Poetry

English Year 2 Autumn Poems by the Same Poet

J. Agard: The Rainmaker Danced

Use these quirky poems from The Rainmaker Danced by J. Agard as a stimulus. Poems like ‘On the run from colours’ & ‘Rooms’ provide forms & contexts for terrific imaginative writing.

Start with the core unit to introduce key texts. Then select from comprehension, SPAG and composition units.

Core
Unit 1 Core: Introduction to The Rainmaker poetry collection
(suggested as 3 days)

You Will Need

Texts
The Rainmaker Danced by John Agard

Poems
All by John Agard:
Rooms
Saluting Laika, The Sputkni Dog
More Pointless Questions
The Naming of a City
Taking Sides

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Introduce children to the work of poet John Agard and his collaborator, illustrator Satoshi Kitamura. From the collection The Rainmaker Danced, read John Agard’s poem, Rooms, exploring the poem’s structure, patterns and vocabulary with children.
Activity
Drawing on their reading and working in ability-related pairs, children write further verses to add to a class version of Rooms. They share ideas with partners and then record new lines for the poem. Some write more than one new verse, incorporating adverbs synonymous with ‘naturally’ in their compositions.

Day 2 Teaching
Continue to read poems from The Rainmaker Danced, rereading Rooms, and then sharing the poems Saluting Laika, the Spunik Dog and More Pointless Questions with children. Analyse the meanings, rhythms and rhyming structures of each poem.
Activity
Children work in ability-related pairs or small reading groups. They read and discuss either Saluting Laika, More Pointless Questions or new poem Taking Sides, sharing their feelings about each with other members of their group and answering a series of questions about each poem’s form and content.

Day 3 Teaching
Returning to The Rainmaker Danced, share poem The Naming of a City with children. Focus on the use of best handwriting and word spacing when writing simple sentences in response to the poem.
Activity
Following the example of The Naming of a City and working in ability-related pairs, children write about a person, pet or favourite toy that they would name a city after. They describe their nominee and offer an explanation for their choice. Some also discuss the monument within their city that they would erect in honour of their chosen figure.

SPAG
Unit 2 SPAG: Expanded noun phrases and description
(suggested as 2 days)

You Will Need

Texts
The Rainmaker Danced by John Agard

Poems
The Rainmaker Danced by John Agard
The Bi-phibians Are Coming by John Agard

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read children The Rainmaker Danced by John Agard and explain its meaning and imagery. Discuss descriptive writing in the poem, demonstrating in particular how nouns and noun phrases can be expanded to create more vivid and captivating descriptions.
Activity
Working in ability-related pairs, children choose a water-loving animal to write simple descriptive lines about. They make sure to expand nouns and noun phrases in their writing. Later, they read their favourite descriptions aloud to the class. Some children create riddle descriptions of particular animals, asking others in class to identify the animal about which they have written.

Day 2 Teaching
Read children John Agard’s poem The Bi-phibians Are Coming. Explain the meaning of ‘identity’ and look at the use of the bi- prefix to indicate the presence of two of something. Model composing lines about yourself in the style of The Bi-phibians, revisiting the ways in which expansion of nouns and noun phrases can be used to enhance description.
Activity
Working in ability-related pairs, children create their own verses for a class version of The Bi-phibians Are Coming. Some children also incorporate rhyme into their writing. All children use their best handwriting and word spacing to record their verses, and use question marks where needed in their lines.

Comprehension
Unit 3 Comprehension: Poetry appreciation
(suggested as 3 days)

You Will Need

Texts
The Rainmaker Danced by John Agard

Poems
All by John Agard:
On the run from colours (see resources)
The Encounter
Of course I believe in
The Balloons and the Pins

Dear Flower
Lost Sheep
(see resources)
Seagull chant (see resources)
Hello Moon, Hello Pig (see resources)

I asked a little boy who cannot see by Anon
Antigonish by Hughes Mearnes
The Cow
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read the class John Agards On The Run from Colours and the anonymous poem I Asked The Little Boy Who Cannot See, discussing each poem’s meaning and using phonics strategies to decode unfamiliar and tricky words.
Activity
Working in mixed-ability trios, children reread both On The Run from Colours and I Asked The Little Boy Who Cannot See. They talk about similarities and differences between the two poems, recording these observations as notes. They choose their favourite of the two poems and discuss reasons for their choices.

