Poetry

English Year 4 Autumn Poems on a Theme

Raining Cats and Dogs

It’s Raining Cats and Dogs! Explore poems about dogs and cats. Investigate form and language and make comparisons. Write a poem from the point of view of a pet.

We recommend that you start with the core unit, the heart of this English block of study. This introduces key textual material and sets the tone for any further units you wish to teach. These can be selected on the basis of the needs of your class – look at the green icons to identify the unit’s particular focus: SPAG, Composition or Comprehension. Whichever units you choose, we suggest teaching them in order, as there is a built-in progression indicated by the numbering.

‘UNIT PLAN’ gives you a text version of all parts of the unit to use in your school planning documentation. ‘DOWNLOAD ALL FILES’ gives you that unit plan plus all of the associated documents.

Core
Unit 1 Core: Form, structure and language in poems
(suggested as 2 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
None for this unit

Word Reading
-- Apply growing knowledge of etymology to understand new words.

Comprehension
-- Listen to and discuss a wide range of poetry.
-- Use dictionaries to check meaning of words.
-- Recognise different forms of poetry.
-- Identify how language and structure contribute to meaning.

 


-- Discuss words and phrases that capture the readers’ imagination.
-- Recognise different forms of poetry.

Transcription
None for this unit

Composition
None for this unit

Grammar
None for this unit

You Will Need

Poems
Storm by Roger McGough (see resources)
I Did Not Eat the Goldfish by Roger Stevens (see resources)
Mother Doesn't Want a Dog by Judith Viorst (see resources)
The Poem Cat by Erica Jong (see resources)

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Explain that we will be looking at a variety of poems about cats and dogs. Discuss children’s own experiences in relation to these animals. Explain that the expression ‘It’s raining cats and dogs’ is very old and discuss its origins. Read Storm by Roger McGough and discuss what an analogy is.
Activity
Put children in pairs, each with a copy of the poem. They discuss the analogy that McGough draws. They also discuss the form and structure of the poem. Children make notes so they can report back to the rest of the class.

Day 2 Teaching
Read poem I Did Not Eat the Goldfish by Roger Stevens. Discuss its form - a term used to refer to its structure. Draw out that the poet has used simple vocabulary. It isn’t very flowery or over-descriptive - no hard phrases, words or similes. Consult the class: Do the form and language fit the content?
Activity
Put children in small groups, each with a copy of one of the poems. Children read their poem in unison. They use the resource sheet on Form and Language and talk about each of the questions (see resources).

SPAG
Unit 2 SPAG: Identifying/using pronouns and possessives, including apostrophes
(suggested as 3 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
None for this unit

Word Reading
None for this unit

Comprehension
None for this unit

Transcription
-- Place the possessive apostrophe accurately.

Composition
None for this unit

 

Grammar
-- Choose nouns or pronouns appropriately for clarity and cohesion and to avoid repetition (grammar specifics). Make appropriate choice of pronoun or noun within and across sentences to aid cohesion and avoid repetition.
-- Indicate possession by using the possessive apostrophe with plural nouns (grammar specifics). The grammatical difference between plural and possessive ‘s’.

You Will Need

Poems
The Blind Dog by Clare Bevan (see resources)
Lone Dog by Irene Rutherford McLeod (see resources)

Presentations
SPAG PowerPoint: Pronouns
SPAG PowerPoint: Apostrophes

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read The Blind Dog by Claire Bevan. Use the Pronouns PowerPoint. Discuss the fact that there are three different types of pronouns: Personal, possessive and relative. Explain that today we are looking just at personal pronouns.
Activity
Children take a copy of the Grammar Pronouns Sheet. They can either work in pairs or individually. Suggest that children try nouns instead of the pronouns. This shows how the pronouns ‘stand in for’ the nouns they replace.

Day 2 Teaching
Show Lone Dog and read it together. Use parts of this poem to identify personal pronouns and also determiners and possessive pronouns. Point out that determiners do not replace a noun they qualify it.
Activity
Children can either work in pairs or individually. Give each pair/child the two sheets: Pronouns and Possessives. Children do both sheets. If some children tend to work slowly, ask them to write just one sentence of their own.

Day 3 Teaching
Display and re-read The Blind Dog. Use this poem to introduce and discuss possessive apostrophes, e.g. It is the lady dog’s perfumed path. Show how we can write this using an apostrophe. The lady dog’s perfume. Go through other examples including plurals and words ending in ‘s’.
Activity
Children have a sheet for each pair. The first sheet is easier, the second is more challenging. Children who complete these sheets should do the third pronoun sheet: Three types of pronoun (see resources).

