusual.” Life was that way for me ever since I can remember… Luckily as a kid I had plenty of comic books with pictures and words around And my parents always had the New York newspapers at home to discover more and more Words… It’s true, life was pretty amazing for me… Then years later as I became a grown-up, somehow I became a teacher… And of course I wrote poems on the chalkboard everyday in the classroom: For my students’ birthdays, for my students’ names, for students’ prizes, for holidays and celebrations, for phonics fun like alliterations and silly rhymings… Words became stories and stories became books and books became my life… From the 26 letters of the English alphabet, I have led a very amazing and exciting life… And everyday that I breathe, I also write… Words are my friends, and I will share them with you… Now we have begun… July 1, 2011… Welcome… Allen

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Allen Berg's picture
Allen Berg
curriculum and projects learning centers

Dear Colleagues,

I always have ABC posters and picture books in my classroom...
Words are my friends...and words come from the letters of our
English alphabet. I have great respect for letters and words: I use them everyday to be in this world: to think, to feel, to see and say, to write and create... I build words from letters and sometimes I even build letters because I am an artist and craftsman, not unlike my teacher Mr. Mitsumasa Anno from Japan.

His book, "Anno's Alphabet" is among my favorites about letters;
He drew fantastical letters as if from wood to stretch your imagination and to question how things are built; it is an ABC book for Project-Based Learning. I use it also to teach High School Geometry.

And since most ABC posters and books are geared for children, I have included here as well two more ABC posters for doing Yoga with Children, because kinesthetic postures and movements are wonderful for
health and learning, no matter what age you are...

"The ABCs of Yoga for Kids Poster", and
"Let's Make an Alphabet!"
(wonderful colorful drawings depicting kids posed-as-each-letter of the alphabet).

I highly recommend 'designing or constructing or building' your own ABC alphabets in your classroom with your students, that is definitely PBL... :-)


to be continued...

Allen Berg's picture
Allen Berg
curriculum and projects learning centers

Dear Colleagues,

I had just made my own List of 100 Colors, words that describe different colors, but I realized it would be difficult to publish that list here in a short message, so instead I checked online for "colors of lipstick" and found "Maybelline's 659 Shades" in their "Product Explorer" Palette...

This is fun with words and colors, like Plum Wine, Denim Dash, Sapphire Strength, etc. all on one page of visual saturation...

No more boring red, yellow, blue, and beige...

Have fun with your students... and pick another profession of palette colors, like car colors, food colors, fabric colors, etc.

Azure Allen

Allen Berg's picture
Allen Berg
curriculum and projects learning centers

Dear Colleagues,

Since Maybelline colors perhaps slant towards the feminine side of life, here is a list of "Fast and Furious" Guy Cars from the movie series...

These are cool photos of some hot muscle cars, but you'll have to do your own creativity to name and/or describe the colors and model designs etc. But these could easily help in writing a high schooler's story assignment...

"Zero to 60"
by Bobby Bugati (Allen)

Hubert Yee's picture

Hi Allen,

Awesomely creative ideas! Thanks for the inspiration. You're living an amazing life! Love to hear more stories from you.

Allen Berg's picture
Allen Berg
curriculum and projects learning centers

Dear Colleagues,
As mentioned above, I wrote poems for my students everyday on the chalkboard and had my students write their poems on the chalkboard also...

Here is a "Quick Starter" example of some Teacher and Student Name Poems:
A - Acrobatic
L - Licorice
L - Lightening
E - Enthusiasm
N - Nicely

L - Lives
E - Eating
B - Basketballs
R - Rockets
O - On
N - Net

J - Jukes
A - And
M - Mashes
E - Every
S - Score

N - Noodles
I - iTunes
C - Constantly
K - Kookin'
I - Ice Cream

T - Topaz
E - Eyes
R - Razzing
E - Electrick
S - Swift
A - Algebra

P - Pudding
A - Always
Y - Yes
A - Amiga
S - Sister
A - Alma

R - Ready
I - Invitation
C - Captain
A - Adventure
R - Romeo
D - Drives
O - On

R - Reckless
E - Enjoyment
G - Google
G - Gangster
I - iPad
E - Escape


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