Poetry Course Second Part

It’s been a while since I put details of home ed stuff up here.

We’ve been busy with our various clubs and home activities, but I am very behind in blogging about them. So, I thought that I would try and get back into the habit.

Some time ago, I began describing the Poetry Course that I ran for our home ed group. I only put the first session up here. Here are the remaining five sessions.

We had a lot of fun together, and all the children made great progress in understanding rhythm and rhyme.

Week Two – Rhythm

Arrival Activity Give out syllable cards set one syllablecards1, ask the children to arrange the syllables in groups of three to make up names for monsters. They can draw their syllable monsters.

Introduction Last week we learnt about rhyme and listened for it in poems. This week we are going to listen for the rhythm of poems.

If you look at page 9, you should see ‘Jack be Nimble’ at the top and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ at the bottom. Would anyone like to read these to us? One has a faster rhythm than the other, which do you think it is?

Does anyone think that they could clap the rhythm of ‘Jack be Nimble’? Can anyone clap the rhythm of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’?

In groups, look at pages 5, 6, 7 and 8; choose two rhymes that you all know, then one person claps the rhythm of one of the two rhymes and the other person has to guess which one they are clapping.

Dividing words into syllables can be tricky. So, don’t worry if you aren’t absolutely sure right away, with a bit of practice, it won’t seem so strange.

It’s obvious that some words are short (like ‘hat’ and ‘pig’) and other words are longer (like ‘beautiful’ and ‘extravagant’). The cards that I gave you each had one syllable on, when you put three in a line you made a monster name with three syllables.

Let’s have a go at counting some syllables together.

Give out lots of cards with syllables on syllablecards2 and ask the children to build some real words. See if each table can build a one syllable word, a two syllable word and a three syllable word. Then feed back the words and see if all the tables found the same ones.

Regroup Ask the children how many syllables there are in the words they built, then try some different words and see if they can count the syllables in those too. When we speak, we stress some syllables and not others, that’s what creates the rhythm of speech.

Look at ‘Kicking up Leaves’ on page 367. Would anyone like to read this poem for us? That was very well read, and with the stress on the correct syllables. If I read it again and put the stress on the wrong syllables, hopefully, you will hear that it sounds odd.

It takes practise to hear where the emphasis should be. So, let’s try this one together.

Annotate the poem, showing where the stressed and unstressed syllables are. We used a whiteboard to have a go at scanning poems together, the children love writing on whiteboards, and it’s not so terrifying to make a mistake!

To make it easier to talk about rhythm – and to write about it, since you can’t clap in an essay – we have special words for different patterns of stressed and un-stressed syllables.

Dee-dum is an Iamb

Dum-dee is a Trochee

Dum-dee-dee is a Dactyl

Dee-Dee-Dum is an Anapest.


If a poet uses lots of the same feet in their poem, then the poem has a strong rhythm.

Scan ‘From a Railway Carriage’, page 505, together. 

(I printed out some extracts from poems so that the children could have a go at scanning them scansionsheets.pdf)

Everyone can try to scan ‘Fruit Picking’, page 401.

Younger children can use the lacing letters to build words.

Week Three – Parts of Speech

Arrival Activity Madlibs. Some of the children had done these before and some needed a bit of guidance. But, they all enjoyed this activity a lot. madlibs

Recap We’re going to remind ourselves of what we’ve learned so far. I’m going to give out some cards with single syllables on and I want you to see if you can make a one syllable word, a two syllable word and a three syllable word.

Give out the word fragment sheets. syllablecards2

Introduction We’ve learnt a few technical terms so far, but the most important terms for talking about language are the parts of speech.


Individual Task Make flip books with a selection of words that can be formed into many sentences.

I didn’t make a print out for these, I just showed the children an example and let them make their own. It’s very simple!

Regroup Poets choose every single word with care. Sometimes, if we try to imagine a different word being used, it can help us to see why poets chose the words they did.

I’ve taken some words out of these poems, I would like you to put your own words in to complete the poems, then we’ll compare the choices we made with the choices that the poets made. missingwords

Poems don’t have to be made up of full sentences. ‘Ten Things Found in a Wizard’s Pocket’, page 257, is missing a particular type of word. Can you work out what it is?


Week Four – Sound Effects

IntroductionSo far, we’ve looked at rhyme and rhythm. Today we’re going to look at some of the other sound effects that poets use to make their poems sound good.

Has anyone watched ‘Peppa Pig’ on the television? All the characters names have the same pattern. Their first and last names all start with the same letter. When two words start with the same letter, it is called alliteration. We’re going to make up some alliterative names for my cuddly animals.

Give out cuddly toys and post it notes so that the children can give the toys alliterative names.

