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Play with poems

When I was at school, we used to lash poems to a chair and set about torturing them. We scrutinised the rhyme scheme and sneered if we found it lacking. We dissected the imagery and decided what the poet meant. If we couldn't decide, then we sneaked off to the library to copy what the critics said and regurgitated their ideas, pretending it was our own thinking. But poems are slippery eels.

Try missing out the title and see what the children think the poem is called. Cut up the lines and ask the children to reassemble the poem. Draw the key image and highlight the five key words. Make lists and then discuss likes, dislikes, puzzles and patterns.

Put the children into groups to perform the poem. Write the poem out as if it was prose and ask them to see if they can rewrite it as a poem where do the line breaks occur? Set the poem to music, to a rhythmic beat, to a photo or a freeze frame of human bodies. Let's not torture poems but explore and come to love them

Pie Corbett is a literacy consultant

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