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It’s a colourful world

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By Berlie Doherty, Brenda Williams, Christina Rossetti and Colin West

This poetry leaflet provides a range of modern and classic verse on a colour theme by poets including Berlie Doherty, Brenda Williams, Christina Rossetti and Colin West.

These teachers’ notes accompany the Guided reading leaflet in Literacy Time PLUS Ages 5 to 7 November 2008.

It's a colourful world - Guided reading leaflet

The structures and techniques used by the poets in this leaflet vary, but each poem can be read independently by children with a sound grasp of phonics. Some of the poems will be easily understood by children on the first reading, but others may need further analysis and discussion to help understand the imagery and metaphor.

The poems’ structures are simple, but the punctuation used in some of the poems, such as hyphens, dashes and colons may be unfamiliar to the children and can generate discussion.


Before reading

  • Before the reading session, cue the children into thinking about colour with some warm-up activities such as:
    • Guess the colour 1 – a child thinks of a colour, keeps it secret and says the names of things that colour until someone guesses correctly;
    • Guess the colour 2 – a child thinks of a colour, keeps it secret and the class ask questions about it – eg, Is it bright? Can cats be this colour? Encourage the children to think of shades and tones (as in On-screen resource 2) rather than simple colour names.
  • Recap and review children’s knowledge of poetry.

At the start of the session

  • Remind the children they can choose where to start in this leaflet. However, you may prefer them to leave ‘The Sky is Black Tonight’ until last, as it is harder to understand.
  • Decide on the appropriate focus for the group, eg: Recap phonemes/graphemes the children are currently working on, choosing some lines from a poem to model blending with these – eg, the long vowel phonemes /ee/ and /igh/ in ‘What is Pink?’ or /or/ in ‘My Colours’; Model reading one question and answer from ‘What is Pink?’ and a verse from ‘My Colours’ to show how the question mark and dash provide instructions for the reader;
  • Ask the children to look out for different structural patterns and new vocabulary as they read.

Previous learning

The children should be able to: hear rhyming patterns; generate rhymes to create poems based on the structures used; recognise poems by the layout on the page.

Key learning outcomes:

  • To read aloud with appropriate intonation/variety in pace/emphasis;
  • To recognise alternative ways of pronouncing/spelling graphemes/phonemes;
  • To explore the effect of patterned language/repeated words;
  • To use interesting words/phrases;
  • To explain reactions to texts.

Reading the text

  • Ask the children to ensure they use the punctuation as modelled, and encourage them to try to work out how to use the commas and full stops to support fluency.
  • Remind the children to reread sentences for sense if they have struggled to decipher words.
  • Suggest they read one or two poems a second time and notice the impact on their presentation.

Responding to the text

  • After they have read the poems, encourage them to choose their favourite, giving reasons for their choice.
  • Ask the children to read a section of either their favourite poem, or something they read particularly well, to a partner. Discuss these.
  • Discuss what else the children have noticed about the collection, eg, theme and structures.
  • Point out their successes in relation to the specific teaching points for the session.
  • Use the activity sheet below to ask questions about the individual poems.

Further reading

Two of the poems, ‘Rainbow, Rainbow’ and ‘Rainbow up high’ are written by Brenda Williams who is also the author of The First Rainbow in Leaflet 2. For more stories and poems by Brenda, see Literacy Time PLUS Ages 5 to 7 Issue 34 (January 2008) – weather poems, ‘Rain’ and ‘Puddles’ and Issue 35 (March 2008) – The Thunder Giant, animated story and audio poem.

Follow-up to guided reading

  • Find other poems on the same theme or by one of the same poets.
  • Use the poetry frames on the activity sheet below (enlarged to A4) to scaffold poems with the same structure as ‘What is Pink?’ or ‘My Colours’.
  • Choose another theme and find a collection of poems to illustrate it.