Poetry. Without a doubt.
Particularly involving this utter piece of poetry gold:
Everday after lunch, after I do the register, we spend a few minutes reading some poems. And the children LOVE IT! I say the first line of a poem they know and they make that whispered ‘YES!’ that only children in primary school seem to do, like they’ve just got an answer right.
Do we pick the poems apart? Nope. Do I make them write their own poem that must contain exclamations, a set amount of expanded noun phrases and words containing a range of suffixes? NOPE!
I read them poetry everyday, and the children know it so well they recite it to back to me or to each other. They laugh so much at the poem ‘Excuses’ that I had five of my children crying breathlessly over it.
One of my pupils hurt her leg and had to stay in the classroom at breaktime and she covertly got hold of my copy of ‘Please Mrs Butler’ off my desk and read the poems to her friends. Then she copied them out. Then she wrote her own poems. Because she wanted to.
I read a poem called ‘Cats’ by Eleanor Farjeon, and one of the children came back a week later having found it at home and proceeded to recite the entire flipping thing back to me perfectly!
One of the boys in my class has made his own poetry anthology, having taken ‘On the Ning Nang Nong’ by Spike Milligan which I read and written his own version. For FUN.
And the original poems that they’ve come up with too…. I love them!
Oh, how I wish every bit of English writing we did could be like this! Fun, imaginative, with children desperate to write more and not having to worry about including the endless list of things that the government says makes for good writing.
Here’s another gem of a poetry book. It contains poetry selected by children of different ages:
Here’s a list of the top 10 poems contained in these two books. If you read them to your children, they will love poetry for life.
‘On the Ning Nang Nong’ by Spike Milligan.
‘Cats’ by Eleanor Farjeon.
‘Please Mrs Butler’ by Allan Ahlberg.
‘Excuses’ by Allan Ahlberg.
‘Scissors’ by Allan Ahlberg.
‘Swops’ by Allan Ahlberg.
‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat’ by Edward Lear.
‘Double, Double Toil and Trouble’ by William Shakespeare.
‘I Think Mice Are Rather Nice’ by Rose Flyman.
‘Colin’ by Allan Ahlberg.
Oh, and please please PLEASE go onto YouTube and show them the amazing Michael Rosen performing some of his poetry! Particular favourites of my class are ‘No Breathing in Class’ and ‘Chocolate Cake’. The children sit there SPELLBOUND simply by a man telling a story. If you want them to perform poetry with expression, you can’t beat watching Michael Rosen for inspiration.
Once your children have heard the poem a few times, try playing them one of the videos again, but muted. I guarantee that they will be able to recite the entire thing over the top!