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The King of All the Dinosaurs

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By Paul Cookson — Poet

This film is the first in a three-part performance poetry workshop by our Poet-in-residence, Paul Cookson. Part 1 comprises a whole-school performance by Paul, featuring his poem ‘The King of all the Dinosaurs’.

The audience at the school ranged from four right through to 11, so the films can be used with any age group. However, the follow-up workshop ideas are differentiated by age group.

Here, Paul focuses on the poem ‘The King of All the Dinosaurs’, and suggests using this poem to inspire your own performances in school.

The King of All the Dinosaurs

Shared teaching and learning

Poet’s notes

  • This poem is about the most famous of all the dinosaurs, the one all children know about – Tyrannosaurus Rex. In the poem, I have used the aurs rhyme – rhyming it with jaws, claws, floors, etc. However, while the rhyme adds to the poem, it is the rhythm and the actions that bring the poem to life when performed. I always like to involve the audience when performing a poem, using a repeated line, chorus, or even the whole poem. In the activities below, we are going to concentrate on the word rex.
  • Watch the film before sharing it with the children. Then decide whether you would prefer to let the children watch my performance before or after you share read and perform it yourselves using the printed text on the PCP below.

Previous learning

Children should have had previous opportunities to listen to rhymes and poems and to make up their own, involving experimenting with word and letter sounds.

Key learning outcomes:

  • To interpret a text by reading aloud with variety in pace, emphasis, intonation;
  • To listen to video and express views about how a poem is presented;
  • To discuss why they like a performance;
  • To find and use new and interesting words and phrases.

Speaking and listening

  • First, as teacher, take the lead role, introducing the poem and reading it out. Invite the children to join in with the word rex, rolling the r so you almost roar the word rrrex!
  • While they are saying this word, suggest that the children use their hands like claws or talons, moving them forward as they say the word. So, you then get the rrrex as they lurch forward like dinosaurs.
  • Encourage the children to try to anticipate the word and the timing. Vary your voice, pause or just point at the right time. Maybe even slow the line down so the children are waiting for the roary bit. The timing is important, as is the rhythm of the whole poem – imagine a stomping dinosaur.
  • Encourage the children to get louder at the end of each verse, finishing with a massive shout at the end! (Of course, this depends how quiet the class is next door!)

Shared writing

As a follow-up, write a performance poem together, following these simple steps.

  • Make a list of dinosaurs on the board (you could refer back to the Dinosaur Alphabet resource). Eg:

    Brontosaurus

Stegosaurus

Pterodactyl

Velociraptor

  • Think of -ing words that go with them. What do they do? What do they sound like? How do they move? Eg:

    Brontosaurus stomping

Stegosaurus running

Pterodactyls screeching

Velociraptors eating

Now say these out loud in a rhythm.

Your resources

  • ‘The King of All the Dinosaurs’ is from Paul Cookson’s latest poetry collection I’d Rather Be a Footballer: The very best of Paul Cookson (Macmillan, 978 0330 457132).
  • The Very Best of Paul CooksonA CD of Paul’s poems (Macmillan 978 0230 532052).
  • For further information and ideas on performance poetry see Paul’s Feature Article It’s not what it looks like… it’s what it sounds like
  • Hear Paul performing ‘He Just Can’t Kick It With His Foot’ in On-screen resource 2.
  • Download a film of Paul performing David Harmer’s poem Mister Moore plus the poem text from the Literacy Time PLUS website.
  • Think of a different action to perform for each word as you say it.
  • Why not add some repetition? Eg:

    Brontosaurus stomping – stomp, stomp, stomp!

Stegosaurus running – run, run, run.

Pterodactyls screeching – ark! ark! ark!

Velociraptors eating – Snap! Snap! Snap!

Try it out loud again!

  • Extend the idea by thinking up a simple chorus, giving your poem a structure of chorus/verse/chorus/verse/chorus, etc. Go for something easy like:

    Dinosaurs (say it Di-no-saurs)

Dinosaurs

Lots and lots of dinosaurs

Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs

Lots and lots of dinosaurs

Put it all together and you have your own performance poem!

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