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We are Busy Window Shoppin’

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By Paul Cooksonperformance poet

This rap poem by Paul Cookson is ideal for investigating the use of rhyme and rhythm in poetry, and playing with the syllables and the beat of individual words.

Rap is a genre of music in which rhyming lyrics are used, often with musical accompaniments. It has developed from the West African tradition of delivering stories rhythmically with drums and is now associated with hip hop music, which began in the Bronx in New York in the 1970s.


Previous exposure to different forms of poetry would be helpful, as would some experience of picking out and labelling rhyme patterns and an understanding of the function of adjectives.

Shared teaching and learning

Shared reading

  • Explain that rhythm is very important in rap poems, then read the poem through together twice to help the children to pick up the rhythm.
  • Decide which syllables are emphasised in each line and clap on these.
  • Which instrument or instruments would the children use as an accompaniment to reading the poem?


  • Discuss the phrase window shoppin’. What exactly does it mean? How does it make the people in the poem feel? Ask the children to explain the lines:

'We can live beyond our means
If we live within our dreams'
  • Using an overlay acetate sheet (or whiteboard tools on the downloadable version), highlight the rhyming words. Discuss the pattern of these (sometimes they are in rhyming couplets and sometimes three lines rhyme together). Sort the rhyming words into actual rhymes and near rhymes.
  • Locate the words ending in the -ing suffix and discuss why these have been shortened. Point out that the apostrophe shows a letter has been missed out. Revise the other functions of apostrophes.
  • Think of other rhymes for shoppin’ and poppin’?
  • Discuss the phrase re-tail therapee. Why is it written like this? Together, make a list of other words ending in y_ that you could say in this way – eg, _family, property, calamity. Think of adjectives that could be used to describe these, such as dread-ful calamitee or noisee familee and practise reading these together.

More resources

Paul Cookson was Literacy Time PLUS Poet-in-residence for 2008-2009. Among the poems, articles and resources which Paul created for us was a three-part performance poetry workshop, presented in film format (see Issues 61, 63 and 65).

Find out more about Paul, his work in schools and his poetry collections at

The Boneyard Rap – Animated audio poem by Wes Magee (Literacy Time PLUS Ages 7 to 9 July 2008, Issue 60).

Shared writing

Ask the children to write a list of things they would love to own. Encourage them to think of unusual things, such as exotic animals, castles or palaces. Can they arrange these in rhyming couplets? Model this on the board first. Use their ideas to write your own class rap. You could start with the line We are busy window shoppin’. In the poem, the window shopping caused ‘Hearts a pumpin’, eyes a poppin’. Make up a chorus together describing other such feelings, such as ‘Tummies rumblin’, parents grumblin’.

Group and independent activities

  • Use the poster illustrations, or the children’s own ideas about what window shoppers might look like, to create a collage of a street scene, complete with large shop windows, pictures of expensive items and window shoppers outside. Use fabrics, metallic paper and/or cuttings from magazines. Which words or lines in the poem could suggest what to include?
  • Working in groups of four or five, prepare this poem for performance. Which instruments will they use to accompany the rap? How will they use the instruments to emphasise the rhythm? How will they share out the lines and which will they all read together?
  • Use the activity sheet below to write raps about the animals in a zoo. Write out neat final versions for display.

Literacy Framework

See the Using this issue chart “here” to identify the Learning Objectives covered by these activities, to track progression from Year 2 through to Year 5, and to identify links with Year 3 and 4 Literacy Planning Units.


  • Share the performances of the poem and discuss. What was different about each interpretation? What were the best features of each performance?
  • What have you found out about rap poems from using this poster?