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Pronouns PowerPoint
Explain what a pronoun is and then work through the different types: Personal, possessive and relative. Help children to distinguish possessive pronouns from possessive determiners.

Apostrophes PowerPoint
Teach children about apostrophes in contractions and indicating possession. Model how possessive apostrophes are used in words ending with ‘s’ and plurals.

Composition
Unit 3 Composition: Comparing two poems
(suggested as 2 days)

Objectives

Spoken language
None for this unit

Word reading
None for this unit

Comprehension
-- Discuss words and phrases that capture the readers’ imagination.
-- Identify how language and structure contribute to meaning.
-- Recognise some different forms of poetry.

Transcription
-- Join letters as appropriate.

 

Composition
-- Discuss writing similar to that which they are going to write in order to understand/learn from its structure, vocabulary and grammar.
-- Discuss and record ideas.
-- Compose and rehearse sentences orally building a rich, varied vocabulary and an increased range of sentence structures.
-- Organise paragraphs round a theme.
-- Propose changes to grammar/vocabulary to improve consistency, including accurate use of pronouns in sentences.

Grammar
None for this unit

You Will Need

Poems
Tabby by Grace Nichols (see resources)
My Dog by Vernon Scannell (see resources)

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Enlarge and look at Tabby by Grace Nichols and My Dog by Vernon Scannell. Read both poems together. Discuss the language and form of each poem. Then ask children to talk with a partner about the subject matter. How is the content different in each poem? What are the two approaches to a pet?
Activity
Children read/discuss the two poems in mixed ability groups of 3 or 4. They say which they prefer and give reasons. What is different in the poems? Which style is preferred? Which form? What do the poems have in common? They make notes.

Day 2 Teaching
Enlarge the heading sheet (see resources) and display one for each poem. Read and discuss the headings: Form/structure, Language/vocabulary and Subject matter. Write some ideas on the sheets under the corresponding heading. Explain that these ideas will help them to structure their ideas when they write their comparisons.
Activity
Children write their comparison of the two poems, winding up with explaining which one they like best and why. Children can use the headings as prompts (see resources). Remind them to keep referring back to the poems when making their comparisons.

SPAG
Unit 4 SPAG: Rehearsing pronouns; writing dialogue
(suggested as 2 days)

Objectives

Spoken language
None for this unit

Word reading
None for this unit

Comprehension
None for this unit

Transcription
-- Place the possessive apostrophe accurately.

Composition
-- Compose and rehearse sentences orally, including dialogue.

 

Grammar
-- Using and punctuating direct speech.
-- Choosing nouns or pronouns appropriately for clarity and cohesion and to avoid repetition.
-- Indicating possession by using the possessive apostrophe with plural nouns (grammar specifics). The grammatical difference between plural and possessive ‘s’.

You Will Need

Poems
Black Cat by Suzanne Elvidge (see resources)
The Black Cat's Conversation by Elizabeth Jennings (see resources)

Presentations
SPAG PowerPoint: Pronouns
SPAG PowerPoint: Punctuating direct speech

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read Black Cat by Suzanne Elvidge and The Black Cat’s Conversation by Elizabeth Jennings. Look at form and language; discuss the person in which each poem is written. Remind children of pronouns, using the PowerPoint. Rehearse the different types and the determiners, such as his and her. Rehearse possessive apostrophes and also apostrophes used for contractions.
Activity
Give out the sheet with the passage about Cats and Dogs. In small groups, children identify the personal pronouns, then the relative pronouns, then the possessive pronouns, checking carefully. Then they identify the possessive determiners. Finally they identify the apostrophes.

Day 2 Teaching
Re-read The Black Cat’s Conversation. Children then discuss in small groups the pets they have had/known. They then imagine a conversation with a pet. Show the PowerPoint on Dialogue punctuation and rehearse this with the children. Shared write the start of a conversation between a pet and owner.
Activity
Children think of a pet, and what it might say. What will the pet notice about them (the owner)? What might it get up to in the house? How might the pet feel about living in the house, maybe sharing it with other animals? They write each line of dialogue using the rules of punctuating dialogue.

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Pronouns PowerPoint
Explain what a pronoun is and then work through the different types: Personal, possessive and relative. Help children to distinguish possessive pronouns from possessive determiners.

