Lesson video

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Hello, it's Mrs. Smart.

Welcome back to our English unit.

In today's lesson, we are going to be reading three more poems from John Lyons book, "Dancing in the Rain".

And we're going to be exploring and responding to them together.

So, if you are ready, let's get started.

In this lesson you will need an exercise book or some lined paper, a pen or pencil to write with, and some coloured pencils or felt tips if you've got them.

If you don't have any of those items with you right now, just pause the recording and go and get them.

So in today's lesson, we are going to look at three John Lyons poems from "Dancing in the Rain".

And I am so excited to share them with you because they are three of my absolute favourites.

So, we're going to read "Happy Hummingbird Food", "Tadpole Comets", followed by "Natural Dancing Partners".

And we will respond and explore each poem one at a time.

And then lastly, we'll end with your independent task.

So just a reminder about this book that we're focusing on in this unit, which is called "Dancing in the Rain" by John Lyons, it is a collection of poems for younger readers.

It's written and illustrated by John Lyons.

So he's done the illustration on the front and illustrations throughout.

It was shortlisted for 2016 Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award.

And it draws inspiration from his childhood in Trinidad and Tobago.

And draws on traditions of carnival and calypso in particular.

So, in last lesson, we had a look at these two poems. We looked at "Granny's Sugar Cake" and "Tell Me, Mama".

You responded to them with what you liked and disliked about them.

And then we looked at the structure and we analysed some of the language used within it to understand the meaning of the poems. Today we're going to look at three more poems in the same way.

The first poem we're going to look at is "Happy Hummingbird Food".

And you might notice straight away this beautiful illustration that goes with this poem, which is done by John Lyons, And a lot of the illustrations in the book are in black and white.

And this is one of the only colour illustrations.

As soon as I opened the pages, it really stood out to me.

Which is one reason that I love this poem among others.

We're now going to listen to John Lyons reading, "Happy Hummingbird Food" from a CLPE video.

Trinidad is known as the land of the hummingbird, and I think we've used it on stamps and things.

This is a poem called "Happy Hummingbird Food".

Hummingbird, hummingbird, humming a tune, happy in June when flowers and roses bloom, sipping nectar, its favourite food, loved also by bees.

They both enjoy it with a natural ease.

So now you've heard the poem and you've had a chance to read it.

I want you to respond to it first of all, before we think about anything else.

So what did you like about the poem? What did you dislike about the poem? Do you have any questions? What did it remind you of? Pause the recording and either have it for think or write some notes about those questions now.

Okay so, we're going to start with Happy Hummingbird's Food's structure.

So we're going to think about verses, rhyme, repetition and punctuation, just to remind you what those mean.

Verses is the way that poets split up poems. So, a little bit like the poetry version of paragraphs.

Rhyme is when words have a similar sound to them.

And often in poems, the rhyming words go at the end of the lines.

Repetition is any words or phrases that are repeated that, come up again and again within a poem.

And punctuation, I'm sure you all know what that means, but any punctuation that might be interesting within the poem.

So pause the recording, have a think about those four aspects of structure or write yourself some notes.

Okay so, let's have a think about verses to start with.

This poem's a little bit different from the ones we looked at in the last lesson, because this has just got one verse.

It isn't split up at all.

So, one verse and all the lines are very similar length.

I can see it's almost like a straight line down either side of the poem if we look at the shape of it.

In terms of the rhyme, there is a little bit of rhyme in this poem.

I wonder if you spotted any of those rhyming words.

I can see tune and June rhyme.

And, I think that is all of the rhymes in there.

Oh, bees and ease as well.

You might have spotted.

In terms of repetition, we've got hummingbird, hummingbird at the beginning, which reminded me a little bit about sugar cake, sugar cake.

Very similar there, because that poem started with the same word repeated.

And then in terms of punctuations, I mean, it was particularly interesting and this poem is it had some brackets, which normally we don't get in poems. That was a really interesting choice that John Lyons has made there.

We're now going to think about the language and the meaning of this poem.

So I want you to think about these three questions.

What is the poem about? Can you summarise it? If you was to try and summarise what this poem is about in a few sentences, have a go at doing that and what are some of those themes that come up? That's the kind of main subject or topic that the poem is about.

So, pause the recording and have a think or write yourself some notes about those questions.

So in terms of what the poem is about, I think it's about a hummingbird, which is a type of bird, which is quite common in Trinidad and Tobago.

I've been lucky enough to see one when I went to South America and thing that's really distinctive about them is, was two things that was really distinctive is they fly really, really fast.

Their wings flaps so fast that you can't even see them moving.

They're like a blur.

And actually, I'm sure I read that they're one of the only birds that can actually fly backwards.

