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With My Hands: Poems About Making Things

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For young makers and artists, brief, lively poems illustrated by a NYT  bestselling duo celebrate the pleasures of working with your hands.

Building, baking, folding, drawing, shaping . . . making something with your own hands is a special, personal experience. Taking an idea from your imagination and turning it into something real is satisfying and makes the maker proud.

With My Hands is an inspiring invitation to tap into creativity and enjoy the hands-on energy that comes from making things.

32 pages, Hardcover

Published March 27, 2018

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About the author

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

12 books87 followers
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is author of several poetry books for children including Forest Has a Song, With My Hands, Read! Read! Read!, and Write! Write! Write!. In addition, she is author of picture books Every Day Birds, Dreaming of You, That Missing Feeling, poems in many anthologies, and popular classroom blogs The Poem Farm and Sharing Our Notebooks. Her newest book is If This Bird Had Pockets: A Poem in Your Pocket Day Celebration (March 2022).

Having studied and worked at the Teachers College Writing Project at Columbia University, Amy has been an elementary school teacher and is author of the Heinemann professional book Poems Are Teachers: How Studying Poetry Strengthens Writing in All Genres and co-author, with Lucy Calkins and Stephanie Parsons, of Poetry: Big Thoughts in Small Packages. For 23 years, she has led writing workshops and has taught lessons celebrating the power and joy of words.

Amy lives on an old farm in Holland, NY with her husband, sometimes a child or two, and a handful of sweet pets.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 49 reviews
Profile Image for Laura Mossa.
175 reviews12 followers
March 27, 2018
Special thanks to Amy Ludwig VanDerWater for sending a copy of With My Hands to our #bookexcursion group. All opinions are my own.

While it’s true that “a maker creates something new that never was before,” creativity can come in many forms. Ludwig VanDerwater has written 26 poems celebrating countless ways ideas can come to life with one’s own hands.

What I love about the poems is the reminder that creating is a very personal experience. In Painting, the painter shares that “nobody can tell I’m painting wrong.” In Collage, the carefully chosen scraps torn from photos are a “window to my heart.” Making also teaches perseverance and patience. In Knot, the narrator says while “it is not easy to tie a knot, I am “knot” giving up.” In Soap Carving and Tie Dye Shirt, we are reminded that it takes time to create something, and in Clay, listening is important because the lump of clay will “tell you what it is and what it is not.”

Of course, the very best part about being a maker is that you are forever changed. As Ludwig VanDerwater eloquently writes in the last poem baring the same name as the book title, “I am different because I brought something new to life in my hands.” Fancher’s and Johnson’s illustrations demonstrate a variety of mediums from pencil and paint to collage in their bold yet warm illustrations. The illustrations coupled with the poetry invite all readers to become makers and thinkers by rolling up their sleeves and getting messy!

156 reviews1 follower
February 23, 2018
Love this celebration of creativity through words and ideas. In my opinion, the madness of maker spaces seems to move readers further away from books. It's a must-have for every "maker" bc best spaces and places connect literacy and learning, "making" stronger readers and writers.
Profile Image for Christina Carter.
242 reviews32 followers
May 4, 2018
With My Hands: Poems About Making Things resonated with me so much. It stirred my creative heart and got my brain buzzing and brimming with thoughts and ideas of possibilities unbound.

You’ll have to stick with me for a moment as I share with you how Amy’s book prompted me to think about what Making looks like and means to me in my library media center.

The library to me has always been a launch pad for possibility. Wondering about and discovering the world around us through books, research, and the exploration of curiosity through play, hands-on activity, and constructing something new. In our K-5 library, I continue to work at creating an environment that sparks creativity. We read, enjoy, and study the craft of many authors and illustrators and leave space for every class that comes through our doors to be an illustrator, a writer, or a maker of comics. To make. To do. To create. I believe our students can do anything and everything imaginable and I count it a privilege to play any part in being a springboard, that gentle nudge, or that voice that whispers, “you can do it.” It is a big part of why I love what I do.

It is that bravery to dream big, bold dreams, that motivates me and my colleagues every day. The joy that it brings to see the stars shine bright, as a twinkling in our students’ eyes, as they learn, grow, and discover their gifts and talents.

I too am a dreamer as I continue to learn and grow with my family. I am a maker as I unwind from the cares of the day and chop and prep and cook the most delicious meal for my family. I am a maker when I put pen to pad and scratch out the words that flow from my heart as I write. My husband is a maker and tinkerer when he builds and repairs and repurposes things and stuff and then more stuff and things into new nightstands and workbenches. I am always impressed.