Punctuating Direct Speech PowerPoint
Describe how speech marks ‘hug’ what is said, and then model using end-of-speech punctuation correctly and also using and punctuating reporting

Composition
Unit 5 Composition: Poetry appreciation
(suggested as 2 days)

Objectives

Spoken language
None for this unit

Word Reading
-- Apply growing knowledge of etymology to understand new words.

Comprehension
-- Listen to and discuss a wide range of poetry.
-- Use dictionaries to check meaning of words.
-- Discuss words and phrases that capture the reader’s imagination.

Transcription
-- Spell new words correctly.

 

Composition
-- Organise paragraphs around a theme.
-- Compose and rehearse sentences orally, progressively building a varied and rich vocabulary and an increasing range of sentence structures.
-- In non-narrative, using simple organisational devices.

Grammar
-- Use pronouns and possessives in own writing to avoid repetition and for cohesion.

You Will Need

Poems
Tomcat by Don Marquis (see resources)

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read Tomcat by Don Marquis. Discuss/note that this poem is famous for the imagery it uses. What is imagery? Encourage children to look at the poem and to point out images that they notice and like. Record these on the board. Explain to children that tomorrow they will write an ‘Appreciation’ of the poem.
Activity
Put children in pairs, each with a copy of the poem plus Imagery recording sheet. They go through the poem together, working out the meanings of hard words/phrases. They write what they think the poet is trying to say in their own words. Children then choose some good imagery.

Day 2 Teaching
Explain that children are going to write their appreciation of Tomcat. They will need to outline the subject matter and then say whether the form and content are appropriate to the content and how these help the poet to achieve his aim. They also need to draw on the imagery and explain how these images are effective.
Activity
Children write their appreciation of Tomcat and set out their work as discussed, using their notes from yesterday. While children write, remind them to use pronouns to avoid repetition and apostrophes when talking about the cat.

Composition
Unit 6 Creative writing: Write a poem in the style of one read
(suggested as 3 days)

Objectives

Spoken Language
-- Listen and respond appropriately to their peers.
-- Participate actively in collaborative conversations.
-- Speak audibly and with an increasing command of standard English.
-- Participate in discussions and performances.
-- Gain maintain and monitor the interest of the listener.

Word reading
None for this unit

Comprehension
-- Prepare poems to read aloud and perform, showing understanding through intonation, tone, volume and action.
-- Identify how language, structure, presentation and form contribute to meaning.

 

Transcription
-- Spell new words correctly.

Composition
-- Discuss writing similar to that which they are going to write about.
-- Discuss and record ideas.
-- Compose and rehearse sentences orally, progressively building a varied and rich vocabulary and an increasing range of sentence structure.
-- Read aloud their own writing to others.

Grammar
None for this unit

You Will Need

Poems
The Kitten at Play by William Wordsworth (see resources)
The Woodman's Dog by William Cowper (see resources)
The Rag Doll to the Heedless Child by David Harsent (see resources)

Teaching and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read The Kitten at Play by William Wordsworth and The Woodman’s Dog by William Cowper, both very famous poets. Look at their form: the rhyming pattern, the rhythm and discuss free verse. Explore the language and look at the images. Re-read Tom Cat. Which poem did they like best?
Activity
Organise children into mixed ability 2s/3s, each with a copy of Tomcat. Explain that by the end of the lesson they are to have learnt as much of the poem as possible. They choose to remember 1 or more lines each then put them together or learn as many lines as they can all saying it in unison.

Day 2 Teaching
Say that our last poem is not actually about a pet. Read The Rag Doll to the Heedless Child by David Harsent. Discuss the person it is written in, and to whom the rag doll is talking. Identify form, discuss rhyme, rhythm, language. Relate this rag doll to a pet. Can pets speak their love for us? No, because they do not have words. What might they say to their owners if they could?
Activity
Explain to children that today they will explore ideas for writing their own poem in the same style as Rag Doll but written as if from a pet to them. They should brainstorm what their chosen pet might want to say to them. They make notes for tomorrow.

Day 3 Teaching
Share children’s ideas for their own poems. Today they will write their own poems based on the rag doll one. Remind them that it will be written in free verse so it doesn’t need to rhyme or have a regular rhythm. It needs to be written in the first person from the point of view of the pet. Discuss what is a good first line to draw the reader or listener in.
Activity
Children write their poem about their pet. They think about how it will start, it might begin the same way as the original. (I love you with all my furry/feathery heart). A few very well chosen images are better than a long poem with no powerful language or imagery.