Key Stage 3

Here are some poems recommended for use in Key Stage 3 lessons, grouped by themes. Some have links to articles on this blog, others are just suggestions at this stage.

FUN, WORDPLAY
Poetry Jump Up by John Agard. Fun and great for performance or starting lessons.
Dis Poetry by Benjamin Zephaniah. A useful introduction to playing with language. Children can puzzle over the dialect and spot patterns in the use of words.
in Just-spring by e e cummins. Fun wordplay, anarchic style and plenty to discuss.

LONELINESS, HOMELESSNESS, REFUGEES
Alone in the Grange by Gregory Harrison. Ideas about loneliness and mystery.
The Streets of London by Ralph McTell, Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles, Alone in the Grange by Gregory Harrison. Two song lyrics and a poem on the theme of loneliness.
Citizen of the World by Dave Calder. We Are Refugees by Benjamin Zephaniah. Reema’s Poem. These all address the theme of refugees and war.
I Am by John Clare contains themes of loneliness and alienation, and has a background of the poet’s mental health problems.

PSHE, ANXIETIES, TALKING POINTS
Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden. This tackles relationships between parents and children. Should children by more grateful or do parents offer unconditional love?
Whatif by Shel Silverstein. Simple, repetitive poem which will get children talking about their anxieties and lead into writing.
Television by Roald Dahl. A very easy-to-access poem which is ideal for getting a debate going about which is best – television or reading. Contains rhyming couples. Excellent for performance.
Let no one steal your dreams by Paul Cookson. An excellent start to working with a new class.
I Am by John Clare contains themes of loneliness and alienation, and has a background of the poet’s mental health problems.

RACISM, SOCIETY TODAY
The British by Benjamin Zephaniah. Great for a discussion on racism and prejudice and for promoting the ideas of justice and equality. Super video!

SOUNDS
Joy at the Sound by Roger McGough. See Sensational!, edited by Roger McGough. Excellent for recitation and for leading into writing. Suits all of Key Stage 2.
Louder than a clap of thunder by Jack Prelutsky. See Sensational!, edited by Roger McGough.
Sounds like magic by Celia Wallen. See Sensational!, edited by Roger McGough.

MYSTERY, STORY-WRITING
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. Mysterious, possible Christmas or winter theme. Can stimulate artwork.
Preludes by TS Eliot. A mysterious and bleak, almost blank, canvas. Inspires creative poetry and prose. Good for years five or six.
The Sea by James Reeves. Good for personification and metaphor and performance.
in Just-spring by e e cummins. Fun wordplay, anarchic style and plenty to discuss.

WAR, PROTEST
The Christmas Truce. These are two songs, one by Mike Harding and the other by Paul McCartney. Children look at the lyrics, compare the songs and discuss the Great War.
Everyone Sang by Siegfried Sassoon. The end of the First World War. Accessible poem ideal for performance and discussion.
Shema by Primo Levi. The Butterly by Pavel Friedman. Both examine the Holocaust.
There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara Teasdale. About how nature responds to war, particularly the First World War.
Tiananmen by James Fenton. Simple vocabulary, powerful message about young people campaigning for democracy.
The Shores of Normandy. Moving ballad poem and song about D-Day, told by a veteran.

DISASTER
The Gresford Disaster by Anonymous. Introduce children to poetry about historical tragedies. They can discuss who was to blame. Musical link for this poem, too.

ANIMAL CRUELTY
My Mother Saw A Dancing Bear by Charles Causley. A chance for a mature discussion about animal cruelty. A moving and accessible poem.

SHAKESPEARE
Shakespeare – Prologue to Romeo and Juliet, and All the World’s A Stage. Experiment with the Bard. Children love trying to work out the code!

WEATHER, NATURE
April Rain Song by Langston Hughes. A wonderful poem to look at when it is pouring with rain.
The Sea by James Reeves. Good for personification and metaphor and performance.
Break, break, break by Alfred Lord Tennyson. New Dragon Book of Verse.

SENSE OF PLACE
Adlestrop by Edward Thomas. Inspire children to write about a favourite place.
Midsummer, Tobago by Derek Walcott. More inspiration to capture the sense of place.

POETIC TECHNIQUES
A revision exercise on poetry techniques. A simple exercise to write a poem containing five major poetic devices. Coloured pencils needed!
Television by Roald Dahl. A very easy-to-access poem which is ideal for getting a debate going about which is best – television or reading. Contains rhyming couples. Excellent for performance.

METAPHOR
The Sea by James Reeves. Good for personification and metaphor and performance.
The British by Benjamin Zephaniah. Great for a discussion on racism and prejudice and for promoting the ideas of justice and equality. Super video!

GEOGRAPHY/KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD

RECITATION
Break, break, break by Alfred Lord Tennyson. New Dragon Book of Verse.
Shakespeare – Prologue to Romeo and Juliet, and All the World’s A Stage. Experiment with the Bard. Children love trying to work out the code!
Poetry Jump Up by John Agard. Fun and great for performance or starting lessons.
Dis Poetry by Benjamin Zephaniah. A useful introduction to playing with language. Children can puzzle over the dialect and spot patterns in the use of words.
Alone in the Grange by Gregory Harrison. Ideas about loneliness and mystery.
Preludes by TS Eliot. A mysterious and bleak, almost blank, canvas. Inspires creative poetry and prose. Good for years five or six.
April Rain Song by Langston Hughes. A wonderful poem to look at when it is pouring with rain.
Whatif by Shel Silverstein. Simple, repetitive poem which will get children talking about their anxieties and lead into writing.
Television by Roald Dahl. A very easy-to-access poem which is ideal for getting a debate going about which is best – television or reading. Contains rhyming couples. Excellent for performance.
I Am by John Clare contains themes of loneliness and alienation, and has a background of the poet’s mental health problems.