There is just something so rewarding about making. It is the stuff dreams are made of...I think. Dreams realized. The magic of it all makes me smile.

This book took me by surprise. It’s not just a book of poems. It’s page after page of living, breathing inspiration and the fuel to fan the flames of creativity. It is a book that was already on my radar. I’d already had a copy of it on my book order for next school year. After reading it, I will go ahead and quickly add more copies to my order.

With My Hands Poems About Making Things by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater With My Hands: Poems About Making Things

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Profile Image for Becky.
5,207 reviews103 followers
March 16, 2018
First sentence: I am a maker.

Premise/plot: With My Hands is a themed collection of poems by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. The theme of the collection is "making things." What kinds of things? All sorts. Not just artsy things like drawings, paintings, cards, and collages. But all sorts. For example, I wasn't expecting a poem about soap carving or making shadow puppets on the wall! I think there is enough variety to inspire and encourage every young reader to say I want to try that!

My thoughts: I enjoyed this collection very much. It celebrates creativity in all its forms. And it captures the joy of play and creation. I had a few favorite poems in this one. I thought "Card" was a sweet poem celebrating a child's love for his/her dad. (The poem is written in first person. The speaker could be a girl or a boy. But the illustration is of a boy.) But my favorite poem is "Mess."


Yes. It's a mess.

Do not let it distress you.

I'm making a project

that might just impress you.

Projects are messy--
all makers agree.

And the messiest maker

of projects is....me.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that poem because it is so me.

I think this book would pair well with Peter Reynold's Happy Dreamer.

Profile Image for Amber Webb.
729 reviews12 followers
April 28, 2018
Our classroom LOVED "With My Hands" by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. We used this book as a standby for poetry month in April. We made sure to read at least one poem from the book each day. It often inspired work and activity in the classroom. When a book can inspire learning and development, it is gold standard. Each poem presented opportunities! This is an excellent classroom book to inspire art, creativity and STEM.
Profile Image for Alex Simon.
6 reviews
March 28, 2022
(POETRY) With my Hands: Poems About Making Things shares a collection of short poems about different forms of creativity and talks about the excitement and satisfaction each one brings. The first poem talks about being a maker and creating new things. It talks about what a maker does and is a great start to this book getting kids in the mindset that they are a creator. It goes on to have poems about making: painting, clay, birdhouse, parachute, boat, card, knot, soap carving, tie-dye shirt, collage, pinata, glitter picture, mess, spaceship, sock puppet, drawing, leaf picture, dort, origami, cookies, snowman, knitting, snowflakes, shadow show. As you can see, the poems are about very unique things that you would not see students making every day. The last poem is called “With My Hands” and it talks about how when you make something new with your hands, it becomes a part of you forever, it makes you different, and it changes you. This book of poems is also filled with images that represent each creation in each poem.

This book's genre is a poem. I think it is appropriate for grade K-2. I think it is appropriate to read aloud to students because students can ask questions and the teacher can lead a discussion around this idea of “making things” and using the poems to inspire students. I also think students can read this book independently because they can read to find what inspires them as they read it. When reading independently sometimes things stick out more and students may be inspired. I think it is also appropriate for students who can’t read yet to “read” independently because there are such amazing pictures in this book and they can just look at all the “creations” and just be inspired by the pictures alone.

One way I could use this book in the classroom is to create a positive mindset for students. My thinking is having a theme for the week on “I am a maker” and throughout the week in morning meetings reading 2-3 poems a day and just discussing them and encouraging students to be creative and a maker and talk to them about how special everything they create is. Another way I can see myself using this book in my future classroom is to help launch a STEM activity. When I first read through all these poems there was one about a parachute. It was very short and sweet but just showed that anyone can create a parachute. We did a STEM activity in our engineering class last semester when we used different materials to create a parachute. I think in an elementary setting if we were to do a STEM activity like this we could launch it by reading this poem and getting students excited about creating them. This can go for any kind of STEM activity. It shows students that with a little creativity and their hands they can create anything.

