Thursday, 8 December 2016

Poet James Nash at Shire Oak Primary School

Animal Magic by Sheila Chapman
James Nash with teacher Ian Martin
The school hall was packed for this poetry performance by Year 3 at Shire Oak Primary School. The Christmas tree was shining in the corner, the children were a sea of bright purple (the school uniform jumper) as they sat on the floor waiting for the poetry to start , and all the parents sat  (very quietly!) at the back. We were all very excited.

James Nash (a Headingley poet who had been working with the children and their teacher, Ian Martin) told us how he brought a tin rhino into school, how the children wrote some very memorable poems about it and how he had then challenged them to write another poem about an animal of their own choice.

The children have been learning about animals this term in class but for this challenge they went away and researched their chosen animal and then wrote about it in verse!

As if that wasn’t enough they then stood up in front of 150 people and read their work. They had no microphone but they spoke loudly and clearly and inspired us with their lovely poetic words and phrasing – James said he might steal some of their lines. One or two of them even wrote rhyming poems! The school plans to put their work into a book and display it in the school library.

We loved it and all the children should be very proud of themselves.




Some lines from the poems. Can you guess what the animal is?


I eat slugs and snails
I have a brown nose

I am striped like a tiger
I fear cavemen

I look like a mixture of animals
I lay eggs I don’t give birth
I squirt water that tickles

I look like an enormous worm
I have a nose like Lord Voldemort

…big ears and a body shaped like a circle
I am 4 metres tall
bigger than two adults on top of each other.

My whiskers are like wire
I hunt all day
And blend into the night
I’ll eat anything
That is in my sight.

I am black and white
like a chess board

I eat worms, slugs, snails and dog food
I say ssssssss

I’m very stinky but furry
I eat insects, bugs and worms
I’m happy when I fart in people’s faces

My tail is like a tarantula’s foot or hand

My fur is like a fluffy carpet


My tail is like bendy plastic.
My eyes are like almonds

What the children thought of the project

The children were asked a series of questions about taking part in the project and below is a summary of their answers.

What was the best thing about the project?
Writing down the poem
Learning how to write poems
Learning how to do short lines and long lines
Seeing the big metal rhino
Writing in the first person

What have you learnt in the sessions?
Learning new spellings and new words
Learning new spellings and new words (when we’re thinking)
Take a pause after a comma
You don’t read a poem quickly

Why is it good to share your work with other children?
Because they learn from you
They find new words and put them in their sentences
They can steal some words
They will know what it is like in year 3
At first you might have felt a bit scared but you overcome it
You feel proud of your work

What will you remember about this project?
How to write a poem properly
How to write a poem short
How much fun it was

Some comments from the audience
A really important experience for the children to be involved with James and Rachel to write animal poetry. We loved hearing the creativity and expression coming through from the year 3 pupils. Brilliant

I thought that the poetry was lovely, really nice how the children got to join in with that.

Really glad to see creative approach to language. Really inclusive, celebratory work, skilfully run by Mr Nash. My son loves poetry!

Great to involve the kids and include the school in LitFest.

My daughter was very excited about her poetry and being able to share it in a special assembly. It was all very novel to her! It really helped build her confidence.

Excellent poems -lots of great adjectives and enthusiasm for writing and learning about poetry.

Great event. Lovely to hear the kids sharing their work

I thought the level of poetry was amazing. So many great descriptive ideas. My son really enjoyed exploring the sessions.

James Nash and Rachel Harkess. Lots of good poems, inspiring subject - animals. All the children very confident and creative, hope they keep it up.

George really enjoyed the poetry sessions that James and Rachel ran at school. He's been writing some (very silly) poems at home, but it still counts! It's nice to see our rhyme dictionary finally get some use!

I was very proud! … thought the poems did sound more like lists of facts … maybe encourage the children to be more creative?

Brilliant. All creative input to help the children express themselves is brilliant. Thanks.

My daughter has told me all about her classes with James Nash. She has really enjoyed them. It has encouraged her to read more poems. I hope to see the event again soon.

Very good. Excellent to get the children involved I poetry - my son was really excited about the event and keen to share what he had written.

 Great to see the whole class involved as equals.

Hunter has really enjoyed working on the poetry project. He felt that it was a special and ‘grown up' project and enjoyed the development of his poem. He spent time writing it out at home in his best hand writing. My son Hunter has taken great pride in producing his poem. He was also excited about meeting a real life poet and is looking forward to telling family members of his experience.

Y. has enjoyed crafting her poem and discovering a new way to write/express. She has gained a lot of confidence through this and is now excited to share her work with everyone.

Funded by your local ward councillors of the Inner North West Community Committee

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