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Hope you have had a good half term holiday!


I hope you have had  a great week off. It seems ages since I have done my blog. Sorry about that, but I was ill the week before half term and am just getting back to old self. It was a shame because I had been doing lots of work on poetry and was really eager to share some of the things that I had been doing over the last few weeks. In my experience teachers either love or hate poetry. I see it as the marmite of the literacy world!

Marmite love or hate

I LOVE using poetry with children and have found that I can really get them to play with language  and take risks with ideas. The secret is to find really good poems to use as a model and then use these to help children scaffold their own ideas. I have lots of poetry books that I regularly dip into and try to use a wide range of poets to inspire children. They range from John Agard to Benjamin Zephania and from the nonsense poems of Spike Milligan to the thought provoking images within Wilfred Owen’s moving war poetry. I believe that children should experience poetry regularly and enjoy the wealth of amazing poetry that is out there! Here are a few of the books on my bookshelf.

I think Paul Cookson, who is a very good poet in his own write and a great performer (if you ever get to see him, you will have an aching face after smiling too much), is brilliant at finding really good poems. He has chosen lots of the poems in THE WORKS poetry books. I have a number of them  and can always find great poems to dip into!



The new Literacy Curriculum has a number of references to the teaching of poetry and there is a real emphasis on the performance of learnt poetry. It is vital then, that we find really good poetry to teach our pupils and it would be foolish not to then use these models to scaffold their writing. Our book shelves need to be full of wonderful verses that children will want to learn:





Children need to hear wonderful poets too reading their poems. I believe that all children should hear Michael Rosen reading ‘We are going on a bear hunt or the delicious and mouth watering  ‘Chocolate Cake’ or Murray Lachlan Young’s peforming a very silly poem called  ‘Don’t’ or tp:// or his modern cautionary tale about ‘Annie McClue’

If you struggle to find poems to inspire your lessons or can’t think of an innovative way to teach the sessions, have a look at Pie Corbett‘s book Jumpstart Poetry or a very old book that I have been using for over 25 years called ‘To Rhyme or not to rhyme’ by Sandy Brownjohn. Both are great for ideas.



I have recently spent two days in St Augustines Primary School in Salford working throughout the school delivering poetry workshops. We had great fun with the Early Years focusing on acting out simple poems, such as Penguin Parade:

Penguin Parade

Waddle, waddle, waddle
From side to side
Penguins go a-walking
Slip, slip, slide, slide.
With a funny jump
The penguins dash
Down to the water
Splash! Splash! Splash! Splash!
Waddle from the water
With a rock n’ roll
Penguins go parading
On a wintry stroll.

We then wrote our own poem describing how different birds might move after watching different birds on you tube such as dancing flamingos and then just writing very simple lines of description eg. Pink flamingos dancing on their toes.                                                                                                      Heads held high                                                                                                                                                Like ballet dancers

Year 1 pupils wrote a narrative poem based on Chocolate Cake by Michael Rosen and we then ate chocolate buttons and imagined what it would have been like to creep through the house to find the hidden box of chocolates. Year 2 wrote our own version of Ten things found in a  Wizard’s pocket

A dark night.
Some words that nobody could ever spell.
A glass of water full to the top.
A large elephant.
A vest made from spider’s webs.
A handkerchief the size of a car park.
A bill from the wand shop.
A bucket full of stars and planets, to mix with the
dark night.
A bag of magic mints you can suck for ever.
A snoring rabbit.
Ian McMillan

Our version was about 10 things we would find in Willy Wonka’s hat! I brought a top hat with lots of different sorts of chocolate in it and then the more able pupils worked on their own poems and the less able worked in a group with myself or the class teacher. Here is what they wrote:


Year 3 also did chocolate poetry, Year 4 created concrete poems and Year 5 produced metaphor poems, but I will share those with you next week. I wanted to tell you about the Year 6 pupils who spent a lesson worked on War Poetry based on the evocative picture book The Rabbits by Shaun Tan:


We looked at the image below and discussed what we felt was happening and how the characters felt. We then re-enacted the scene and collected our ideas to explore the emotions:


War poetry 002



War poetry 007



War poetry 005

If I had more time we would have listened to Kenneth Branagh reading Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen.


The pupils then had the rest of the session to construct their own poems using the page about fear from Descriptosaurus to help them construct their lines. Here are a few that they produced. They were so focused and spent time thinking about how each line flowed into each other. They emailed me some of their finished work and I was really impressed by their thoughtfulness and care with the language and ideas they used!

War poetry 025 War poetry 024 War poetry 022 War poetry 019 War poetry 015 War poetry 014 War poetry 012

 We are going to have a poetry training day on Friday 23rd May at Madeleine Lindley and I am going make it a very practical day full of lots of different sorts of poems and poets. It would be great to see you there as I hope to Bring Poetry to Life!

I hope you have a great first week back.

Keep smiling,  Dawn


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