I think it is an inspiring book for kids to hear. I think this kind of book changes up the past and is something different for students to hear. Students do not read poetry very often and so I think this is a great way to incorporate poetry into the classroom. I definitely think it should be introduced into the elementary classroom because I think it gets students excited about poetry and excited about making things. It will help them to see all the amazing things that they can create and I love the uniqueness of the book. It talks about making things that some kids would never think of making and it overall just show kids that they can be a maker if they put their minds to it.
Profile Image for Jana.
2,591 reviews37 followers
August 23, 2018
The beginning of a new school year is a time when everyone has a fresh start to try new things. This book of poems really celebrates the maker and artist in everyone, whether or not you consider yourself to be an artist. After reading this poems about making all sorts of things: boats, tie-dye shirts, messes, leaf pictures, forts, and cookies, I realized that even if I don't consider myself to be artsy, I have made many items in this book. The collage-style illustrations pop off the page and really help readers consider the possibilities of their next project! This would be great inspiration to have on any bookshelf!
5 reviews2 followers
July 12, 2018
Reading this gem from my #bookposse reading group was even more enjoyable as I read it aloud with my super creator son age 6. I love how this book of poems takes on a STEAM theme. It reinforces the creations children make and gives them ideas for new things too. Beautiful illustrations mean that you linger on a page talking about the depictions. Great for your already creative kids and then ones looking for a little inspiration.
Profile Image for Suebee.
611 reviews12 followers
July 9, 2018
Wonderful! A great addition to any school library with a makerspace or schools with STEM classes.
Profile Image for Elisabeth.
4 reviews1 follower
July 2, 2018
A must for any elementary library especially those with a makerspace. The poems capture the very spirit and importance of making, tinkering, and creating. Each poem dedicated to a different maker idea provides inspiration for creating something new. I look forward to using this book frequently with my students in the library this school year.
Profile Image for Ro Menendez.
565 reviews20 followers
March 31, 2018
An ode to Making and Makers! Each poem in this book is a young creator's gem! 25 poems celebrate making with paper mâché, paint, recycled materials, yarn, paper, soap, plastic, and more! The poems capture the excitement and hope that creators experience as they set out to make. Two poems in particular tugged at my heart; the first one "Card", which beautifully expresses why handmade gifts are truly precious., I will make sure I share with our library readers and makers, as it’s important to be able to read, see spelled out, what goes on in a maker’s head when he or she creates with the purpose of giving, and for all the receivers of handmade gifts to understand as well. The second poem that tugged at my heart, "With My Hands", which explores how making something changes you as a creator, could become a Makers' Proclamation! I am excited to start maker projects with a poem, and while reading the poems in this book, I even added ideas to what I can offer during Maker Mondays! Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson's picture are a source of inspiration for makers as well, they use fingerprints in beautiful ways, collages, and cut paper that beg to be tried, and the makers themselves represent children of many races, which will allow makers and readers to find themselves in the poems. One final element that made some of the poems seem kinetic, was the use of visual poetry; for example, verses for "Knitting" were positioned to remind the reader of how the stitches of a sweater might be knitted and the words in "Glitter Picture" are positioned the way glitter falls which is all over the place! A valuable addition to art classes, libraries, and makerspaces, for every young creator to be inspired, validated, and represented!
Profile Image for Linda .
3,707 reviews42 followers
April 9, 2018
I'd like to celebrate Amy's new book, With My Hands: Poems About Making Things. More than once I have wished I was teaching again. My school's philosophy was built on a few concepts including the learning that comes from making things. I am grateful for the joy of having two young granddaughters near who visit often, ready to create!
Amy defines what a maker is in the first poem, "Maker": he or she "is a tinkerer, a maker will explore./A maker creates/something new/that/never/was/before" and adds many poems about the wide varieties of making like painting, knitting, glitter pictures and creating with clay. Readers can use each page as inspiration OR read the poems and re-visit what is most loved and "make something".
Will you make "Leaf Pictures" where the "leaves look like stained glass" or bake "Cookies" and "resemble/clouds of flour"? The poem forms vary from rhyme to free-verse, list and shape poems. I'm sure many will run for the needles and the yarn when they read "And as my fingers/twisty-twirl/each stitch into/a knit or purl." or will beg someone to teach them!
Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson MAKE their delightful multi-media illustrations from Amy's words and each becomes the "project" Amy describes. Take a close look at the title and you will want to open the book to see "wood projects and quilts and paintings and glue and scissors and. . .
Amy, too, is a maker but of poems, and this book is her sharing of what can be! Everyone should have a copy, old or young, in school or out. I believe Amy wants us all to MAKE something!
14 reviews
March 12, 2022
Such a fun poetry book about making things with your hands. This book gives a plethora of ideas that are simple to do with your students, while sharing wonderful poetry. Even the way the poetry is set up on some of the pages is something to be studied/questioned/discussed. I’ve loved using this with my 1-4th graders.
19 reviews
December 9, 2022
With My Hands: Poem About Making Things by: Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is a picture book of short children's poems. This book was published March 2018. The genre of this book is poetry. This book is intended for children between the ages of three and seven.( preschool to third grade). This book is a book that inspires children through poetry on how to use your hands to be creative. This book encourages young children to be makers, painters, soap, sculptures, knots builders and so on through the use of their hands in a fun and imaginative way. It allows children to identify familiar objects or even things they are unfamiliar they can use with their hands for. I did not get to finish all the poems in this book with my students, but some were able to make connections and others were able to express how it would feel to experience exploring somethings they never experienced. One thing I did l like is how some of my students could identify that these poems may not have had a setting or main characters. They did expressed that poems did not tell you a setting or characters. They are aware fore the age group it's intended for that their is another style of writing thing just story base. I can say I gave this book five star because that this book teaches children creative ways to poetry how to use their hands to tap into their imagination and creativity. For some students they enjoyed the humor and rhyming words that they thought were funny even though there were not many as most poems. one thing they enjoyed the most were the illustrations.
Profile Image for Michelle.
Author 3 books30 followers
April 22, 2018
With My Hands is a collection of poems about making things. It's about the personal experience of building, baking, folding, drawing, shaping... starting from scratch with "empty space, ideas, hope and stuff" and creating something new "that never was before." Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson's joyful, collage-style illustrations help bring VanDerwater's words to life.

