Tag Archives: horses

Writing poetry with children

Horses go galloping

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills has challenged writers to write about galloping. What keeps replaying in my head is the phrase “The horses go galloping, galloping, galloping” interspersed with the lines from “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes, a poem I learned at school.

The Highwayman came riding, riding, riding,

The Highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

tomas_arad_heart

Learning poems at school was a joy. I love poetry and, in younger years, used to read a lot of it, less currently. Perhaps I should say I loved poetry, but that would unfair, just as it would be unfair to say that I no longer love an old friend that I haven’t seen for years, for at the moment we meet up again the connection is just as strong as ever, the ties never broken.

Oftentimes when I read Charli’s challenges I know how I will respond immediately. Other times I need to massage the idea until I hit just the right spot. This time the horse has bolted and the paddock is left empty without a horse in sight. All I’m left with are my thoughts of poetry.

Fortunately, as an early childhood teacher with a love of picture books, recent years haven’t been completely devoid of the poetic form. While not necessarily written in what might be considered “poetic language”, many are written in rhythmic rhyming verse. Others contain verses within the story, such as the refrain in The Gingerbread Man or the song in Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.

The gingerbread man

A title recently added to my list of favourites, through repeated readings and recitations by my grandchildren, is Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Australian author Aaron Blabey. Its rhythm, rhyme and sense of fun is an absolute joy. We laughed together at every reading by G1, and every recitation by G2. It begs to be read and re-read, recited and recited again. Sadly, I got to read it aloud only once, and even then not all the way through! “Hey,” I protested in vain. “I like to read picture books too!

piranhas don't eat bananas

Of course there are also many books of poems and rhymes written for children, including Nursery Rhymes, though many of those weren’t written with children in mind. There are also some that fit into a horsey theme such as

In addition to reading poems and stories to my class I also enjoyed writing poems with them. At this early childhood stage the poems would be more rhythmical verse, sometimes rhyming and sometimes not, with only the hint of an introduction to poetic language.  I have previously written about writing our versions of I Love the Mountains, a traditional camping song.

I have also written some resources for supporting teachers when Writing Christmas poems with early childhood students. These are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store and soon to be included in readilearn resources. With easy-to-follow structures, writing these poems give children immediate boosts to their writing confidence.

I had been thinking for a while that I should write some new versions suited to other times of the year, but hadn’t prioritised it. However, when I read Rowena Dreamer’s post Mr’s Poem: Through My Window on her blog beyondtheflow, another idea sprang to mind. Rowena discussed the writing of a poem “Through my window” that had been set as homework for her son.  I immediately thought of the sound poems that I had taught my students and wondered if the structure could be adapted for sight poems.

The structure of a sound poem

This is what I came up with:

I saw as I looked through my window

You’ll notice that I haven’t exactly maintained the structure. This is what happens, particularly when young children are writing their versions. It is to be expected and accepted. The purpose of the structure is to support, not restrict.

I then wondered if it could be used with the other senses and, at the same time, realised that four verses, four senses, would just about reach the target of Charli’s challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about galloping. With no other ideas galloping into view, how could I resist giving it a go?

Disappointingly, I found the structure less accommodating for smell and taste, and had difficulty in conjuring different words to use for each. For example, I wanted to smell and taste the freshness of bread and the sweetness of apples. I had thought touch would be more difficult but have realised that’s not the case. The repetition of the word “felt” for both touch and emotion is perhaps not ideal though.

I would love to say more here about the necessity for teachers to experiment before setting tasks for children, and of the value of learning from the process rather than the product, but I think I’ve probably said enough in this post.  I will just share what I’ve written which, though responding to Charli’s challenge, doesn’t actually fit the criteria of flash fiction. However, if you’d be kind enough, I’d still love to know what you think.

Market Day

I heard

as I sat curled with a book

the thundering of hooves

the snorting of nostrils

the jangle of stirrups.

I felt anxious.

I saw

as I looked through the window

the horse at the gate

the rider on the path

the bag in his hand.

I felt excited.

I smelled

As I opened the bag

The freshness of bread

The sweetness of apples

The promise of coffee.

I felt famished.

I felt

As I savoured my lunch

The crunchiness of crusts

The crispness of apple

The warming of coffee.

I felt satisfied.

Yum! Fresh produce.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.