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Mum’ll be coming home today

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By Michael Rosen

This poem, by Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen, is written in the style of a conversation. In the first part, a child speaks about what it has been like during the three weeks that Mum has been away from home. The child is answered, in the second part, by ‘Mum’s Reply’. This touching family poem is ideal for performance and reading aloud.

Shared learning and teaching

Shared reading

  • Discuss the title with the children. What do the children think the text will be about?
  • Read the first two lines of the poem together. Where might Mum have gone to? Why has she left?
  • Read the whole poem together and discuss its features. How is the poem structured?
  • Who is the speaker of the first part of the poem? How old do they think the speaker is? Is it a boy or a girl? Do we know? Does it matter?
  • Try reading the poem with the speaker’s voice. How does this alter the effect of the poem?

Previous learning

Children should have read and written a variety of poetry texts using different features and performed their own poems using different voices.

Responding to the poem

  • Why is the poem in two parts? What is the poet trying to show?
  • Why is the poem written with punctuation like this? How does this differ from other poems you have read?
  • Having read the whole poem, have the children changed their minds about where Mum has been for three weeks? Why do they think this? What evidence is there in the poem to back this up?
  • What does Mum mean when she says, ‘Well now you know what I know’? Has there ever been a moment like that in your own family?

Group and guided activities

  • In small groups the children can brainstorm their ideas about the poem, thinking of questions they would like to ask Mum and the family. They could then hot seat the character of Mum to find out the answers to their questions.
  • Invite the children to create their own family poems based on this poem by Rosen. They could write in a similar conversational style, or another form, such as a rap (see activity sheet below).
  • Help the children to edit their poems. Encourage them to discuss what they would like to do in their group to get more ideas and feedback, then change their poems accordingly.

Key learning outcomes:

  • To identify some aspects of talk that vary between formal and informal occasions;
  • To group/classify words according to spelling patterns and meanings;
  • To use evidence to explain events or ideas;
  • To understand how writers create coherence and impact.

Further reading

  • Visit Michael Rosen’s website at www.michaelrosen.co.uk
  • Use this poster in conjuction with on-screen resource 2 in Literacy Time PLUS for Ages 9 to 11’s March issue, which provides interactive frames for two forms of conversation poems. Look out in the May issue of Literacy Time PLUS for Ages 9 to 11 for three more conversation poetry frames, in Part 2 of the resource.

Links with ICT

  • Let the children use a digital camera to record themselves as they perform their poems in their groups.
  • Encourage the children to use a word processor when writing and editing their poems. How could they change the fonts to help them when they read and perform it? (Eg, bold means shout.)

Speaking and listening

  • Invite the class to perform the poster poem in the style of rap, giving certain words more attitude than others. Discuss what words the children would need to emphasise and why.
  • Compare how the different groups have performed their own rap poems. How was the structure different? How were words stressed? Why?

Plenary

  • Share the children’s poems, commenting on the presentation and flow of the poem.
  • Ask the children about other types of poems they have enjoyed and why.

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