Collected Ideas for Poetry With Year 1
For the writing blog this month, I’ve collected together a set of tweets that I put up on twitter for a teacher who asked for help in doing poetry with Year 1.
Here are my replies:
Get as many poetry books into your classroom as possible. Encourage the children in pairs to browse, choose and read.
Read poems to them every day, use vids of poets, use national poetry archive. Writing poems with no poems in your head is too big an ask. Fill their heads with ‘What poetry can do’ ie loads of poems.
Remember: the secret of the best poetry teaching is reading, looking at, enjoying, talking about, having fun with a wide variety of poems! Ideas, shapes, possibilities will flow from the variety. You join in. Write with them.
Handwrite a poem-a-week and hang it on the wall. Encourage the children to write thoughts about the poem on post-its and stick them on the poem.
Create a ‘sayings wall’. Encourage the children to bring on words, lines from songs, books, tv, films; Street signs, shop names, their names;parents’ and family sayings. Kick it off with yours. Use the collection to make rhythms. Create an a Capella backing out of one of them.
The easiest form to follow are sea shanties and work songs. You don’t have to rhyme them. Take eg a chorus line: ‘down at the beach’. Encourage the children to come up with a line each to say between the chorus line. Find chorus lines that provoke rich solo lines.
Do ‘experience’ poems: eat something, go see something, immerse in a moment eg dinner hall. Collect ‘impressions’ and ‘sensations’ (ie see, hear, touch, smell) Make montages of these. Create rhythms out of them. Make up refrain to use as a Capella backing track or chorus.
Try to get poems in a variety of languages by encouraging the children to bring poems from home: diversify diversify! Encourage the making up of using home languages in poems. ( I put Yiddish words in some of mine)
Try not to narrow poetry down to any one thing, or any formula. Encourage them to see it as very various: formal, casual, short, long, happy, sad, funny, serious, jokey, difficult, multi-voiced.
Make Powerpoint poems, mixing words, drawings and clip art.
When you read them poems, experiment! Make acapella rhythms by repeating a key word or phrase from the poem. Make background noises to give atmosphere or context. Think of the class as a poetry choir.
Think of published poems as templates or as mind triggers. As templates, just take out words and put in new ones. As triggers: read the poem, daydream for 30 secs and write or say first thoughts. Montage these. Make rhythms by repeating bits. Create a connected flow.
When you recite or repeat the lines, try out different ways: duets, in chorus. Maybe there is a sound in the picture. Can we make that sound while others say the lines we’ve come up with. Create a performance piece while you project the picture.
Find odd, interesting or intriguing pictures. Get the children to say what the person, animal or object is ‘thinking’. Make a list or montage of these. Recite them. Maybe invent a refrain to go between every 2 or 3 lines. See if repeating bits adds a rhythm.