World Poetry Day…

Wow what a week! Firstly, I’m so excited that after Easter I’ll be helping out a school book club to write book reviews for books that are on the The CILIP Carnegie Medal Shortlist for 2018 . Secondly, I’ve completed the manuscript for my first children’s book   and am in the middle of writing another one. Finally the icing on the cake  – today is World Poetry Day! I LOVE poetry and have done since I was little. Through poetry I learnt about alliteration, personification, onomatopoeias, haikus, rhyming but most of all I learnt that words and sounds can be fun.

Poems don’t have to rhyme (My favourite non-rhyming: Michael Rosen Eddie and The Birthday ) The words don’t even have to make sense (a great example: Spike Milligan On The Ning Nang Nong), they can be long or short, funny or sad, old or new…so much variety. It’s a fantastic fun way of developing children’s language. I often play a sort of rhyming game with my 3 year old. He says a word and I make one up and I say one back that rhymes…then he repeats one back to me. So for example, he might say “Fish” and I’ll say “dish” then he’ll say “bish” and I’ll say “mish” and so it goes on. Need to be a bit careful as of course there are some rhymes that 3 year olds are too innocent (thank goodness!) to understand…we were in the car and he heard someone with the name “Horn” on the radio and started shouting “Horn, torn, corn, born, p..,.”. I had to keep a straight face and I quickly started another rhyming  word with less embarrassing consequences! And on that note, here’s a great article highlighting the benefits of poetry for children: 5 Reasons to Teach Poetry

Writing this blog has brought back so many wonderful memories of some of my favourite poems and lessons. I thought I’d share some of the poetry I still remember reading as a child.

Favourite Poems

  1. The Guppy – Ogden Nash This was my first poetry love…I remember having to write it up and draw pictures for it in year one a very, very, long time ago. My sons’ nursery have been teaching about baby animals and I sent them this poem. It brought happy tears to my eyes to see it printed off and taped onto their fish tank when I went to collect them.
  2. A Tiger in the Zoo – Leslie Norris – This is the poem that taught me about personification. I think I was in year 9. We had an amazing English teacher. Firm but fair.  A lot of the poems we covered in the years with her really stuck with me.
  3. Night Mail – By W.H. Auden – I love this poem. To this day,  I can’t stand on the platform of a railway station without thinking of this poem when I hear the clickety clack of the rails. I think I must have been around 12years old when we covered this in school. Very special memories – at the time we studied this there was a national writing competition with the post office that our class entered and out of the whole class I won a little box of postcards. I was struggling at school so it meant (and still means!) a lot to me.
  4. Halfway-Down – A.A. Milne – A beautiful poem that really resonated with me. Growing up with an overactive imagination I had lots of “funny thoughts” running round in my head. Daydreaming was one of my favourite accidental past times….and still is!
  5. Who Killed Cock Robin? – not exactly the most cheerful one. It was in a nursery rhyme book I had. Some nursery rhymes and fairy tales are pretty grim…think it  the pictures of birds was probably why I read this one again and again…
  6. Limericks….there are so many of them and so much fun to try and make up. My favourite (Am from Leeds so probably biased)                                                           There once was a farmer from Leeds,
    Who swallowed a packet of seeds.
    It soon came to pass,
    He was covered with grass,
    But has all the tomatoes he needs
  7. I’ve still got “Quick, Let’s Get Out of Here” by Michael Rosen & Quentin Blake it’s a great book! This is the poem I used to read over and over again. Now, as a mum of 2 toddlers it really resonates even more with me!  Eddie and the Birthday – Michael Rosen
  8. An Imaginary Menagerie – Roger McGough So this is another book full of wonderful poems. Brilliantly imaginative with lots of plays on words my favourite was “The Allivator”.
  9. Who could not love Please Mrs Butler – Allan Ahlberg ? An absolute childhood classic! I think a lot of teachers could relate to this poem!
  10. For my final one I thought I’d include this one that we had to learn for a parents’ concert evening at primary school Matilda – Hillaire Belloc …think the school was trying to teach us something???
  11. Ok this is my final final poem and another one we had to learn for parents (I could write this list forever!)…I love the rhythm this one has and also remember learning the word “phosphorous”. Not a word I suppose you often hear in a poem. This is definitely the last one on the list I promise!! Colonel Fazackerley – Charles Causley

Would love to hear what your own or your children’s favourites are!

