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Paul Cookson Poetry Workshop (Part 3) – Lots of minibeasts

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By Paul CooksonLiteracy Time PLUS Poet-in-Residence

In this final part of our performance poetry workshop films, Paul Cookson works with KS1 children using dinosaurs and lists as a starting point for a group poem.

126721_lt570509-lots and lots of dinosaursepisode 7_1240842670.jpg

As in the film, you can start with a list. The list could be about anything – eg, farm animals, pets, fish, birds, jungle creatures – but the example given focuses on minibeasts and creepy-crawlies.

Creating your poem

Step 1

Make a list of creepy-crawlies (about 12-14 will work well for a verse).

Step 2

Say these out loud in rhythm, asking the children to repeat after you:

Spi-ders, bee-tles
Ants and butterflies

Step 3

Add some -ing words. What are these creatures doing? There is only one rule: no words can be repeated.

Spiders climbing
Beetles creeping
Ants crawling
Butterflies flying
Say these rhythmically with the children.

Step 4

Add a chorus; something simple that is repeated after every four lines – eg:

Creepies here, crawlies there
Creepy-crawlies everywhere

Previous learning

Children should have experience of: listening to poems and making up their own; responding with relevant comments; extending their vocabulary, exploring the meaning/sound of new words; interacting with others and taking turns; writing for different purposes using different forms – eg, lists.

Step 5

Next, give the children the chance to be funny. They’ll love this bit! Ask the children what their favourite food is. Add this to your first line – eg:

Spiders climbing on my pizza

Now ask them to think of a body part. Where are the beetles creeping?

Beetles creeping up my nose

For line 3, think about clothes. With ants there’s only one answer:

Ants crawling in my pants

Now, think of somewhere round the house for line 4:

Butterflies flying in my bed

Put them together:

Spiders climbing in my pizza
Beetles creeping up my nose
Ants crawling in my pants
Butterflies flying in my bed
Creepies here, crawlies there
Creepy-crawlies everywhere ...

Key learning outcomes:

  • To experiment with new/interesting words/phrases;
  • To take turns to speak/offer suggestions;
  • To discuss why they like a performance;
  • To explore the effect of language patterns/repeated words;
  • To create short/simple poems.

Other options

Step 6

You could, of course, have a whole poem about food, or a whole poem about clothes. Or try a more descriptive option. List some -ly words and add them to your poem:

Spiders climbing creepily
Beetles creeping slowly
Ants crawling quickly
Butterflies flying gracefully

Step 7

Add numbers, colours, descriptions:

Ten black hairy spiders climbing creepily
Nine purple shiny beetles creeping slowly
Eight red tiny ants crawling quickly
Seven yellow spotty butterflies flying gracefully

Step 8

Now, where are these going? Eg:

Ten black hairy spiders climbing creepily up the wall at midnight Use the activity sheet below to create ideas individually or in pairs, then combine in a class poem for a stunning visual display.

And finally, Step 9

Reverse the order and have Climbing spiders, etc. Then reverse the order again, eg: Creepily climbing spiders. Mix them up:

Spiders creepily climbing
Hairy spiders creepily climbing...
Black hairy spiders creepily climbing...
Ten black hairy spiders creepily climbing
Chop and change words and repeat some phrases:

Hairy spiders, hairy spiders
Ten black hairy spiders...

Did you miss Parts 1 and 2?

Don’t worry… Parts 1 and 2 of Paul Cookson’s Poetry Workshop are still available here on the website for subscribers to download. Part 1 was published in September 2008, and Part 2 in January 2009.


  1. kayehogan
    on 11 April 2010

    fantastic ideas

    my year 1 class loved this!

    5out of 5