Guest Blog: Amanda Belbin
‘Chop Chop, Choppity Chop.’
I introduced the first poem, Chop Chop, to a group of children. They were instantly engaged. The actions and the simplicity of the poems makes them so accessible. Our setting has a high level of children with speech and language issues, and they love The Poetry Basket. They confidently recite the poems, and beam with pride that they can remember and articulate them so well. A child with very few words was able to ask for the poem he wanted by using the actions. As we use a Total Communication approach in our setting, the actions that go alongside the poems makes this resource highly inclusive. From that first introduction I knew The Poetry Basket was going to be a positive change for our children and their language development.
Now poetry happens anywhere and everywhere…..
Having learnt a few more poems, I often hear them being recited spontaneously by the children. At lunchtime, as they are cutting up their food we hear the words ‘Chop Chop’. In the garden when they are sweeping leaves, the words, ‘Leaves are Falling’ begin. And then the leaves are really falling as they scooped up armfuls and throw them again and again. In the role play kitchen, the tea pot and tea cups prompts children to remember the words ‘Here’s a cup, and here’s a cup and there’s a pot of tea.’
As they are walking, waiting, playing, sitting, eating and in many other situations, the words just keep coming. The language seems to flow, bringing them together. And they love the sound of their voices.
Let me share a book with you….
What is better when you are three years olds, than being able to pick up a book and read it just like the ‘grown-ups’ do? As we moved on with The Poetry Basket, we also printed the downloadable booklet from the website, and used it when we were choosing which poem to recite. From the simple illustrations, children were able to quickly recognise which poem was which. They were able to point and name the poem. Placing a copy in the book area meant that the children could sit together and recite the poems. They love turning the pages and discussing which one to choose, taking turns to perform them for each other.
And what amazing performances we have had.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…
We have a small area in the Nursery where children can sit together and sing songs. We have deliberately placed pictures of familiar songs on the wall alongside a mirror. As the children became familiar with the poems we also added the images from The Poetry Basket so they could choose those too. How they love reciting and watching themselves in the mirror.
The Poetry Basket is going home too…
Our next move was to print off the books to send home with the children, in their book bags. They already choose story books to share at home, and we knew how excited they would be to have their very own Poetry Basket Book and be able to read every word. As the children left with their books safely in their bags, I watched as they proudly showed their parents. One little girl pointed to the booklet and said, ‘Mum, I’ve got Chop, Chop.’ Her Mum had obviously heard it before, because she replied, ‘Oh wow, that’s amazing. Let’s look when we get home’.
Over the weekend our online Learning journal had pictures posted of the children sharing their books with their parents. Such a simple way to boost parental engagement in reading and sharing books with their children You cannot thwart the determination and confidence of three and four year olds.
Exciting, Engaging and Enabling…
In a time where it seems there is so much pressure on our very youngest children, The Poetry Basket is here for us to use. It’s so simple, yet it has had such a huge impact in a short period of time. Make it your New Years Resolution to learn a new poem a week and get signed up.