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Spellbound and Riddle

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By Norman Vandal and Judith Nicholls

Two short poems with an ICT theme: a riddle (about a word processor); and a humorous word play poem about a spell checker.


Background information

This poster features two short poems with an ICT theme: one a riddle; the other a humorous word play poem. They are particularly useful for children working on Y5 Poetry Unit 1 – Poetic style, while ‘Riddle’ would also be relevant to Y6 Poetry Unit 1 – _The power of imagery.

Shared learning and teaching

Before reading

  • Ask the children:
    • What do we already know about poetry?
    • Do you have a favourite poem?
    • How can a poem make you feel?
  • Look at the two poem titles. What do they make you think about?

Shared reading

  • Read through ‘Spellbound’ together. Do the children understand the word play? How can we still read the words when they are incorrect within the context?
  • Now read through ‘Riddle’ together. What is being described?
  • How do the two poems look and read so differently? Discuss.

Links with ICT

  • Use a spell-checker for the children’s own poetry and see if they can alter the meanings of their own poetry as ‘Spellbound’ does.
  • Use word art or clip art to present and decorate your new riddle poems.

Responding to the poems

  • Reflect on what you have read together. What is the value to the reader? How do the poems make you feel? What do they make you think about?
  • Discuss the effect of the word play in ‘Spellbound’. Highlight the words which have been ‘misused’. How should they be spelled? Is this technique funny/clever? Do the children like the poem?
  • Take a closer look at the figurative language in ‘Riddle’ and discuss the images it conjures up – eg, word-cruncher; dream-hoarder. From the poet’s imagery, do you think she likes using a word processor? What does she mean by ‘Snatch them and mix them, make them your own’.
  • Compare the use of rhyme in each poem. Identify the more obvious ABCB pattern in ‘Spellbound’ and the alternate line rhymes and half-rhymes in ‘Riddle’, accompanied by internal line rhymes (jumble/mumble; snatch/catch) which reflect the jumbled-up theme of the poem.

Group and guided activities

  • Choose a subject for an alternative riddle and think of figurative words and phrases to describe it. You could stick to the computer theme – eg, a mouse or a pen drive – or choose another machine such as a calculator or a refrigerator. Together, start to build these words and phrases into a poem, starting with the same words, ‘I am…’.
  • Use the activity sheet below to further explore the use of homophones, finding the alternative spellings for the words in ‘Spellbound’ and thinking up some more examples.

Speaking and listening

  • With the teacher in role as the person speaking in ‘Spellbound’, encourage the children to think of questions to ask in an interview. Respond to their questions as you think the person in the poem would. Would the children answer any of the questions differently? Why?
  • Do some improvisation work. Ask the children to imagine they are dream-hoarders. What dreams would they collect? Encourage them to mumble words and images – noting down or recording what they say so the ideas can be put into a class poem.

Literacy Framework

See the Using this issue chart to identify the Learning Objectives covered by these activities, to track progression from Year 4 through to Year 7, and to identify links with Year 5 and 6 Planning Units.


  • Which of the two poems did the children like best? Why?
  • Discuss how they could use the two poems to develop their own poetry in future. How could they do this creatively, without it being classed as copying someone else’s style?


  1. fun folder
    on 8 January 2010

    the riddle

    i LOVE! the riddle! seya!


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