Tag Archives: poem

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,


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!

Dinosaur party

My gorgeous little grandson is four years old tomorrow.

He is captivated by dinosaurs and engages all members of the family in playing dinosaur games.

To celebrate his birthday this week, I decided to make this little book about a dinosaur game with his family members (little sister Anna, parents, an aunt and uncle, and two sets of grandparents).

I hope you enjoy it too!

There are 2 choices of format: read it by yourself or read-along with me.

Read it by yourself:

You have three choice of arrows to use to page through the book : on the book itself, below the book, or on your keyboard.

Click on the full screenbelow the image to view in full screen.

Read-along with me:

Click on the arrow to hear a reading of the story.

Related article:

Play. Dinosaur party (antlersandoctopus.com)


Spider encounter

What value a bug’s life? What value a child’s uniqueness?

Have you ever found a spider in your shower?
What did you do? How did you react?

Click on the link to read the poem “Hello Spider”.

Hello Spider

I wrote the poem this week after encountering an 8-legged friend in my shower.

As the poem reveals, I am quite happy to share my world with spiders. However I am rather reluctant to share my shower with them – they just might jump on me! Arggh!

I don’t really know why I crushed the spider with the broom after it had so willingly vacated the shower. I suffer deep pangs of remorse at having done so; but I did keep a very watchful eye on it while I was in the shower – just to make sure it wasn’t going to come back and jump on me. And all the while, it didn’t move. It stayed very still.

Later, out of the shower and fully dressed, I spotted a spider of similar size on the ceiling. Two spiders in one morning, I thought: must be an infestation! I checked out the spider on the floor, and found it wasn’t there. It was the spider on the ceiling – resurrected! Now that there was no possibility of it interrupting my shower, I was greatly relieved to see that I hadn’t killed it after all.

While I did write this poem as a bit of fun, it does raise a philosophical dilemma.

Do we have the right to kill other creatures? And if so: Which ones? When? Why?

These questions lead far deeper too, into many other issues about which we must make ethical decisions. However, at the moment I am just considering our right to kill these tiny creepy crawlies that invade our homes and personal spaces. It is okay, isn’t it? What value a bug’s life anyway?

Various readings have contributed to how I think about this. A few in particular spring to mind un-beckoned when confronted with tiny creatures in my home. For example if a cockroach should dare to make an appearance in my kitchen, invariably I grab the closest killing implement (e.g. shoe) and put the tiny creature out of its misery – or mine.

But I always apologise to the cockroach for having robbed it of its life, so that makes it alright. Right?

But is it really alright if I persist in repeating that very same action every time I find another cockroach in my kitchen? Is it real remorse? Do I really have the right to do this to one of the most resilient and perennial creatures on Earth?

Many years ago when reading Chesapeake by James A. Michener (Random House, 1978) I was challenged by the description of an attitude held by the colonialists towards various groups of people who were considered to be non-human animals. I thought that if it was so easy to disregard the humanity of so many groups of people, are we underestimating the worth of animals.

The tenet of Buddhist philosophy, ‘do no harm’ is also challenging, and niggles away with thoughts that pop-up to tease and taunt me whenever the issue of life or death presents itself.

And of course, the unmerciful slaughter of Roald Dahl’s hero, Lexington, in the short story Pig (Collected Short Stories, Penguin Books, 1992) makes me cringe with abhorrence. Why not then for the pigs?

So many thoughts. So many issues. So many ethical decisions.
Please feel free to comment on any related issue that may be of importance to you.

I’m going to take it just one step further to another analogy, that of education.

When we try to mould a child to fit a certain expectation at a particular age, when we impose a set curriculum that provides no opportunity for negotiation, when we leave no room for self-directed investigation, when creativity and curiosity are lightly valued, are we not quashing the essence of what makes that child unique? Of what potential is the world being robbed? Are not the free thinkers, the innovators, the ones who see outside the square, the ones who challenge what is for what might be, are they not the ones who change the world?

Sometimes it seems that the uniqueness of child can be as carelessly squashed as a spider in a shower.

“Some men see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say why not?” George Bernard Shaw (Back to Methuselah, 1921)