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Contemporary Ohio Poets Extension Activities:

Nikki Giovanni's poem "Legacies" explores the complicated relationship between generations and the sharing of traditions or legacies that are handed down from person to person within a family. To build on this idea, this activity suggests an event in which students and their parents or caregivers share stories of the legacies that have been handed down within their own families.

Getting Started

Lesson Objectives
After completing this activity, students will be able to:

  • Write a poem

Grade Level Indicators
In meeting the lesson objectives, students will:

H. Use available technology to compose text

Time Required
This type of event would probably require approximately 30 minutes for preparation (student and teacher time) and 60-90 minutes for the event itself.

Resources Needed
Refreshments and/or decorations (optional)


After you teach Nikki Giovanni's poem "Legacies," consider hosting an event in which students' grandparents, parents, or other adult caregivers can discuss their own legacies.

To ensure the most meaningful and time-efficient program, send a note home with each student asking the adults to prepare in advance by writing scripts for their stories, drafting note cards, or practicing their presentations with the students. Adults should plan to speak for roughly three minutes.

Students should hear the legacy story before the event so that they can write a poem that responds to the story. Each student will read his or her poem after the adult shares the legacy story on which the poem is based.

You may wish to decorate the space with old photographs or other memorabilia. This could be something that you provide or that students bring in. Such decorations are especially meaningful when they relate to the idea of legacies or to the specific legacies that will be discussed. Be sure to tell students to ask adults for permission before they bring any items to school. Adults should be prepared to take the items home with them after the event.

The event, which can be held during the school day or in the evening, should begin with a reading of Giovanni's poem "Legacies." Depending on the number of participants, consider dividing them into several small groups. Try to limit the presentations to a total of one hour. You may wish to provide refreshments and allow time for families and friends to stay and meet one another after the event. They may be eager to talk about the legacy stories that were shared.

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