Let’s have a look at a poem and see if we can find any alliteration in it. Summer page 42

Let the children have a look on their own, then mark the alliteration on a shared poem.

Sometimes a poet repeats a sound in the middle of the word, rather than at the end (rhyme) or the beginning (alliteration). When they do this, it is called assonance.

Find some examples of assonance in Summer.

Individual TaskGive the children some words and let them see which are rhymes, which are alliteration and which are assonance. soundeffects

Gather TogetherRhyme, Alliteration and Assonance are the three ways that poets can make poems sound interesting by repeating sounds.

Some sounds, however, are pretty interesting on their own.

Read On the Ning Nang Nong page 331.

Some of the words in this poem are sound effects all by themselves. Words that sound like what they mean – like ‘splash’, or ‘knock’ are called onomatopoeic words. Can anyone find any in this poem?

The idea of an onomatopoeic word is that it sounds like the noise it’s describing. We’re going to perform this poem together, replacing this onomatopoeic words with actual sound effects. I’ve brought some things to make ‘bong’, ‘ping’ and ‘clang’ sounds.

Give out sound effect tools (I offered bells, saucepan lids, boomwhackers) and encourage the children to practice a couple of times, then read the poem and leave spaces for the sound effects.

Week Five – Imagery

Arrival Activity Hand out sheets with nouns written on them, ask the children to write an emotion in front of the noun, then try to draw what that might look like (e.g. a sad tree, or an angry sun). figuresofspeech

Recap Rhythm and Rhyme Let’s have a quick recap of some of the stuff we’ve done so far. Some of you may have had a go at analysing the rhythm of ‘The Lion and Albert’ at home. Let’s have a look together. Let’s draw the rhyme scheme in first. I’ve drawn in the stressed and un-stressed syllables for you, can anyone see what feet we have?

Introduction Things like trees and clouds don’t have emotions, people have emotions. So, when we attribute emotions to an object, it’s called Personification. It’s a kind of metaphor. Does anyone know what a metaphor is? A metaphor is when you describe a thing by saying that it is something else. Look at ‘It’s Spring’, page 183, see if the children can spot the metaphors. 

A simalee is different from a metaphor, in that it’s where the writer describes something by saying that it is like something else. Look at ,’As Tasty As A Picnic’, page 171, see if the children can spot the simalees.

Individual Task Look at ‘Morning Meeting’, page 146, and try to spot any simalees and metaphors you can.

Regroup: There are some metaphors that have their own name, like synechdoche, where a whole is represented by a part (like when we say ‘the crown rules’ when we mean the king or queen not their hat), or where a part is represented by a whole (like when we say ‘England is playing football’, when we mean the English football team, not the actual country).

Final Task: Imagery is about playing with words and seeing how they can mean different things. We’re going to exercise our ability to play with words with a game called Dingbats.

Letters are arranged in a box to create a sort of picture of a word. See how many you can solve! Hand out Dingbats sheet. dingbats

Week Six – Voice

Arrival ActivityMake simple cards and write them to someone.


IntroductionAs you arrived, you were making cards. When you write a card for someone, you choose who the card is going to be to and you write who the card is from.

When we read poems, we should remember that they are also ‘to’ and ‘from’ someone. Two of the big questions that we ask when we look at poems are: who is speaking here and to whom are they speaking? Who is the poem to and who is it from?

Let’s look at the poem on page 345, ‘Dear Mrs Spider’. Who does this poem appear to be to? Whom does it seem to be from? How do we know that the author isn’t really a fly?

In poetry, there can be more than one person speaking at the same time. There is the author – and sometimes we know a lot about them and sometimes we know very little – and there is the narrative voice of the poem.

There can also be more than one audience for a poem. Obviously, if you’re reading the poem, then you are the audience of the poem! But, many poems are written with a particular reader in mind. We call that reader ‘the intended audience’.

John Coldwell was a teacher when he wrote this poem and he said in an interview that he wrote his poetry to entertain his children.

Most poems aren’t written as letters, and it can be hard – as well as fun – to try and work out their intended audience.

Individual TaskHave a look at ‘Hurt no Living Thing’ on page 298, see if you can decide who the intended audience might be.

Gather togetherWe know quite a lot about Christina Rossetti, she was a lively child and sometimes rather tempestuous. As a young woman, she nursed her sick father for several years. She wrote books of poetry for children and devoted much of her time to voluntary work with sick people in London (this was before the NHS, when doctors were very expensive). Does any of this change your opinion of who this poem might have been intended for?

Final ActivityChoose ‘The Dark Avenger’ from page 475 or ‘Conversation’ from page 480. Make puppets to be the characters speaking in the poem and decide which character should say which line. puppets

If anyone is brave enough, they could perform their poem for the rest of us.



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