And so last week I found myself teaching poetry to thirty-two ten-year-olds. I am not a teacher, although I once wrote a poem which the Canberra Times published. But I am an author and I love talking about words with kids. So I set myself a mission - to convince the class that poetry wasn't all boring. I was honest - I admitted some of it was - because poetry is personal - and from a young perspective some of the classic children's pieces haven't dated well. The class wasn't too keen on looking at 'old dead poets'.
On Tuesday we were up to Poems That Make a Noise with Michael Rosen as our Poet of the Day. We did the Michael Rosen rap and talked about rhythm, refrain, alliteration and onomatapoeias. We made a lot of noise and found that Michael's poems did too. We wrote great poems about a haunted house using onomatapoeas and some I-Spy couplets using alliteration. That afternoon, kids came up to me as I waited in the playground, to tell me a new limerick or alliteration tongue twister. One boy even brought an Andy Griffiths book (one of the Just series) to show me he had found a poem in the back. I'm hoping that means they are having fun.
On Wednesday we turned to our first 'old dead poet' to talk about Poems that Paint Pictures. Our poet of the day was Dorathea Mackellar and we discussed lyric poems and emotion. We got all patriotic listening to My Country sung at the Australia Day celebrations in 2010. We drew a picture based on Open Sea and then looked at how poetry made pictures in our heads - simile, metaphor, adjectives and personification. We wrote simile and metaphor poems about ourselves ("I'm Great") and everyone wanted to read aloud. Then we wrote personification poems about how things came to life in our bedroom at night. It's a party in there after dark! Did you know bookshelves are big readers when everyone is asleep?
Finally, just for fun, we made a simile and metaphor chatterbox. Apparently I "dance like a duck." Sigh. It's true.