Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Michael Rosen on poetry

I have been prompted to write up some notes I took recently at a talk by Michael Rosen, the former children's laureate, by a link to this post on his own blog from one of our home ed groups:

Michael Rosen blog post

The evening I attended at Seven Stories involved a talk on the role of poetry in education and had some useful ideas for engaging children in poetry so I thought I would post my notes here for future reference or in case anyone else finds them useful:

1. Children should have regular access to different styles of poetry and be allowed to do with
it whatever they please.

2. The adult "teachers" should try to make themselves equal in learning about the poetry, by not suggesting that their ideas are superior and admitting that there are elements that they too do not understand yet.

3. Children should have time to play with sounds and rhymes using their voice. They can try to guess sounds, use a sound as a starting point for a poem/song or as a theme. They can use loud or quiet sounds, music, echo and props. Rhyme and rhythm are the starting points for the cohesion in poetry so children need to be able to find their own matches.

4. It helps understanding to be allowed to perform poetry and to listen to others perform.

5. There are several questions which can be used to allow children into poetry:

    a. Ask any questions you don't know the answer to;
    b. Does anything in the poem remind you of something that has happened to you?;
    c. Is there anything that reminds you of a book/film/song?;
    d.Would you like to ask anybody or anything in the poem a question? Is there
    anything you would like to ask the poet? Is there anything that puzzles you      
    about the poem? Can the adult or children answer any of the questions (the answers do
    not have to be found in the poem)?

6. An interesting project can be to display a variety of words, from which the child chooses a selection to create their own narrative/poem/rhythm. This allows play with the flexibility of language. 

I will definitely be trying out some more of the above. We already enjoy thinking of rhyming words (often made up) and my first step will be to extend this to playing around with sounds.

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