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Narrative Poetry -Tells Its Own Story

Last month I wrote about working with Grade three and four students at Ardeer South Primary School who began investigating narrative poetry. Our inquiry started with sharing poems by Michael Rosen (Chocolate Cake) and Steven Herrick (First Day At School). We looked closely at the text structures and features of this writing form. 

During our study we closely examined poetic elements such as line breaks and white space. We began by working In pairs reconstructing a Michael Rosen poem (from the book, Quick Let's Get Out of Here) which I had earlier deconstructed. The task was somewhat like unscrambling a jigsaw. 

This exercise drew attention to the decisions poets must make when presenting words across a page. Lots of talk, and collaboration ensued as these young poets magically restored the poem to a more familiar layout. Follow up discussion revealed that these writers were developing an awareness of the need for a difference in text layout to a traditional narrative.  

We discussed different line lengths and the students could see how such variety adds to the visual appeal of the poem. We also discussed how line length influenced the rhythm of the reading. The reading of narrative poetry was ongoing in this process of inquiry. The teachers had done a great job in gathering a broad collection of narrative poems. Immersion and discovery were well catered for in this shared classroom. The scaffolding was now in place.

Moving forward, many of these young poets used their own narrative stories as inspiration for creating poetry in subsequent lessons. Others created new stories.  With the support of their teachers, students worked through the process of drafting, revising and editing their poems in preparation for publishing. They polished their poetic pearls!

I now present some samples of the student poems:


When Lama and I went to the park
We were riding our motorbikes
How cool!
Lama was not confident in riding my bike
She was a little scared
She’s a girl, someone said
Ha, ha, girls are scared
So I showed her what to do
Watch me Lama, this is how it’s done
After watching me for a while
Lama thought she might give it a go
She got on her bike
I followed her on my Harley
And we raced
She can ride now



My Dad is so sleepy
After dinner
Every day at six pm
He goes
To sleep
He snores like this-
When he takes us to school
We arrive late
It’s so terrible
Sometimes he
Sleeps for a whole day

My Mum said to my Dad
Go and walk and get some fresh air
He says, NO
I’m sleepy



 I love weekends
I just feel…Free!
No one is holding me back
Except for mum
She makes me do all the work
It’s just…WRONG

The eldest does the WORK
Not the youngest
 I’m already ten
BUT that doesn’t mean I have to do

There are a million things to accomplish
I should be the one with more time on my hands!
But no. There is never time
Although I feel empty
Work is probably good for me
She is thinking of going to
The supermarket
So, we go to the supermarket
Arrive home
Then relax…



I have two little sisters
Most of the time
They can be pests
They are
Nice around my friends
But at home
When no one is about
They are naughty
I want to put
Them In a box
And sell



My silly dog plays tricks
Every time I say STAY

Every single night he is so silly
He ate two giant flies once
-And a little rat
I don’t know why
My dog is so silly
And why he eats flies
I don’t know why

I play games with my dog
I call him Evil Dog
And pretend if I look at him
He will hook me
And I will die
He is terrible!

Did you know my dog
Is scared of cats?
It’s a secret
Woof, woof, woof



My big sister, Amelia
Showed me how to cook
Yumy, yummy
I love my big sister
My big sister, Amelia
Sometimes she makes me angry, but I know
She still loves me



It was a rainy day out there
Belting down with anger
Thunder and lightning scared my dog
Scared my dog sick it did
So, I let my dog inside and then
He got excited and kept jumping on the chairs
He even jumped on the big sofa
I got mad and kicked him outside
And tried not to let him in no matter what
But then he started to cry
-So, I let him in again
He started to run around like crazy
He smashed my computer
I got so mad
I locked him in my empty shed
He couldn’t get wet
He was happy
And I got to have a peaceful rest
A little annoyed my computer was broken



It’s time to go to bed…

Just before I crawl into bed
I hit my head
That’s annoying!
I hate going to bed. I just want to stay up a little bit more
But, I’m not allowed to

I can’t believe my sister goes to sleep just like that.
Why can’t I go to sleep like she does?

Wwwoooowww, now my room is twisting
And floating
And my toy robot is talking to me saying,
You’re a weirdo
You’re a weirdo
And zombies are trying to bite me
And I can see a video of my dog Shelly biting mt favourite shoes
Nooo Shelly!
Don’t do that

Now my sister is scratching Shelly’s belly and giving her my favourite to chew
That hat cost me a fortune
(It only cost me $20 actually –but it’s still my favourite)
I’m totally freaked out now
My worst horror movie is turning itself on
I’m totally freaked out
I start kicking my legs out, don’t ask me why

All of a sudden, I wake up
Thanks goodness, it was all a dream
How am I going to get to sleep now?



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