Here’s one of my own creations to finish off. Thanks for reading!

There’s A Crocodile in My Shoe – Kirsten Allen ©

There’s crocodile in my shoe! There’s a crocodile in my shoe!
I don’t know what to do! There’s a crocodile in my shoe!
If I tread on it’s nose, it might suppose
A meal might be made out of my dainty toes

There’s a crocodile in my shoe! There’s a crocodile in my shoe!
I don’t know what to do! There’s a crocodile in my shoe!
I’m not sure how it got there
And quite frankly I don’t much care!
I really can’t put my shoe on
Until that naughty crocodile’s gone

I’ve got so much to do today,
I really want to go out and play.
So, I’ll have to make a snap decision and wear my wellies instead.

Children’s Poetry…

Children’s rhymes and poems can shape the way we look at the world when we’re younger and bring back amazing memories when we’re older. To give you an example, I honestly can’t walk past a fish tank or see a kitten without fondly remembering sitting in a classroom (think it was Year 1) and learning, writing out and illustrating this one by Ogden Nash:

The Guppyby Ogden Nash

Whales have calves,
Cats have kittens,
Bears have cubs,
Bats have bittens,
Swans have cygnets,
Seals have puppies,
But guppies just have little guppies.

A.A. Milne, Michael Rosen, Roger Mcgough, Spike Milligan all have special places in my heart and different meanings for me. I think the one that terrified me was one we had to learn for a school concert: Matilda – Hillaire Belloc it’s a bit like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” but much darker!

Children’s poetry is fantastic for repetition, vocabulary and according to one blog even physical coordination…

Why Reading Poetry is So Important for Children

It’s also great to create poems with children and get them thinking about how words can sound with rhythm. How they can be used to express thoughts and feelings or just fun noises!

A game that my 3 year old son loves it when I rhyme words and change the first letter to make new and sometimes nonsense words. He joins in which is fantastic (though we have to be a bit careful…listening to the radio he heard the name Jack Horn…he suddenly started shouting “Jack Horn! Jack Corn! Jack Forn!Jack Morn! Jack P…..” 😳 Luckily we were in the car so no one around and I managed to distract him by shouting frantically back “Jack Corn Jack Corn” and then change the topic which seemed to work)<<<<<<<<<<<<
y article that gives ideas for simple activities. I particularly love the suggestion of having a book around the house that kids can write in. I used to have my own blue notebook (would love to dig it out!) And poetry is educational, helps kids to read etc but most of all it's just good fun!

Children’s Poems <<<<<<<<<<<<
ouch and let me know – What was your or what is your child's favourite childhood poem?

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Honest Mum

Party like it’s Friday….

Well I promised the book review of Kitchen Disco (by Clares Foges and Al Murphy) and what a book it is! It arrived on Friday and without exaggeration we have read it about 8 times already. It’s great for around 6/7 and under with so much colour, fantastic rhyming and a good beat. It almost feels like you’re at a party when you read it. It tells you to “Dance like you don’t care!” (Though my 3 year old keeps insisting “I do care Mummy!” – not sure if he means his dancing or mine! 😂)
It’s all about the party fruit have when everyone’s asleep. So “Swing your hips, shake your pips and let’s get all excited!” Such an enjoyable book that my son loves doing the moves to.

There’s also a website attached with a video  (link below) though if I’m honest the book is fun enough without it.

Kitchen Disco

Something for the weekend….

What a lovely week! I’ve been fortunate to have been asked to do a monthly blog for a wonderful charity, Motherwell Cheshire CIO so watch this space!

https://www.motherwellcheshirecio.com/services 

Also I’ve volunteered to do a regular storytime at Hanwell Library in London which starts on the 9th November. Very excited and looking forward to it!

We’ve also got a wonderful new addition to our book family (it was recommended by a lovely lady on a Facebook thread) It’s such a sweet amusing story I just had to share!!!

