Communication, Language and Literacy Development (CLLD) in the foundation stage and KS1 is now receiving a much higher profile in schools nationally
The recommendations of Sir Jim Rose's independent review of the teaching of early reading (the Rose Review) has raised greater awareness of the importance of working systematically with our young children to develop speaking and listening, phonics and early reading and writing.
The Primary National Strategies advises that in all Reception Classes the reading and writing curriculum should include:
(a) daily discrete phonics session;
(b) daily shared reading and/or writing;
(c) daily opportunities to hear stories, poems, rhymes and non fiction read aloud.
As a poet with a teaching background, I am fully aware of the importance of phonics and how rhyming poems can assist with the development of phonemic awareness, which helps children with reading. There is so much written about it. Look at this page from the Saskatchewan Education Department, although most Education Authorities and their teachers of literacy recognize it:
In particular read what they say about "Exploring Sound Patterns". If you follow through to "Procedures" you will see that they advise that rhyming poems etc be used regularly during the day, starting with morning assembly. I would really recommend that children concentrate on at least one poem each day. Read them a poem, talk about it if necessary, and then read it again but stop at the rhyming words. Write on the board the words randomely and ask the children to write out the rhyming words, linking one with the other. They will see clearly how words that rhyme are not necessarily spelled in the same way.
Being aware of the fact that small children like stories, you will see that many, many of my poems have stories within them, as well as rhyming. Why children, even before they can read, love rhyme, I have no idea but I have proved beyond doubt they do, and when I offer to read a poem to small children, their faces light up. They have discovered even from the simple nursery rhymes that you read to them that playing with words, and rhyming poetry is fun, and it brings a smile to their facs.
I just cannot list in this short article all the poems I have written with stories in them, but if you go through my index you will see many and in my books you will see hundreds.
With using poetry for your narrative session, please do encourage children to learn parts of a poem and recite it together for performance. Do, if you can, encourage them to dress up and play a part. You could also get the children to make simple puppets and, reciting poetry, act out a scene on a small theatre stage that you can make. When I was a child we had nothing much in the way of toys as it was the war years, but we did manage to get "orange boxes" and with a piece of string across the top, we could make simple curtains, and wow!! We had a theatre or a dolls house, a doll's hospital or a shop. Children love to be inventive and quickly learn to do so when they don't live in the affluent age of today.
Another thing which I know children love is to use an existing poem to create their own. For example, children love the little animated film "The Wizard of Alderley Edge." (See my Welcome Page) It begins: A farmer from Mobberley had a White Mare etc.
Read this verse again, and encourage the children to discover what else might the farmer have, as well as the white mare: eg: grey hair? A brown bear? Perhaps "not a care."
They add to this: A farmer from Mobberly had a grey bear etc
Children might even like to do something very simple such as doing an alternative nursery rhyme. I have done a few of them, and you are welcome to use them as a basis. Instead of Old Mother Hubbard, ask them what Young Mother Hubbard might do? My young Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard for ingredients for her Indian curry. She is a modern Mum. There was a little mouse there, and the end of the rhyme says that the family had pizzas instead. Go to this poem on this website. Instead of "There was an old woman who lived in a shoe" why not start them off with "There was a young woman who lived in a flat? She had two little children, Robert and ------- (Pat) eg. Did she spank them and send them to bed? No, of course not. She was a loving person.
Try writing: See-saw - oh what a bore - and then to think what the next line could be.
If you are going to encourage your children to write in this way, you need to teach them a little bit about how rhythm/metre is done, and if you look in my web index you will see that I have written many articles on this subject. Then take them to the Children's Corner to practise. A little bit of practice each day is all it takes, and I do this myself. Using something like the nursery rhymes or one of my poems as a template is a good start. We all learn from models, whatever we do in life. It is a natural process in human learning, as you know.
Here are some wonderful poems for children of all ages for you to try with your classes:
You don't need me to guide you to good poems for your children. In addition to ones that you may well know, I have given you the opportunity to try many of my own via this website. If you want them permanently in your classrooms, may I suggest the Ebooks I've produced, and for £7 all your class can read them from your visual display board instead of buying 30 books per class. I have to pay for my website and I also have to pay my bills as you do too. However, there are many also on this website which I have written myself, working very hard over the last six years and testing them regularly with the children in my local primary school, and market researched in many schools by teachers of all levels before they chose some hundreds for publication.