Poems Aloud : An anthology of poems to read out loud
About the author
Joseph Coelho is an award winning poet and performer. In 2019 he won the Independent Bookshop Week Picture Book Award for If All the World Were… and his poetry collection Werewolf Club Rules won the CLiPPA award in 2015. He is passionate about helping children to access and perform poems. Joseph presents BBC’s Teach Poetry and has been a guest poet on both CBeebies and Radio 4’s Front Row!
About the illustrator
Daniel Gray-Barnett has illustrated four books for children, including his award winning debut, Grandma Z. He studied medicine at university before swapping a scalpel for a pencil.
About the book
This wonderful, colourful poetry collection has something for everybody, and the language used really encourages strong and confident performing. Some of the poems are short enough to learn by heart, and many invite thought and a strong emotional response. Although our sessions concentrate on certain poems, you may choose to focus on different poems, which appeal especially to your group, or relate to other things you are doing in school.
Week 1: Introduction. Pick and Mix
Week 2: Say How You Feel, Speedy Rocket
Week 3: Animals, Riddles
Week 4: The Bones of Pampachiri
Week 5: The Shockodile Crocodile
Week 6: Review and reflect, perform and play
Introduction Week 1
Introducing Joseph Coelho
Joseph Coelho runs a great website and tweets as @poetryjoe. He is going to guide you through his collection, with tips for reading at the start of each poem. You might like to explore Joseph’s website (see web resources) and get to know him a little better.
Allow the children time to explore and read through the book themselves. You don’t need to read a poetry book from front to back, you can dip in and out and read whatever takes your fancy! Although our sessions concentrate on certain poems, you may choose to focus on different poems, which appeal especially to your group, or relate to other things you are doing in school.
Read, Pass or All Play
This is a great way to explore a new poetry collection, and introduces the children to lots of poems before digging deeper.
- Select a poem to read by asking each child in turn to open the book at random, or flick through the book yourself and ask a child to say ‘stop!’
- The child can now read, pass or all play.
- They can read the selected poem aloud themselves, they can pass it on to a friend or you to read, or they can ask everyone to read it together, an ‘all play’!
Continue to build your word hoard, by adding new vocabulary from each session to your treasure chest or magic box.
Say How You Feel
This collection of five poems allow you explore a range of emotions. Share the Say How You Feel picture resources.
- Which emotions do you think are being portrayed in the photographs?
- Why do you think this?
- Read through together clarifying vocabulary, and then think about how each poem could best be read aloud.
- Can you show emotions through your voice, face and body language?
- Which emotion is easiest to convey?
- Which emotion is the hardest to convey?
How do you feel now?
- Can you respond to the poems with ideas of your own?
- Which other emotions do we feel?
- How might they be described in a poem, similar to Joseph’s?
Use a Bubble Map (see Resources) to track your thinking. Put the emotion in the central circle and add thoughts and words. You can add as many extra circles as you like! Can you make up your own poem and speak it aloud? What kind of voice and body language will you use?
Learn a poem
The children might like to choose one of these short poems and see if they can commit it to memory. Actions and facial expressions will help!
Speedy Rocket was written to be read fast and fluently! Looking at the punctuation will help children flow along the lines. You only need to stop at punctuation marks, not when a line ends. You might like to practise the polysyllabic words separately, as they are challenging to read quickly!
Finding a voice
Explore the Animals poems. Share the picture resources and discuss how accurately the poems portray the animals. Read together and then choose how each animal would speak.
- Does the word choice help you? Work in pairs and perform your favourite to the group.
These poems invite movement. Take a look at the different verbs and adjectives that Joseph has chosen for each animal. Use the word choice to help you decide on some actions for each poem, and add these to your performance.
Read Riddles together. What is a riddle? You practised speaking quickly and clearly last session, and clarity is important when telling riddles. Practise reciting the riddles clearly, then challenge others to solve them! Can you read them clearly enough for others to hear all the clues?
Where is Pampachiri?
You might like to watch the short video of Pampachiri (see web resources), to get a sense of setting. It is a mysterious and wonderful place in Southern Peru. Before the Spanish conquest it was populated by the Inca, Chanka and Wari peoples who have left numerous archeological sites in the area. Pumas and condors live there alongside people. High up, you can find a spectacular stone forest, which is a geological formation of volcanic rocks, shaped into large smooth cones.
A climbing poem
The Bones of Pampachiri is a challenging poem to read. Its subject matter is rather scary and it is set out in an unusual way. Allow the children to read the poem alone, supporting them by clarifying vocabulary.
- How should we read this poem?
- Does the order matter?
The stanzas follow a climbing route, scaling the illustration. Read together once you have decided on the correct order.
Unlike many others in the collection, this poem tells a story, as well as describing a setting and an emotional response.
- What has happened?
- Can anyone summarise the story?
- What do you think was in the cave?
- Would you have gone inside? Why?
- Do you think this really happened to Joseph Coelho?
- Should poems always be true?
Add actions to this poem by identifying the movement words and dramatising them as you read. You might like to split into two groups, of readers and actors, then swap roles. Have you read any other poems like this? Read Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, and see if you can spot any similarities or differences.
Reading round the mountain
Take a stanza each and read around. Listen to others and see if you can help them improve their reading aloud.
- Who reads with great expression?
- Who is easiest to understand?
You can explore patterns in many of the poems but this one has a regular ABCB rhyme which the children may be able to hear and predict. Give out the Rhyme Cards and ask the children to find their rhyme sibling. Can they think of any other rhymes which could join their family?
Preparing a performance
Joseph Coelho has shared some great tips for performing poetry for BBC Teach (see web resources).
Read The Shockadile Crocodile together. Listen out for the rhymes and rhythm.
Split into two groups, one group will read the poem, and one group will be the audience. There is a lot of audience participation in this poem! Swap over.
Poet Brian Moses has written a well known poem about, not a crocodile, but an iguana! Listen to him perform it here. Does it help you perform The Shockadile Crocodile?
Choose a favourite
Next week you are going to practise and perform a poem from the collection. Look through the book and decide which ones might be suitable. They might be ones from the sessions, or others which you have enjoyed.
Read, Pass or All Play
Revisit this game from session one, and explore old favourites or maybe something new.
- Do you feel more confident reading poetry aloud?
- How do you feel your reading has changed?
Perform to others
Use this session to prepare and perform for the mini challenge. Revisit Joseph Coelho’s tips for performing, and choose a poem you all love! Decide where you are going to perform, and to whom. Think about how you can help your audience understand the poem, and the feelings behind it. Practise and then perform your chosen poem.
Review and reflect
- Do you feel more confident reading poetry out loud?
- Which poems did you find most challenging?
- Which were the most fun to read aloud? Why?
Send us a recording of your performance, either as a video or a sound file. You might also like to tell us how you chose the poem you performed, who listened, and how you felt about your performance in the description. If your file is too large to attach, please send to caroline@justimaginestorycentre via Dropbox or WeTransfer.