The Pout-Pout Fish – by Deborah Diesen

This is a story about a pout-pout fish with a pout-pout face spreading his dreary-wearies all over the place! (Think we’ve all had those days! 😂) It’s not his fault…it’s the way he was born…or so he thinks! This has lots of repetition and rhyming, alongside colourful characters. It’s a great one for the under sixes. Really love this book and so did my 3 year old. Here’s the link below. Have a great weekend!

Pout-Pout Fish

Storytelling nerves…..

What are your favourite Autumn children’s books? 
This week Sandhurst Library have very kind in asking me to lead a storytelling session on Thursday and it’s Autumn themed. I’m so flattered that they would like to hear some bits that I’ve written alongside  some Autumn type books.

So here’s a little something I wrote for the occasion:

Autumn – by Kirsten Allen 

Mud squishing in my fingers 
Brown conkers all around
Golden leaves are falling. What a crunchy sound!!!
Furry squirrels playing hide and seek with the acorns that they find.
Lushes lovely berries!
Types of every kind.
These are the wonderful things I think of,
When Autumn springs to mind.

©

Tuesday’s Challenge and Rhyme Time

“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.”

Beatrix Potter

Tuesday’s Challenge!

For today’s challenge, children should draw a scene, it can be under the ocean, at the zoo, in space, a pirates ship or a mystical magical land….any where they want. They can draw a few characters (maybe a fish with 3 heads, a mermaid with 2 tails or a weird alien…anything they can imagine!) and then tell you about the picture and characters. You can make up stories together starting “One day (name of character)…..”

And now for a little rhyme I hope you enjoy:

An Adventurous Day Out
By Kirsten Allen

We’re going on an adventure, adventure adventure
We’re going on an adventure and the best is yet to come!
We’ve packed our jam sandwiches, jam sandwiches, jam sandwiches 
We’ve packed our jam sandwiches. Yummy yummy scrum!

We’ve packed our rainy day wellies, rainy day wellies, rainy day wellies, 
We’ve packed our rainy day wellies in case it starts to rain.
We’ve put on our nice warm jackets, nice warm jackets, nice warm jackets
We’ve put on our nice warm jackets and we’re off to catch the train!

We’re choo-chooing to the zoo, to the zoo, to the zoo
We’re choo-chooing to the zoo – I wonder what is there?
I can hear a roaring noise, a roaring noise, a roaring noise.
I can hear a roaring noise – is it a noisy bear?

NO IT’S NOT A BEAR!!!!! It’s a hungry LION and he’s escaped from his cage!!!!! HEEEELLLPPP!!!!!!

We’re running back out of the zoo, out of the zoo, out of the zoo!
We’re running back out of the zoo – it’s the only thing to do! 
We’re now all safe and sound, safe and sound, safe and sound
We’re now all safe and sound – BIG BIG PHEW!!!!!! 

©

Something interesting and a Bear rhyme!

I was really interested to find out why children love the same books over and over and over and over again. So I did a bit of googling. Turns out there’s been an experiment done on 2 groups of children. The first lot got the same book with a few made up words and had it read to them repeatedly. The second group had different books but the same made up words e.g. “Sprock” appeared in all of them. The group that had the same book repeated remembered the new words more easily. Think this will give me more patience when reading Bear on a Bike by Stella Blackstone (a lovely bedtime story about a bear going on adventures on various modes of transport) for the gazillionth time!!!!

www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/never-ending-story-how-repetition-helps-a-childs-vocabulary-2220647.html%3famp

And here’s a bear story for the day:

Brave Boris and the Bear

Kirsten Allen

Brave Boris woke up one dawn
And thought about adventure on this bright morn’.
He put on his trousers and favourite old shirt.
Found socks and shoes and got on his horse – Bold Bert.
With a whinny and neigh they went off on their way!
Through fields and forests they galloped and rode.
Through mud and rivers the gallant horse strode.
Now tired and hungry, Brave Boris sat down to rest
And eat his scrummy picnic – (he liked cake the best!)
When all of a sudden he heard a roar and a yowl!
Suddenly came a screech and a howl!
Brave Boris realised he was picnicking near a cave…
And all of a sudden he didn’t feel so brave!
But then he felt curious, he wanted to know:
What was making that noise.
Should he look?…Should he go?
He paused for a minute to try and decide
What he should do – investigate or hide?
He heard another loud “ROAR!” 
And “Someone help! I’ve hurt my paw!!!!”
Soon followed by a very big yelp! 
So Brave Boris went right in to help.
He looked inside and saw a bear crying.
“Please help me!” He said “I’ve been trying and trying!”
“What’s the matter?” asked Brave Boris, (who was still not too sure.)
“Please help!” said the bear “I’ve got a thorn in my paw!”
“A thorn in your paw? No wonder you cried!”
The bear said “It won’t come out – I’ve tried and I’ve tried!”
Brave Boris looked and scratched his head.
“I’ll get it out for you. First sit on your bed.
Now hold out your paw…be brave! Just a little bit more…”
With a heave and a ho
It came out in one go!
“As a thank you” said the bear.
“I’d like you to take 
A very big slice of my honey cake”.
Brave Boris was happy as happy could be and gobbled the honey cake up for his tea!

