Going on a treasure hunt!

we're going on a bear hunt

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,

The-best-thing-you-can

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

Treasure-what-each-child

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!

16 thoughts on “Going on a treasure hunt!

  1. Chris

    Thanks for sharing your experience with Michael Rosen. I’ve got a couple of wonderful grandchildren I’m hoping to get interested in poetry. Your blog sounds like it’s a good lead.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Chris,
      Thanks for stopping by and your kind comment. I hope you will find some items of interest on my blog. If you have any specific questions I’ll be happy to try to answer them. Many wonderful poetry resources for children are available.

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  2. pscottier

    At one stage I helped (volunteered) at a primary school, just listening to the children read. I was appalled to hear another parent say, ‘no, don’t look at the pictures, that’s cheating!’ as a child tried to figure out a word by the context.

    That casual remark seemed designed to teach the child that reading is not fun; that words should be a chore.

    Thank God that people like Michael Rosen show that reading (and performance) can be pure joy.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. We are indeed fortunate to share a joy of reading, and of words.
      One major purpose for creating my blog (and future website) is to help educate parents and teachers about ways to support children on their journeys into literacy. Micheal Rosen’s website is a powerful resource, showing how to have fun with language and learning. Today’s literacy learners are future pscottier’s poetry enthusiasts!

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  3. Charli Mills

    A treasure, indeed! Loved Micheal’s performance of “Chocolate Cake.” Somehow, I don’t think his Mum will forget, though! He’s right about getting children to perform or publish their poetry; especially the performance. You’ve seen it with your grandchildren, how they are learning to take on facial expressions and tell stories as they’ve seen Michael do. What a great way to overcome speaking in front of people before the fear of public speaking ever has a chance to take root! And a great way to learn the rhythm and flow of words and stories. Great post, Norah!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Charli. That fear of public speaking is a big one, isn’t it? I agree with you, if children can learn to have fun and engage with an audience from a young age, particularly with material of their own, then the prospect of speaking in front of others may become less daunting in later years. While I was quite happy to be “someone else” on the stage in school plays, I still find speaking up in a group more difficult.

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  4. Annecdotist

    It’s lovely to think of your little grandson creating and performing his own version of the story. I’m really impressed with Michael Rosen in the video, he’s so uninhibited and in his facial expressions and gestures you can really see him as a little boy again.
    I help out with a storytelling walk which is for adults and children: it’s great fun but I think I’m still too self-conscious to do it as well as I’d like:
    http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2013/10/how-the-elephant-god-got-his-head-and-anne-did-some-alfresco-storytelling.html

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m glad you enjoyed Michael Rosen. I think he’s pretty amazing. I love the concept of storytelling walks as you describe them. What a great thing to do! I think Michael’s storytelling is a great incentive for ditching the self-consciousness. Being able to do just that is one thing I have enjoyed about being an early childhood teacher – I don’t do it as well as Michael Rosen does though! (I have left a comment on your post. Thanks for linking.)

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  5. Nanny Shecando

    So very true, the power of story telling is absolutely magical. Unfortunately my Miss Charlie is not always a book worm (despite my best efforts) but she adores musicals, sing-a-longs and movies. Whilst on the recent fan craze of the movie Frozen, she has not only learnt every single line by memory, but can recount each line with the exact accent, pronunciation and articulation of each character precisely. It’s testament to the power of demonstration and observation as tools for learning! And yes, “treasure what each child says” truly is my motto!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Hope, Thanks for sharing this Charlie anecdote. Children are just amazing, aren’t they! Imagine how much more they could learn if school engaged them in the ways you describe! She must be so cute, reciting the movie “off by heart”!

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  6. Bec

    Ahh the power of storytelling. Surely the importance of storytelling in the history of human social evolution can’t be over-stated! It’s no wonder that a good story-teller can create such a fantastic experience for folks of all ages (grandchildren and grandparents alike).

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Bec, thanks for your comment. I guess it’s true what you say about the importance of storytelling in the history of human social evolution. It was the only way of passing her/his stories down through the generations. Thanks for the reminder.

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