Reciting and performing poems at this time of year is guaranteed to bring out an inventive streak in pupils, says Josie Whitehead.If you are thinking of doing a school concert during the festive season, it is well worth getting pupils to recite a Christmas poem. Poems can work if they are taken out of books and brought alive through performances. The advantage of using poetry is that a poem is small enough, especially for younger pupils, to learn at home and then practise during class time.
A good idea is to divide your class into groups of four. Give them a poem and let them decide together how they will approach it. You will soon see how inventive they can be. I have seen some of my poems sung in a group, done as a rap and performed as small dramas. Pupils may want to wear costumes for their performance or use relevant props.
Two poems that I have written spring to mind for a Christmas concert, but there are many others. The Best Donkey of Them All (see website below) is one of my poems that relates to the story of the donkey who carried Mary to Bethlehem.
He is old and tired but explains: "I feel quite young inside." You need a narrator, someone to speak the part of the donkey and an angel. The pupils might like to use puppets for this particular poem and can create their own donkey.
Projecting scenes on to a whiteboard could be another answer, while the pupils read the various parts aloud. I would suggest that more than one narrator is used for this story. The Nativity Play at School poem can also be acted and there are many parts to play. There needs to be narrators and I would suggest that different pupils do a verse each.
There is an abundance of other short poems that pupils would enjoy for their school Christmas concert. If you choose one of my poems, the pupils can listen to my voice recording attached to each poem, which should help them capture the mood and meaning behind the words.
If you have Skype in your classroom, you can invite the author into your school to meet the pupils and see their performances, as pupils love to meet the real life poets they have been studying.
Josie Whitehead is a retired teacher and poet.