©



Tuesday’s Bear Challenge and bear book review!

We seem to have accumulated a lot of stories about bears in our house. Bear on a Bike, Bears on Chairs, Going on a Bear Hunt, Paddington, Winnie the Pooh….just to name a couple! So this week is getting a bear theme. Starting with a book review:

Kiss Goodnight, Sam by Amy Hest
This is such a sweet story for pre-schoolers about a bear called Sam who lives on Plum Street. It’s time for bed. He has everything he needs… favourite story, milk, all tucked in. However something is missing…His mum has to work out what. I’ve been made to read it as a bedtime story a few times this week but it’s such a cute, gentle book I really don’t mind! 

Tuesday’s Challenge!
For this week’s challenge with your children think of as many bear related words as possible and put them into a story or rhyme! To get you started, what do they eat, what do they look like, what are the sounds they make etc. Have fun!!! 

Helpful link and a rhyme for the weekend 

Hello again! Thought I’d share this interesting article I came across:

http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-18/childrens-literacy-study-links-hearing-words-to-reading-ability/8697138?pfmredir=sm
Meanwhile this weekend has been a crazy with teething and potty training but somehow managed to find time to have fun with this poem. My two year old enjoyed zooming around the room like a demented rocket and looking for treasure (I could see the pound signs in his eyes when he found some money that had fallen out of my pocket – oops!!!). Reminded me of when I was little my mum would do a big shop on a Thursday night so Dad would look after me. I was obsessed with playing treasure hunt and writing clues an leaving them around the house to lead my dad to the treasure (usually a half eaten lolly or something 😂)

Anyway hope you enjoy it!

Anything Anywhere
By Kirsten Allen 

We can be anything you and me.
Just close your eyes and count to three 
We can be pirates in a ship off to sea.
Eating ship’s biscuits for our tea.
Searching for treasure – maybe gold!

We can do anything in our little den.
Let’s blast off in our rocket –
Count down from ten!
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 BLAST OFF!!!
See the stars.
Fly past Mars.
Zoom around the moon
And back again!

The world is our oyster don’t you know?
Just shut your eyes to dream and off we go! 

©

Wednesday’s review and a little poem….

Well I ummed and ahed about which book to review today……Far too many childhood books to choose from. In the end I went with one (or in fact a series) that I used to read in bed, in the car (travel sickness allowing), at breakfast, at lunch and dinner (parents allowing!) It’s a great series of books and one I’d forgotten about until thinking of childhood books this week.

The Brer Rabbit Collection – By Enid Blyton

So this collection is by one of my favourite childhood authors. It’s based around the stories from African-American and Native-American folklore. The main character is a cunning rabbit (Brer Rabbit) who gets himself into (and out of) lots of situations and plays tricks on others using his cunning and wiley ways. Other characters include Brer Fox and Brer Bear. Would probably say children the age range is 6-8 but they may enjoy having the stories read to them from about 5. I really loved this series!
As we’re covering childhood this week thought I’d add my own short verse of how I remember some of mine and hopefully how my boys will remember some of theirs. (This was pre-phone/tablets/computers so we’ll see!!! 😂) Hope you enjoy x

Childhood

By Kirsten Allen

Climbing trees
Scraping knees
Riding bikes as quickly as we can
Running after the ice cream van
Twizzling, twirling
Rolling, whirling
In the park 
Playing out until dark
Jumping in puddles 
Bedtime cuddles

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