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Time to rhyme

When they first arrive at their infants' classroom many children will have had some experience of poetry. They will have heard television jingles and know some of the popular nursery rhymes. At playgroup or in the nursery some will have been introduced to poems with lively rhythms, strong rhymes, choruses and repetition, and been encouraged, as they sit together on the carpet, to take part, often adding actions and mimes.

The teacher will draw on this experience, and those children who have learnt rhymes by heart will delight in performing them. Many will know the popular nursery rhymes - "Humpty Dumpty", "Jack and Jill", "Georgie Porgy","Simple Simon" and "Little Bo-Peep" - but be unfamiliar with such nursery verse as "Good King Arthur", "Jack-a-Nory", "As I Was Going to St Ives" and "They That Wash on Monday". The teacher might introduce the children to some of these old and unusual rhymes, encouraging them to join in with the chorus (see right).There

Infant teachers might then introduce young children to new and inventive poems full of engaging humour, lively language, catchy rhymes and strong rhythms. Poems such as:

I Wish I Was an Infant

by John Cunliffe in Standing on a Strawberry

Andre Deutsch

Wet Playtime

by Peter Dixon in Big Billy

The Sarsen Press


by Bernard Young in Doin Mi Ed In, Rap Poems chosen by David Orme and Martin Glynn

Pan Macmillan

Red Boots On

by Kit Wright in Lizard Over Ice, edited by Gervase Phinn


Children should be introduced to non-rhyming verse at an early stage and come to appreciate that not all poetry rhymes. There is an enormous range of rich, colourful and appropriate poetry collections available for young children. The following small selection includes poems which are witty, sad, lively, moving, magical, arresting, clever, many of which do not rhyme:

Of Caterpillars, Cats and Cattle

chosen by Anne Harvey

Viking Kestrel

Big World, Little World

compiled by Sue Stewart


Word Spells

chosen by Judith Nicholls

Faber amp; Faber

Puddlemuddle Jump In

edited by Beverley Mathias

Methuen Books

Shout, Whisper and Sing, 101 Poems to Read Aloud

compiled by Beverley Mathias

Bodley Head

Is a Caterpillar Ticklish?

by Adrian Rumble

Robert Royce

Near the Window Tree

by Karla Kuskin

Harper and Row

Ask a Silly Question

by Irene Rawnsley


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