Why I am writing this blog

All poetry is magic. It is a spell against insensitivity, failure of imagination, ignorance and barbarism. (Charles Causley, 1990)

Poetry is not the new rock’n’roll, it was the first rock’n’roll. (A Wilson, The Poetry Book for Primary Schools)

A poem is like a shot of espresso – the fastest way to get a hit of mental and spiritual energy. (Jeanette Winterson)

Advice for teachers
Your first poetry lesson with a new class
Questions to ask about a poem
Revise five key poetic devices – like this
Poems I have successfully tried with a class
Question cards for poetry lessons
How to start a poetry lesson
25 things to do with a poem
An example lesson of getting children to write poems
Five simple rules for writing a poem
How to get your class to perform a poem

The purpose of this blog is to encourage teachers to use poetry in their classrooms. Teachers are often reluctant to devote precious lesson time to poetry; some are even a little frightened of it. I used poetry every week in my classroom and the children, wary at first, eventually got to love those lessons.

Poetry is exciting. It is provocative. It is playing with words. It breaks all the rules (children love this bit). Forget, just for a while, about full stops, capital letters, full sentences… Consider only the meaning, the effect of the words, and the joy of playing with language.

In this blog, I will build up a large supply of suggested poems. I will tell you where to find them in books and on the internet. I will suggest other resources you might wish to use along with them, such as video, still pictures, audio and music. Forget worksheets – this is poetry and it is exciting.

Poets chosen range from Shakespeare to the present day, and from many different cultures. The aim will be to enthral children, get them thinking, get them experimenting with language and get them writing their own poems – finding the poetic voice within them.

I will also list some suggested questions you might ask with each poem to get children thinking, talking, laughing or even crying about the work you put in front of them. Good luck.

I should say that my suggested poetry lessons do not match the National Curriculum units. The poems and activities I describe could be used in daily literacy lessons, but could also be used as fun 30-minute lessons in the afternoon. Yes, it is still possible to have fun in the classroom, and to enjoy playing with language!

I welcome your comments and suggestions. I would like to hear about poems that have worked for you in the classroom. Best wishes.

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