The Jumper Granny Knitted
28 August 2008Add to My Folder
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This is the first in a three-part performance poetry workshop by our Poet-in-residence, Paul Cookson (Part 2 follows in January; Part 3 in May). Part 1 comprises a filmed whole-school performance by Paul. The audience 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 Jumper Granny Knitted’, and suggests how this poem might inspire your own performances in school.
I’m not a musician. I could never really master the guitar. One Christmas, my wife asked what I wanted. “Get me something I wouldn’t buy myself,” I said. “Get me a ukulele for a laugh.” Christmas morning – lo and behold – my first ever ukulele. Once I’d tuned it, I learned a few chords. Some only used one finger! Bliss! And there are only four strings!
Within months I’d learned a few tunes. So, when recording a new poetry CD, I took my ukulele to the recording studio. I needed a poem to fit the few chords I knew and came across one I’d always liked called ‘The Jumper Granny Knitted’. Even if your gran has never knitted you a jumper, you probably know someone whose granny has. Because of that common ground, people are drawn into this poem. (The best things to write about are those that we all relate to or know about.)
In Years 3 and 4, children will have gained experience of: choosing and preparing poems for performance, identifying appropriate expression, tone, volume and use of voices and other sounds; discussing the qualities of others’ performances; commenting constructively on effects and how they were achieved.
Key learning outcomes:
- To explore how writers use language for comic effects (Year 5);
- To consider the overall impact of a live or recorded performance (Year 6);
- To devise a performance for a specific audience (Year 6).
The poem hadn’t been in my regular show, but with the ukulele it just came together. I don’t sing, I perform the poem over the ukulele chords – or shout in rhythm! The audience joins in the repeated phrase: “I’m not going out like that … IN THE JUMPER GRANNY KNITTED!”
There’s always a way to perform your poems and it’s a case of finding the best voice, the best vehicle. For me, in this poem, it was the ukulele. In others it’s the use of rhythm, repetition or a chorus, perhaps with actions or sound effects.
Speaking and listening
- Every poem has a voice, but it’s not until we read them aloud that we bring them to life. Pick one of the poems on the activity sheet below, and reread it until you’re familiar with the lines. Then you can concentrate on the feel of the words, and how best to perform them, rather than on getting them right. Consider:
Tone of voice
Speed of delivery
The mood of the poem
The character(s) in the poem
Repetition (Find a line that you like and repeat it several times)
Poets take time over their words when writing them, so it’s important to make sure every word is performed.
For further information and ideas see Paul’s Feature Article
Other poems which you could try performing are ‘Superman’s Dog’ and ‘When the Teacher Turns Their Back’ which both appear in I’d Rather Be A Footballer: The very best of Paul Cookson (Macmillan 978 0330 457132). The Very Best of Paul Cookson – A CD of poems performed by Paul Cookson (Macmillan 978 0230 532052). Hear Paul performing ‘He Just Can’t Kick It With His Foot’ in On-screen resource 2, Literacy Time PLUS Ages 9 to 11, July 2008.
- Create a simple performance poem together. Write on the board:
Written down it doesn’t make sense, but try saying it out loud. Children rarely say ‘Do-I-have-to?’ ... it’s always “Doowhyaff2?”Make a list of things the children don’t want to do, but have to – eg,
Do my homework
Go to school
Eat my cabbage
Kiss my gran
Now add Dowhyaff2 to these, making:
Doowhyaff2 do my homework?
Doowhyaff2 go to school?
Doowhyaff2 eat my cabbage?
Doowhyaff2 kiss my gran?
Say them out loud – and sound whingy! Try saying DOOWHYAFF2 slowly as well.Add a chorus. Eg, what do parents say?
Yes you do
Yes you do
And do it now
Perform these lines in the voice of annoyed parents.
Put it together so your verse has the voice of the children, followed by the chorus with the voice of the parents. Exaggerate the rhythms and have fun!