lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

National Poetry Day Book: Poetry for a Change, Poem Plus Teaching Notes

This wonderful book(Otrer-Barry) is full of poems by the National Poetry Ambassadors on the theme for National Poetry Day of Change. I’m one of them, and my poem is below with the teachers’ notes which were prepared by the WONDERFUL CLPE (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education). I really recommend this book, the poems are gorgeous, and you can download the teachers’ notes for all the poems here.

.

Snow Fox

 

In the Arctic summer

the cloud-grey fox

listens for prey

in the low shrubs and rocks

 

hidden and still

as the permafrost ground

his senses vivid

with scent and sound

 

when lemmings are hidden

under the snow,

the wild geese are flown

and biting winds blow

 

a horizon-less white

shrouds the Arctic fox

in clouds of snow fur

from tail tip to socks

 

he haunts frozen sea

as thin as the air

hoping for scraps

missed by polar bear

 

or curls in his tail

from the star-cold white

chewing on hunger

through long arctic night

 

and waits for spring sun

and pale Arctic day

to melt tundra snow

and his white coat away

 

© Liz Brownlee

 

Here are the teaching notes for this poem, prepared by the CLPE.

Read aloud Snow Fox by Liz Brownlee

Have the children ever seen an Arctic Fox before? Share the following video so that children can explore language and concepts from the poem in context: Arctic Fox Video. 

Re-read the poem, with a large copy of the text displayed for the children to see whilst you read. Discuss the language and concepts used more fully, clarifying unknown language, relating to what children have seen in the video. Look at how the poem is presented on the page, a narrow column surrounded by white space giving a sense of the fox alone in the “horizon-less white” landscape.

Give time for the children to respond more deeply to this poem. How does it compare or contrast with other poems studied? What feelings do they associate with the poem? How do they feel about the fox? What is its life like on the Arctic tundra? Either as a class or in smaller mixed groups, allow time to make notes and observations around a large copy of the poem.

If you want to study this habitat more widely as part of cross-curricular work, the BBC Nature website has a suite of videos and information at: BBC Tundra Habitat Video.

Now read aloud Something Told the Wild Geese by Rachel Field which Liz Brownlee chose as a companion piece to her poem.

.

Something Told the Wild Geese

Rachel Field

 

Something told the wild geese

It was time to go.

Though the fields lay golden

Something whispered,—‘Snow.’

Leaves were green and stirring,

Berries, luster-glossed,

 

But beneath warm feathers

Something cautioned,—‘Frost.’

All the sagging orchards

Steamed with amber spice,

But each wild breast stiffened

At remembered ice.

Something told the wild geese

It was time to fly,—

Summer sun was on their wings,

Winter in their cry.

 

What similarities are there between the two poems? How are they different? They may begin to make connections between the two poems read, for example, noticing how both poems follow an ABCB rhyme scheme. Gain some initial responses to the poem. What do the children think it is about? What do they already know about animal migration? Watch some videos that will help explain the process to the children such as: BBC Snow Geese Video. Watch geese in flight at: Wild Geese In Flight.  You can also find out more about snow geese, including their relationship with Arctic foxes at: Snow Geese and Arctic Foxes.

Re-read the poem and allow time to discuss the language and concepts used more fully, clarifying unknown language, relating to what children have seen in the video. What feelings do they associate with the poem? What questions do they have about the poem? How might it feel to see the sudden take off of all these geese?

(This is me – here is a wonderful poem by Susan Richardson, read by Slavka Liskova, which describes Wild Geese as well as their flight, with thrilling words, at the bottom of this post after the CLPE notes.)

Either as a class or in smaller mixed groups, allow time to make notes and observations around a large copy of the poem. Now allow time for the children to watch videos of the Arctic fox and geese again, this time using notebooks or whiteboards to write words and phrases about the animals in action, doing this yourself as a teacher-writer alongside the children. Model how to build these up into a poem of your own about either the fox or geese. Allow time for the children to do the same, constructing their own group or individual poems. When the children are happy with their compositions allow time for these to be published in a variety of ways, for example as audio recordings, video performances, or written or typed up for display.

Wild Geese Poem, Snow Geese Solstice, by Susan Richardson

 

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