Day 2 Teaching
Read the class John Agard’s The Encounter followed by Antigonish by Hughes Mearnes. Decipher unfamiliar vocabulary and explore imagery and meaning in each poem. Look at rhythm and cadence in both. Teach children how to use alphabetic ‘coding’ to explain a poem’s rhyming pattern and use this code to describe the patterns at work in both The Encounter and Antigonish.
Activity
In small reading-ability related groups, children read and answer questions on four poems – Lost Sheep, Seagull Chant and Hello Moon, Hello Pig by John Agard as well as The Cow by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Day 3 Teaching
Read and enjoy Of Course I Believe In, The Balloons and The Pins and Dear Flower by John Agard, exploring the meaning and ‘message’ of each poem in turn. Children make links between their own experiences and feelings and those detailed in the poems.
Activity
In mixed-ability trios, children orally compose a response from the Flower to the Traveller read about in Dear Flower. All children say aloud a portion of their jointly-composed response and discuss what they like in other people’s replies.

SPAG
Unit 4 SPAG: Grammatical terminology
(suggested as 2 days)

You Will Need

Texts
The Rainmaker Danced by John Agard

Poems
Among the Hairyboos and Smoothyboos by John Agard
The Four Footed Olympians by John Agard

SPAG PDF Definitions of Grammar (see resources)
This document clearly outlines the definitions of the four word classes children need to identify at this stage: nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read children John Agard’s Among The Hairyboos and the Smoothyboos, discussing the poem’s vocabulary and meaning. Using the provided Definitions of Grammar, teach children the meaning of the grammatical terms ‘noun’ and ‘adjective’, before identifying examples of each in the poem.
Activity
In ability-related pairs children read Hairyboo and Smoothyboo Factfiles and hunt for examples of nouns and adjectives used in the text. More able children subdivide the nouns they see into different categories, noting the use of an initial capital letter when writing proper nouns.

Day 2 Teaching
Read the class The Four Footed Olympians by John Agard and use the poem as an opportunity to revisit children’s understanding of nouns and adjectives. Look again at the Definitions of Vocabulary and teach children about verbs and adverbs. With children’s help, shared write sentences about animals from the poem that employ both verbs and adverbs.
Activity
In writing ability-related pairs, children compose fun sentences about animals that use verbs and adverbs. They use different coloured pens to underline these and the nouns they have written. More able children also use and underline adjectives in their sentences.

SPAG
Unit 5 Composition: Writing a poem based on those read in class
(suggested as 4 days)

You Will Need

Texts
The Rainmaker Danced by John Agard

Poems
Dinosaur meets Electronic Mouse by John Agard

SPAG PDF Definitions of Grammar (see resources)
This document clearly outlines the definitions of the four word classes children need to identify at this stage: nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read children Dinosaur Meets Electronic Mouse, discussing the poem’s vocabulary and humour. Explain to children that they too will be writing a poem about an encounter between a dinosaur and an electronic device. Model planning to write by choosing a dinosaur, a device and a suitable meeting place for the two and recording this information as notes.
Activity
In pairs or trios, children discuss which dinosaurs and devices they will write their poem about. Having shared ideas about different possibilities, they record their choices in note form on a Poem Planner. They also note down where the encounter in the poem will take place.

Day 2 Teaching
Revisit Dinosaur Meets Electronic Mouse. Teach children to add descriptive power to their writing by using both adjectives in expanded noun phrases and powerful verbs. Introduce the concept of similes and comparisons as ways to add depth and colour to descriptive writing. Reinforce the initial capital letter at the start of a line of poetry.
Activity
In ability-related pairs or trios children independently begin drafting their poems. They write several lines about their dinosaurs and devices using expanded noun phrases, and using powerful verbs to describe their dinosaurs’ movements.

Day 3 Teaching
Continue to model drafting a dinosaur poem, reminding children of the need to use speech marks in speech and the appropriate sentence-end punctuation for questions and exclamations. Rehearse rhyming words at the end of lines of poetry. Look at alliteration as a further device to enhance rhythm and descriptive language in verse.
Activity
Children continue to independently compose drafts of their poems, composing lines detailing a conversation between their dinosaur and electronic device. They consider using rhyme and alliteration in their lines.

Day 4 Teaching
Remind children of the need to edit poems, correcting errors and looking for ways to enhance description, rhyme and rhythm. Model transcribing a draft poem into a best copy, using excellent handwriting and clear word spacing.
Activity
Children finish their work on the poems by editing their drafts and then transcribing their poems onto fresh sheets of paper in their best handwriting. They begin to think about how they might illustrate their poems.