And one of the reasons is that they hover, they stay in one place and they've got these really long sort of like a beak, which go into flowers and suck out the nectar, which is the sort of sweetness that birds take from flowers.

So the main, what the poem is about is a hummingbird sipping some nectar from a flower and bees also enjoying that.

In terms of the themes, animals are mentioned quite a lot.

So I would say animals is one of the themes that maybe we could talk about nature as well.

'Cause it is all about natural beings like animals and plants, for example.

So that's what I said.

You might've written some different ideas as well.

Now we're going to have a look at some of the language used within this poem and make sure that we understand it.

So I've highlighted a few words.

I thought you might not understand, or you might be unfamiliar with.

So let's have a look at those.

So, when it says when flowers and roses bloom, that's when the flowers come out.

So in some periods of the day, or sometimes in the year, flowers are closed away and they're hidden.

But when they come out in blooms is when they, they look their most beautiful, and you can see a really good example of that in the picture there.

sipping nectar, we've already talked about.

So you can see those long beaks that the hummingbird have, where they put them inside the middle of the flower and they sip like little drinks of sweet nectar.

Which is a little bit like, like honey or golden syrup maybe.

And then in the end it says they both enjoy it with a natural ease.

So, it's talking about how honey, also bees and hummingbirds enjoy sipping the neck, which is just really natural and really easy to them.

It's not something that's difficult to them.

It's just naturally what those animals do.

We're now going to look at this poem, which is called "Tadpole Comets".

Now, I'm not going to read it to you, John Lyons, again, is going to read "Tadpole Comets" to you from a CLP video.

I believe we have frogs, tadpoles so we have tadpoles in the Caribbean as well as in this country.

But the inspiration for this poem came from my pond in Manchester and it took a long while for me to write this poem, but it's happening in the Caribbean islands.

This is poetic licence.

Tadpole comets tadpoles huddled in a pond afraid of the Caribbean night.

It's intense darkness, candle flies moving about lighting up and going out, lighting up and going out.

The tiniest tadpole shouted, "What's that, what's that!" "They're comets, silly." cried Billy, the largest tadpole.

So I hope you enjoyed that poem.

This is your now your opportunity to respond to the poem.

So, I want you to think about these four questions again? What did you like about the poem? What did you dislike about the poem? Do you have any questions? What did it remind you of? So pause the recording and have a think about those questions.

Okay, we're now going to think about the structure of the poem.

So the verses, the rhyme, the repetition and the punctuation.

So pause the recording, have a look at the poem and write yourself some notes about those four aspects of structure.

So, I can see from looking at this full poem that there are four verses this time, two of them are slightly longer.

They're three lines longer then the last two are two lines long, so slightly uneven length of verses again.

In terms of rhyme, did you see any rhyme? I could see a little bit where it says about and going out there's a little bit of rhyme there, but generally not very much rhyme in this poem.

In terms of repetition.

Again, John Lyons clearly likes a bit of repetition in his poems. He's got lighting up and going out, lighting up and going out.

He's got that line repeated twice, and then punctuation that really stood out to me in this poem.

And again, some interesting punctuation.

In the last one, we had some brackets.

In this one, we've got some speech which has got those inverted comments or speech marks around.

I don't think I've ever seen a poem with speech in them before, so that was really interesting to me.

We're now going to think about the language and the meaning of this poem.

So, can you think about what this poem is about? Could you summarise it in a couple of sentences to explain it, and what do you think the themes are? What are the main subjects or topics that this poem is about? Pause the recording and write yourself some notes now.

I think this poem is about some tadpoles, which are in a pond at night in the Caribbean.

And they're looking up into the sky and they're seeing these flies, which are called candle flies, which maybe tells me that these flies sort of glow, which I know some flies do.

And they're looking up at the flies and one tadpoles saying to another tadpole, "What's that?" "What's that?" because they don't know what they are, they've never seen them before.

And then another tadpole says that they're comets, but actually, comets are like flying or shooting stars, but they're not comets at all.

They're actually candle flies.

It's quite funny because he says they're comets, silly, when actually Billy's the one who's being a bit silly because he's got it wrong, they're flies and not comets at all.

And then in terms of the themes, similarly to the last poem, I would say the themes are animals and nature in particular.

So, that's obviously a favourite topic or theme of John Lyons.

So, your now going to have a look at some of the language here and I've just picked out a few words that you might not be familiar with.

So the first one is huddled.

And so the tadpoles are all huddled together, which means they're all grouped and crowded together in the pond at night.

Maybe that's because they're cold or maybe that's just 'cause they like to spend time together at night.

It talks about that being a Caribbean night.

So, remember we talked about Trinidad and Tobago and two islands within the Caribbean, which are a group of islands just off the coast of South America or just South of North America as well.

And then we've got this candle flies, which are type of fly, which glows slightly in the dark.

So that's why they're called candle flies.

And then lastly, comets, I've got a picture there of a comet, which is like a shooting star and you can see there a picture of a tadpole as well.

If you're not sure what a tadpole is, they're a baby frog.

So when a frog is born and they're laid in frog spawn, and then they become tadpoles first and then very slowly over time, they grow legs and become a frog.

We're now let's look at our last poem today, which is called "Natural Dancing Partners".

And again, we're going to listen to a reading of this poem by John Lyons, from CLPE.

In Ely, near Ely where I live along the river Ouse.


There are huge weeping willows.

And one evening, walking along there and looking at these willows, an idea for this poem came, it's called "Natural Dancing Partners".

The willow and the wind are natural dancing partners.

Look how the willow weeps with the joy of movement skillfully rooted to the spot.

Their knowing to move as one is in the willows of supple limbs, bending forwards, backwards, swinging to the wind strength leading it this way and that.

I now want you to respond to this poem, thinking about what you liked and what you didn't like.

So, think about these four questions.

What did you like about the poem? What did you dislike about the poem? Do you have any questions and what did it remind you of? So pause the recording now and write yourself some notes.

We're now going to think about the structure of the poem.

So I want you to pause the recording in a moment, have a good look at the poem and think about the verses, the rhyme, the repetition, and the punctuation features within this poem.

So pause the recording now, and write yourself some notes.

So from what I can see, there are two clear verses in this poem and they're quite even in length, they're both five lines long and the lines within each, the length of the lines are quite even as well.

Actually, I can see the shape of the poem is very, very, even which is different from some of the other poems that we've looked at.

In terms of the rhyme and the repetition, there isn't really much rhyme and repetition that I can see in this poem, which is again, is different to some of the other poems we've seen and similarly not much pit punctuation, interesting punctuation other than some commas and some semi-colons.

I wonder if you've got anything different.

We're now going to think about the language and the meaning of the poem.

So what is the poem about? Could you summarise it? And what are the main themes or subjects or topics that this poem covers? So pause the recording, and write yourselves notes.

I really like this poem because it uses a very clever poetic device.

Do you know what it's called when a poet or an author give something that isn't human, like a tree, for example, a human quality? Can you tell me? Yeah, it's called personification, well done.

So John Lyons, very cleverly personifies the willow and the wind, which we know aren't human objects.

And he makes them sound as if they're human, because they're dancing together.

We know that trees and the wind don't really dance, but they do move together.

And that could be very similar to dancing.

So that's, what's happening in this poem is it's describing the movement of the willow and the wind together and personifying them as if they were two humans dancing together.

In terms of the themes of this poem.

Again, very similar to some of the other ones we've looked at in this lesson, because the main thing is to do with nature.

For example, the willow, the tree, and the wind and how they interact together.

There aren't any animals featured in this poem, which is a little bit different.

I wonder what you wrote down for themes.

We're now going to think about some of the language in this poem, so I've picked out a few words.

I'm just going to go through to make sure that you understand the meaning.

So it talks about the willow all the way through this poem and the willow is a type of tree and you can see a picture of that on the screen.

It's very distinctive because it hangs over and you can hide underneath it very successfully.

And it talks about the willow and the wind being natural dancing partners.

So you could interpret that is because they are part of nature, but also it comes very easily to them.

It's not something they need to try at.

He then goes on to describe the willow is weeping or look how the willow weeps and often willow trees are called weeping willows.

I think this is because they lean over as if they're weeping or crying.

And then it talks about how the willow is skillfully rooted to the spot.

Now if you know what a root is in a plant.

That holds a plant in place.

If you're rooted to the spot, it means you're held in position.

He then describes the willows supple limbs.

Now I think he's referring to the branches here because limbs means arms or legs.

So he's comparing the branches to arms or legs.

And he describes them as supple, which means they're very flexible and easy to move rather than being stiff.

So we're coming to the end of today's lesson and we've now looked at three different poems. So now, I want you to compare the three poems. So think about what is similar, what is different and consider the structure, language and themes of the three poems that we have read through today.

Pause the video now to complete your task.

Now, it's time for our independent tasks.

So what I would like you to do, is draw an illustration to represent each poem.

So we've read "Happy Hummingbird Food", "Tadpole Comets", and "Natural Dancing Partners".

So read through those poems again, you can rewind through the recordings so that you can see them and think about what is the meaning and how they make you feel, and then draw any images that represents that meaning, or represents how you feel about the poems. You can see a really beautiful example here on the screen that John Lyons has created to go with "Happy Hummingbird Food".

Congratulations, you have completed your lesson for today.

Well done.

If you would like to, please share your work with your parents or carer, I'm sure they would love to see some of those John Lyons poems and appreciate your beautiful illustrations.

See you in your next lesson.