New Video – Anything – Poem Set to Music

We have made a new video over the last few days. I composed a short piece of music to accompany my poem Anything. The poem is about friendship and is suitable for younger children (KS1), but it is likely to appeal to older students (KS2) as well. This poem is in my new book, What Are You Like, which is due for release 23 February 2018.

Karen, my wife, is the guest performer reading the poem and also she made the video. The images are all shared by Creative Commons License. They are credited in the description on YouTube and below the video here.

Images in their order of appearance:

  1. kittens CC-BY-SA Susan https://flic.kr/p/52JU7z
  2. Chicks CC-BY-NC Andy Purvlance https://flic.kr/p/665D8X
  3. Labrador-Puppy CC-BY Tyler Allen https://flic.kr/p/a1gG6S
  4. Baby’s Best Friend CC-BY Brandon Atkinson https://flic.kr/p/96KrY6
  5. Buds CC-BY Juhan Sonin https://flic.kr/p/6DSpcV
  6. kids CC0 klimkin https://pixabay.com/en/kids-girl-pencil-drawing-notebook-1093758/
  7. children CC0 Bess Hamiti https://pixabay.com/en/child-children-girl-happy-people-817369/
  8. Best Friends CC-BY-SA Rod Waddington https://flic.kr/p/Wq9E51
  9. girls whispering CC0 Olichel https://pixabay.com/en/girls-whispering-best-friends-young-914823/
  10. Handsome Indian boys CC-BY Nithi Anand https://flic.kr/p/qpzJmX
  11. Cups Full of Chats CC-BY-NC Mo Riza https://flic.kr/p/3JM8pt
  12. Best friends CC-BY Robert de Bock https://flic.kr/p/UsGxgR
  13. The Cat-Circle of Love CC-BY-NC Gloson Teh https://flic.kr/p/8119Px
  14. Maternal instinct CC-BY-ND Tambako The Jaguar https://flic.kr/p/Muizu
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Wearing odd socks for Anti-Bullying Week #AllDifferentAllEqual

photo of feet copyright Bernard Young

Odd Socks Day is designed to be fun! It’s an opportunity for children to express themselves and appreciate individuality and uniqueness! Schools across the country are holding Odd Socks Days as part of Anti-Bullying Week (13th-17th November). I’m looking forward to going to one of my Patron of Reading schools, Summerville Primary School in Salford, tomorrow, where we will be reading and writing poems on an anti-bullying theme.

If you are looking for ideas on how to use poetry for anti-bullying lessons, I listed some resources in a previous post here.

While we are on socks, here’s one of my poems that is from Brilliant and will also be in my new children’s poetry book due to be published soon.

Orange Socks

Orange socks
Orange socks
I’ve seen a girl wearing orange socks

Not blue not black
Not violet not pink

Orange socks
They make me think

of red hot days
the sun up above
when you don’t need your scarf
you don’t need your gloves

Orange socks
Orange socks
Who’s that girl wearing orange socks?

Not brown not grey
Not yellow not green

But the orangiest orange
that I’ve ever seen

Orange socks
I like the style
Orange socks
They make me smile

Orange socks
Orange socks
Glad I saw that girl in those orange socks

Anti-Bullying Week: All Different, All Equal

13th-17th November 2017 is Anti-Bullying Week #AntiBullyingWeek #AllDifferentAllEqual

Poetry is a great way to get young people thinking and talking about the issues and feelings linked to bullying and friendship in a positive and fun way. I’m looking forward to doing poetry workshops at Summerville Primary School in Salford on Thursday 16th November as part of our Patron of Reading relationship. We’ll be reading and writing some poems on this theme.

Anti-Bullying Resources

There are loads of great resources for lessons and activities in school on the theme of anti-bullying for this special week and throughout the year here: http://www.actionwork.com/bullyingresources.html

I’ve listed more resources at the bottom of this post.

A Poem

Below is a poem of mine from “Brilliant” that was also included in an anthology of poems compiled by Brian Moses, “Best of Enemies, Best of Friends” (2011). Even though right on topic, that book is hard to get hold of now. There is a new book due to come out January 2018, “The Same Inside: Poems about Empathy and Friendship” by Liz Brownlee, Roger Stevens and Matt Goodfellow.

I wish I was a robot

When robots are fighting
they don’t feel pain.
They bash one another
again and again.

They clang when they clash
They rattle and crunch.
Have head-on collisions
and don’t stop for lunch.

I wish I was like them
then I’d suffer no pain
when punched and kicked
and punched again.

If I was a robot
I could cope with a lot.
If I was a robot.
But, sadly, I’m not.

The Effect Of Poetry

When children are being bullied they cannot always put their feelings into words. Reading and writing poetry helps them to articulate those feelings. It can help by making them realise that others have felt the same way too. It also can help bullies to have more empathy to change their behaviour.

Even where there are no issues of bullying in your school, focussing on positive messages of what being a good friend is all about is also a great thing to do.  Here is a popular poem of mine, “Best Friends”, in video format:

Odd Socks Day: Monday 13th November

As part of Anti-Bullying Week, on the first day, (Monday 13th November) the organisers are asking schools across the country to hold an ‘Odd Socks Day for Anti-Bullying Week’.

Aimed at early years and primary school children, the day encourages young children to wear odd socks for the day, celebrating their uniqueness. Odd Socks Day is designed to be fun! It’s an opportunity for children to express themselves and appreciate individuality. There is no pressure on the children to wear the latest fashion or for parents to buy expensive costumes. All they have to do to take part is wear odd socks to school, it couldn’t be simpler!

More info: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/63635-anti-bullying-week-2017

Other Poetry Resources on Bullying and Friendship Theme

  1. A downloadable poem by Brian Moses about friendship taken from “Best of Enemies, Best of Friends”. Also included: information about bullying, teaching notes, class discussion activities and worksheets to use in English and PSHE. https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/bullying-and-friendship-6085881 (requires logon to download)
  2. 7 Poems on the Theme of Bullying https://nobullying.com/poems-about-bullying/
  3. Article about catharsis for kids reading or writing poems about bullying by having their feelings articulated http://nobullying.com/bullying-and-poetry/
  4. ‘The Bully’ poem poster from https://education.scholastic.co.uk/resources/7720 (requires logon)
  5. ‘I’ll be there for you’ anti-bullying poem poster from https://education.scholastic.co.uk/resources/60709 (requires logon)

Poster available from https://education.scholastic.co.uk/resources/7720Anti-bulying poem poster available from https://education.scholastic.co.uk/resources/60709

What does it feel like to be in someone else’s shoes? Empathy Heroes Day

A man's foot with a old lady's feet in the background copyright Bernard Young

I’m looking forward to the first Patron of Reading visit to Oldham Hulme Grammar School Juniors on Tuesday. I will be leading poetry workshops using people’s shoes as inspiration for Empathy Heroes Day. I thought I’d repost a poem of mine along these lines as an example. This poem was inspired by the photo above.

The Visitor

When he arrives
she wonders who’s come?
He kisses her cheek
and calls her Mum.

After he’s been
she forgets that he came.
She can’t picture his face
or recall his name.

This poem and photograph was first published on blipfoto.com on 30th May 2013.

Hull City of Culture, National Poetry Day and the Theme of Freedom

Freedom definition National Poetry Day Theme 2017 Bernard Young
Please scroll down for lesson ideas, a video and text of my poem.

Hull, City of Culture

I was very pleased when I learnt that Hull was going to be City of Culture for 2017. I’ve visited most schools in Hull over the years, and know the city well. When I stayed a few days in 2016 to visit Thoresby Primary School, the city centre was in a state of major refurbishment in preparation for all of the activities. The arts and cultural programme for the year celebrates the unique character of the city, its people, history and geography. I think it will be very good for the city and people. You can read more about the City of Culture on their website, https://www.hull2017.co.uk/.

National Poetry Day

This year National Poetry Day is on Thursday 28 September – a little earlier than usual. This is because the organisers, Forward Arts Foundation, are working closely with the BBC and Hull City of Culture on “a celebration that will ensure still more are involved closely in enjoying, discovering and sharing poetry, all year round.”

National Poetry Day Theme Freedom 28 Sept 2017

Freedom Theme

The theme of Freedom is prominent in Hull, because of the sadness about previous prosperity linked to the slave trade, and the celebration of William Wilberforce, a native of the city, whose leadership of the movement opposing slavery eventually led to its abolition in the British Empire, through the Slavery Abolition Act 1826.

Throughout the year of culture there are events linked to the theme Freedom, including the Freedom Festival, 1-3 September 2017.

Using the Theme of Freedom on School Visits

Last week I visited Cavendish Primary School in Hull. After giving a performance to the whole school, I led poetry workshops on the theme of Freedom with foundation and year 1 classes before lunch, and with year 4 in the afternoon.

“Lots of lovely feedback from the classes you’ve been with today and we (foundation stage) wrote our own poem in the afternoon.” Karen Richardson, Cavendish School.

I also visited Thoresby Primary School, Hull, in May this year for the third consecutive year. Freedom was a theme we focussed on in 2015. Last year we covered Heroes, and this year we concentrated on one of Hull’s famous daughters, the boxer, Barbara Buttrick (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Buttrick).

Lesson Ideas for Poetry Linked to Freedom

There are some ideas for a lesson using one of my poems below, and more ideas like this are available from the National Poetry Day website, http://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/education/. The suggestion below is intended to be a part of wider lessons and discussion about the definition of freedom and different ways to be free or not free.

Watch this video of my poem ‘Summer‘:

Read the poem aloud again after watching the video (full text below). Ask pupils questions like:

  • How does the poem make you feel?
  • How do you think the person speaking in the poem feels?
  • Have you ever felt this free?
  • What other things do you like doing that make you feel this free?
  • How does the poem sound different being read on the page and having the music and pictures?

Encourage the children to think about words and phrases. Write things they suggest on post-it notes or on the board.

When I work with younger children, we often compose a class poem, with a tune, but music isn’t necessary.

If you use this poem as a model, it doesn’t need to be about football. Your opening line could start with “You” or “We” or “I” and be about another subject.

For example:

  • “I’ve finished doing my homework, and now I’m going to…” or
  • “I’ve finished tidying my room, and now I’m going to…”

For older children, I give the option of working alone, or in a pair or (with the teacher’s approval!) in groups of 3 or 4, to write their own similar poem.

You could ask the students to look at the pattern of this poem, and look at which lines rhyme and which don’t. Also ask them to listen to the rhythm of the syllables.

I find it is also a good part of the lesson if finished poems are read out at the end, either the teacher reading them, or, better still, the writers.

I hope this all gives you some ideas. If you would like me to come along to your school for your own performance and poetry workshops, please contact me.

Summer by Bernard Young

You’ve finished playing football
You’re lying on the grass
Thinking about the goal you scored
Reliving that brilliant pass

Summer is the future
School is in the past
This is a perfect moment
If only it would last

Just you and your mates relaxing
In the heat after the game
Everyone’s a winner
You all feel the same

Summer is the future
School is in the past
This is a perfect moment
If only it could last

This poem is covered by copyright. You may use a copy of it in your class, but not reproduce it in any publication without prior permission. I’d love to see any poems inspired it.

Boxing Day

dscn7233

Boxing Day

It’s the day to
be a contender
and go the distance

It’s the day to
face the foe
toe to toe

It’s the day to
bob and weave
and float like a butterfly

It’s the day to
ensure
you don’t have a glass jaw

It’s the day to
roll with the punches
and not be out for the count

It’s not the day to
howl
and throw in the towel

Apple Thoughts on Apple Day

a group of apples

Image credit: Apple Gala Golden Delicious Jonathon Orchard CC-BY Jackson’s Orchard https://flic.kr/p/s6RjYb

As it’s Apple Day, I’ve had apples on my mind. Apple Day (21 October every year) was launched by Common Ground in 1990 to celebrate the wide variety of apples and to contemplate the risks of losing the diversity of this wonderful fruit. Apples feature richly in our culture from the temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden to the temptation to buy the latest smartphone. These are my thoughts in poetry form.

Apple Thoughts On Apple Day

(i)
Lots of people
love apples.

We’re tempted by the shiny skin
and the lively taste
that lies within.

And we adore the humble apple
in crumbles
and in pies.

(ii)
When I see an innocent apple
hanging from a tree
I make a wish that no mishap’ll
befall him.

(iii)
In my day,
when young people
wanted to experiment with alcohol
they opted for cider.

Do they still?

As a teenage kid
I never did.
I preferred beer.

(iv)
I’m picturing a billionaire businessman
in a shiny green appleskin suit
sitting behind a desk
in the Big Apple,
apple juice running down his chin
as he bites into a big red one.

(v)
The Beatles christened
their company and record label Apple.
I remember ‘Hey Jude’
revolving on the turntable
and watching the Apple logo
go round and round.

Tasty song.

(vi)
Apple Day,
by the way,
is nothing to do with computers.

(vii)
I guess
some people
whose livelihood/ business
is apples

are obsessed
with them?

(viii)
Is it bonkers
to be bananas
about apples?

A Message from two children for National Poetry Day

Poem from Bernard Young visit to a school on National Poetry Day

We had a great time writing messages poems for National Poetry Day at St Paul’s Primary in Worsley today. Well done everyone and keep it up! Here is an example from Amy and Hadley.

Dear Mr Poet
I’m out of ideas,
And don’t I know it,
If I don’t get started,
I’ll be here all night,
And that’s just not right!

Dear Mr Poet
Thanks for the lesson,
To you I owe it,
My ideas were great,
I picked up a pen,
And I wrote it down,
Miss gave it a ten!

Dear Mr Poet
Thanks again

Another Message Poem for National Poetry Day on 6 October

DSCF6640

National Poetry Day takes place the first Thursday in October every year in the UK. Each year there is a theme and this year it is MESSAGES. Here is another poem of mine on that theme to give you some inspiration.

Message From A Miserable Tortoise

To whom it may concern,

Don’t expect
to see me today.

I’m fed up.
Depressed.
Withdrawn.

You can knock as hard as you like.
I’m not coming out.
Not even for a lettuce leaf.

I’m a hard nut to crack.
An unsociable bone.

Leave me alone.

I’m already booked for the actual day of National Poetry Day, but still have some slots that week, if you want to have me come to your school to kick off the creativity, or any other time of year is good too. Just contact me for availability and price.

NPD2016-9

A Reassuring Message – Free Teaching Resources for National Poetry Day

NPD2016-8

I hope all the teachers out there are having a lovely time still on holiday, sipping ice cold drinks, basking in the sunshine. But for those already thinking about returning back to school and lesson planning, there are some FREE LESSON PLANS and other resources for National Poetry Day on the NPD website.

Maybe a competition will provide some motivation. Here are some to look into:

npd2016-10

National Poetry Day takes place the first Thursday in October every year in the UK. Each year there is a theme and this year it is MESSAGES. Here is a poem of mine on that theme to give you some inspiration.

A Reassuring Message

Anything that’s broken
I will mend

Anything that needs to go
I will send

Anytime you call me
I shall attend

You can ask me anything
I am your friend

I’m already booked for the actual day of National Poetry Day, but still have some slots that week, if you want to have me come to your school to kick off the creativity, or any other time of year is good too. