Sometimes poetry can be used to get to the point of a literacy lesson a lot quicker than when using regular prose. I wrote the attached poem ‘Mrs Jardine’ (below) while keeping the idea of teaching powerful verbs in mind and it was certainly a success when I trialled it with some Year 5 children recently.
After reading the poem with the class a couple of times I asked the children to imagine what kind of teacher Mrs Jardine was- Is she kind and sympathetic? Have you ever met a teacher like her? Would you like Mrs Jardine as your teacher? Of course not and It didn’t take long for the children to notice my choice of verbs and the effect they were having on the poem. After asking them ‘What’s the difference between smile/ grin? sing/ howl? talk/ bark walk/ stagger? (they loved the idea of a teacher barking!!) they certainly began to get the idea of considered word choice and how powerful it can be.
If you use this poem, encourage your children to perform it together as a class. While reading it they could emphasise the actions and sounds in the piece while taking full advantage of the onomatopoeia in ‘slurp’, ‘bark’ and ‘howl’.
As a writing exercise your children could write their own verses using the same rhythm, rhyme and structure. Are they able to produce their own combination of weak/powerful verbs? On completion of these verses get them to perform them for the rest of the class- they’ll love it and won’t even notice that they’re learning! (I’ve included a writing framework for this lesson, download it here.) mrs-jardine-framework If your children do come up with some striking and original verses please send them to me at email@example.com I’d love to see them!