Among VanDerwater's many gifts as a writer, probably the one that impresses me most is her ability to tap into her inner 7-year-old while simultaneously presenting a safe and accepting place for young readers. She's a lot like Mr. Rogers in that regard. It's a quality that comes from unconditional love and writing from the heart. For young readers, her voice is as familiar as it is nurturing, providing children with the confidence to grow into themselves.
Profile Image for Christine Turner.
3,563 reviews47 followers
August 3, 2020
Building, baking, folding, drawing, shaping . . . making something with your own hands is a special, personal experience. Taking an idea from your imagination and turning it into something real is satisfying and makes the maker proud.

Maker -- Painting -- Clay -- Birdhouse -- Parachute -- Boat -- Card -- Knot -- Soap carving -- Tie-dye shirt -- Collage -- Pinata -- Glitter picture -- Mess -- Spaceship -- Sock puppet -- Drawing -- Leaf pictures -- Fort -- Origami -- Cookies -- Snowman -- Knitting -- Snowflakes -- Shadow show -- With my hands.

Reading Level: 530L Lexile
Decoding demand: 60 (medium) Semantic demand: 82 (very high) Syntactic demand: 65 (high) Structure demand: 84 (very high) Lexile
Profile Image for Laura Shovan.
Author 11 books137 followers
June 17, 2018
The paper snowflake poem is my favorite in this beautiful book about the joy of making things -- simply brilliant.
49 reviews1 follower
December 6, 2021
The book provides a number of poems that are all relating to the theme of "making something." "Painting, Spaceships, Leaf pictures, and more" are a few of the titles that are amongst the crafty-themed poems and the artistic activities in mention are not only for children, but can be for adults as well. Activities such as drawing, origami, snowmen, and more are ones that possibly all ages can relate to in their current lives.
The writing specifically appears to have a similar voice throughout the book, as there is only one author that is stated to have written the book; however, there are slight shifts in mood and different structures presented for different poems. Poems like "Tie-Dye Shirt" and "Parachute" convey a more comical approach, while poems like "Painting," dive and expand a bit deeper into the art of making. A commonality that most poems appear to have, with the exception of two to three, is the utilization of end rhymes. There may a specific technique/structure that the author utilizes when placing rhymes within the poems; however, the ending rhymes appear to be placed almost where they can without completely forcing the rhymes. The writing, overall appears playful, yet appears to be meant to push the notion of empowerment. However, true empowerment comes from the One True Maker in Heaven who made us and has given us the gift of creativity and motivates and invites us to take part in what He creates.
In regard to the illustrations, the art work appears to use various forms of design to create the textured images. Collage, watercolor, and possibly colored pencil appear to be utilized to create the realistic and abstract qualities within the book. The painting of the boy that is paired with the "Glitter Picture" poem brings out the child-like simplicity that is apart of the poem as the boy is shown with his eyes barely open, arm bent out, and decorated with bits of paint enhancing the glee and excitement of creating. Other images also help complement and sometimes bring out specific lines within the poem, possibly allowing the poem to take on a different meaning, rather than if the poem were read with out the accompaniment of its illustration. Overall, the poetry books appears to evoke exploration and seeks to push a more (obvious) poetic take on the ability we've been given to make.
Profile Image for Donna Merritt.
Author 23 books62 followers
April 30, 2018
As a school librarian, my vision statement is: "Every student is a reader, an information seeker, a thinker, a tinkerer, and a lifelong learner." As such, they are MAKERS who engage in makerspaces. Makerspaces are hands-on activities that promote cooperation, motivate students to figure things out, and decrease stress.

So, you can imagine my delight in discovering Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's new book of children's poems.

Today's child grows up surrounded by technology. Think back to days of creating our own fun instead of relying on a screen to provide entertainment. Amy includes everything from thumbprint pictures, clay, and cookies to sock puppets, forts, and shadow shows—and more. It made me a bit nostalgic, but for children now, these ideas may be novel!

"Maker" begins the collection and sets the inventive tone. The poems that follow are of various forms, breaking the book up nicely as it moves along. (The layout of "Knitting" caught my eye in particular!) The clever collages of the Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson illustrator team are the perfect pairing for these energetic, imaginative poems.

Adding this one to our elementary school library immediately.
Profile Image for Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*.
6,001 reviews185 followers
March 23, 2018
VanDerwater, Amy Ludwig With My Hands: Poems About Making Things, pictures by Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson. PICTURE BOOK. Clarion (Houghton), 2018. $18. 9780544313408.

VanDerwater uses a wide variety of poetry styles to celebrate an array of creative arts and STEM activities.

I enjoy the short, pithy poems the best, but each poem would be a great launch for an exploration activity. The illustrations add vibrancy and whimsy to the poems and inspiration for inventions and play. A good fit for school and home.

Pre-K, EL (K-3), EL – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher
2 reviews4 followers
March 18, 2018
Wow! 'With my Hands' is Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's about to be released, amazing collection of poems about making things. It will speak to all the artists, creatives, tinkerers & engine-nerds out there! Each poem is an invitation to create & the illustrations by Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson add a wonderful vibrancy.
All credit to Amy for reaching those with (STEM) connections who are rarely included in this beautiful genre. This book is a 'must have' for teachers & parents of creative children.

Helen Casserly
Reading Specialist
Rochester, NY
Profile Image for Rebecca.
229 reviews3 followers
September 9, 2018
Thanks to Amy Ludwig VanDerwater for sharing a copy of With My Hands with #BookPosse! The poems are all about things to do in ones makerspace. Whether painting, creating origami, making spaceships or snowflakes, it can all be done in your own space! I can think of quite a few teachers I’ll be recommending this to but anyone can take these ideas and create anywhere! The poems are a perfect example of creating the way you want. They are done in different types and shapes. A great addition to any classroom or home!
Profile Image for Pam.
1,594 reviews
June 5, 2019
I love the poems and the bright colorful illustrations, but... most of the examples of making things were conventional kid related art projects. There are so many different ways people can make things with their hands. I wanted it to be broader in its scope to let all children identify with at least one poem in the book. Perhaps gardening, building a bird house with Grandpa, making a cake... There are so many different jobs and hobbies related to making things that could have been included. I didn't want it to be longer just to cover a greater diversity of interests.
40 reviews
March 29, 2021
In this book of poems, the illustrator adds a creative touch with all the different drawings/paintings. Each page is unique, which adds to the idea that making things with your hands is special, creative and unique. It is important for students to learn about poems, so this book would be a great tool to use in class that would generate ideas for students to create things or maybe even write their own poem about something they've already created.
Profile Image for Debra.
579 reviews
October 9, 2022
Poems about making things throughout from painting to construction projects this book defines what it means to be a maker! The illustrations by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson exude the joy of creating things from origami to snowflakes and knitting to baking. This is a lovely addition to any elementary poetry collection!

Thank you, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, for the perfect collection to use when we are working on creating things for the joy of creating!
Profile Image for Paul  Hankins.
770 reviews277 followers
January 14, 2018
We'll share a review of this collection a little closer to the book's publication date. I just wanted to make sure that this new collection of poems by my maker-friend, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. It's a special collection that must be in every maker space around the world. No maker space? No worries. That maker space can be as local and small as the first reader with whom you share this book.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 49 reviews

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