I am delighted to have been asked to host a special ‘National Poetry Day’ (on the 4th of October this year) post based on looking at ways of using the amazing variety of poems in this glorious anthology within the classroom.
‘I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree’ is one of Nosy Crow’s most ambitious publications to date. An absolutely stunning anthology containing 366 poems spanning 400 years of poetry, each individually selected for children by anthologist Fiona Waters and beautifully illustrated by Frank Preston-Gannon. There’s a fantastic balance of the modern and the traditional, British and world poetry all centred around a theme of nature.
Its creation was driven forward by Kate Wilson, the Managing Director of Nosy Crow. She recalled the anthologies she had as a child which were just pages full of black and white text. Kate wanted to make this collection as lush and inviting to children as possible, and I’m confident in saying that she succeeded!
Within this lavishly-produced collection are works from some of the world’s best-loved poets, nestled between anonymous world and traditional songs. It would make a Christmas or birthday perfect gift and would be a fantastic resource for any school library. I could imagine reading a poem a day to a class or during assembly, or selecting some themed examples to look at more closely with a group.
As a teacher, I always found it difficult to teach poetry in a way which engaged all the members of my class. However, there are a few tried and tested ways I have discovered of exploring poems in a way that’s accessible to all. I’ve selected two poems on a similar theme from ‘I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree’ to demonstrate some of the ways they could be used in the classroom. I’d also like to share a link to the teaching resources created for Nosy Crow which you can access by clicking here.
I chose the following two poems because they are both based on the theme of storms, making them great to compare and crammed full of atmospheric descriptions.
Initially, I like to split the children into teams to investigate various aspects of the poems. One group is in charge of drawing the poem as a picture, another identifies new or unusual vocabulary, another group finds words or phrases they particularly like, and the last can chose part of the poem they enjoyed to reenact as a freeze frame (you could rotate tasks around groups as you look at different sections or use a whole class approach and have them all do everything!)
Drama is a powerful way of exploring poetry and is something that’s often squeezed out of an already packed timetable. Do it in your English lessons and photograph it as evidence. Explore the poems and the children’s own experiences of storms. Whirl like the wind and sway like trees!
Both poems include repeated refrains which make them ideal for children to reinvent using their own ideas (which doing drama and exploring the language will help them develop.) ‘It’s Only The Storm’ is full of personification. Could children rewrite it and personify a blizzard or a sandstorm? The possibilities are endless.
From a teaching perspective, the breadth of poems included is fantastic – varying lengths, styles, time periods mean there’s something here for everyone. The gorgeous illustrations making it even more accessible.
A truly stunning collection.
*Many thanks to Nosy Crow and Antonia Wilkinson for inviting me to be part of this blog tour*