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Twisting Tales

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By Celia Warren and Brenda Williams

These five poems provide a different slant to some traditional and well-known tales: Sleeping Beauty; Pinocchio; Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book; J M Barrie’s Peter Pan and Wendy; and Tarzan of the Apes written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Burroughs’ book was published in 1914. In it, Tarzan, whose real name was John Clayton, was marooned on the African coast and raised by apes after his parents died. Jane Porter was later stranded in the same place. When she left the jungle, Tarzan followed her and they eventually married.

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These teachers’ notes accompany the PRINT ONLY guided reading leaflet in Literacy Time PLUS Ages 7 to 9, May 2008.

Before reading

Discuss favourite characters from traditional stories and what is liked about them. If the characters are from other cultures, indicate their origins on a world map.

Reading and responding

‘Beauty Sleep’

  • Discuss the title. What is meant by this expression? List words used for sleep – eg, forty winks or shuteye. Use a thesaurus to find more.
  • Who is speaking in the poem? Why is her finger sore?
  • Can the children find the alliteration in this poem?
  • Discuss the layout and rhyming pattern (a b c b). List the rhyming pairs of words.
  • Use the context to explore the meaning of the verb carp.
  • Discuss what kind of poem this is. How does the poet make it humorous?

Previous learning

Children should be familiar with alliteration and be able to label the rhyming pattern of a poem (see the feature Article in Literacy Time PLUS for Ages 7 to 9 May 2008: Should it rhyme?

‘Getting Into a Book’

  • Compare the layout and rhyming pattern with ‘Beauty Sleep’.
  • Discuss the proverb ‘You can’t tell a book by its cover’. Elicit others.
  • The poet uses two meanings of leaves. List other words with two meanings – eg, jam, lap.
  • Identify the adjectives and use context to identify their meanings.
  • Discuss opening a book and finding Jack’s giant beanstalk growing inside it. What adjectives could describe it? Would there be sounds? Use the activity sheet below to explore this idea.

‘The Dream of Pinocchio’

  • The poem’s rhythm reflects the jerky movements of a string puppet. Explore this through drama, using percussion to beat the poem’s rhythm. Work in pairs, one child ‘pulling the strings’, while their partner moves accordingly. Use facial expressions to show Pinocchio’s feelings.
  • Find the rhyming words and discuss their pattern. The chorus has rhyming couplets but the verses are different. The pattern is: a a b c c b
  • In large speech bubbles write what a fictional character might say about themselves.
  • How do the children feel about Pinocchio after reading the poem?
  • Find words that rhyme with day. Point out different letter strings – eg, weigh, grey. Write new versions of the chorus, starting with: I dream of the day. More confident children could write an additional verse.

Key learning outcomes:

To give reasons for their own points of view, and respond to other children’s views;

To prepare poems for performance;

To investigate the different forms in which poems are written, and to be aware of these when writing their own poetry.

‘The New Boy’

  • What do the children know about Tarzan? Who was Jane? Read the poem through twice to pick up the rhythm.
  • Find the rhyming pairs; compare the pattern and layout of this poem with the other poems.
  • How do the children in the poem feel about Tarzan?

‘Peter Pan and Wendy’

  • Discuss the expressive way this should be read – how would the characters speak? Compare ways to read the parts. Which are most effective? Which show Wendy and Peter’s feelings?
  • Hold a class debate asking if Wendy should go to Neverland or Peter leave it. Hotseat Peter and Wendy for reactions and decisions.
  • Work towards a performance including the two voices of the poem and parts of the debate.

Plenary

  • In a circle game each child should say which poem they enjoyed most, giving a reason. The next child must comment on the previous point of view before explaining his own.
  • Ask children to complete the SAT style activity on the activity sheet below. Discuss their answers.

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