A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of taking my two gorgeous grandchildren to a performance of Michael Rosen’s “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”. To say we enjoyed it would be an understatement. We had a rollicking good time.
The performance involved a lot of audience participation including spraying the entire audience with water from the “deep cold river”; an event which left everyone slightly wet, screaming with anticipation and laughter, and genuinely having a wonderful time interacting with this fabulous text.
We were already familiar with the text, of course, and had read it, recited it, acted it out and played a board game which has been made to accompany the text. None of this really prepared us for the delightful stage performance; but these pale in comparison with a telling by the master storyteller himself, Michael Rosen.
Michael Rosen’s website is a veritable treasure chest with much to explore and delight. From his home page you can visit his blog which he describes a as a place where he’ll
“post up some thoughts and ideas – especially on literature in education, children’s literature in general, poetry, reading, writing, teaching and thoughts on current affairs.”
You can also check out a full list of his publications. He’s very prolific!
After attending the performance of “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” I shared with my grandchildren the video of Michael Rosen performing the story, which is also available from his home page. They loved it and we watched it “Again!”
Then I showed them the video of Rosen performing his fabulous poem Chocolate Cake. We watched it four times! Artie, who is four (and a half) was joining in with the telling the second time, and by the fourth time was copying many of Michael’s actions as well as facial and vocal expressions. Artie laughed along with the story and excitedly called other members of the family to watch it with him.
The next time Artie came to visit he was performing his own version, “Lollipop”, with similar actions and both facial and vocal expressions. His younger sister also had to have her turn telling the story. It was delightful and convinced me, though I needed no convincing, of the power of a great performer to turn children onto the fun of language, of playing with words, of performing, and of composing writing of their own. Creativity ignited!
If you haven’t yet watched Michael perform Chocolate Cake, I urge you to do so. You are in for a treat. I’m certain you will not be able to watch it without a smile on your face.
Michael is so passionate about making poetry come alive for children, he has made many videos on his website freely available to teachers for use in their classrooms.
In his article “Teachers write to me saying, ‘What about poetry?’”, Michael begins by saying,
He then goes on to present many fun ways of engaging children with poetry, none of which involve word study or comprehension exercises. He makes suggestions for performing, writing and talking about poems; and says that
“The best and most important thing you can do with any poem that a child writes is either get it performed or ‘published.”
and offers suggestions of how to do just that.
Another thing he says in that article, which was the inspiration for the title of this post, is
I couldn’t agree more.
This is just a brief sample of the riches to be found on the Michael Rosen website. There are so many videos of Michael’s performances available that I have not yet watched them all. Please let me know your favourites and I will make sure I watch those too.
Thanks Michael Rosen. We can learn so much from you while we are having fun!