Literacy

9th February 2007 at 00:00
Ages 7 to 11

The theme of National Poetry Day this year was identity, quite a difficult thing to get to grips with for young children.

However, I found an unusual way into this concept through the use of a poem by George Ella Lyon called Where I'm From - you can hear the poet read her own poem on www.georgeellalyon.com.

At first the poem seemed too difficult for my mixed Year 3 and 4 class, so I broke it down and wrote my own poem to the same pattern.

The idea is to think of things that make you individual: memories of childhood, favourite smells and sights. I explained that these things are "where we are from" just as much as the place we live in.

The children tried to imagine the special foods their mum cooks, or an object in their bedroom, family rules, trips and things that have happened to them. They then shared their thoughts in class.

I compiled a prompt sheet to help them to remember what they could include in their poem. A writing frame was also provided for the less able. The resulting poems were stunningly individual.

Some were funny: "I am from, 'I don't care who started it, stop arguing now!'" Others were poignant: "I am from moving to a new country" or "from not talking loud when the baby is asleep".

We entered our poems for the Berkshire-wide National Poetry Day competition, where one of my Year 3s got first prize in the key stage 2 category: a wonderful surprise for a child who only entered this country in September.

This is part of the poem I wrote as an example:

Where I'm From

I am from family trips to Legoland, from football on Saturdays

I am from spaghetti bolognese and salty chips

I am from a cosy armchair snuggled up with nan reading me a story

From daddy Tom and mummy Lisa

From "Don't forget to wash your hands!" "Turn that television off!" and "It's time you went to bed!"

I am from the smell of bubble bath and hot chocolate

And from my baby brother being born on a cold night in December

Michelle Gregory is ASTliteracy leader at Oakfield First School in Windsor, Berkshire

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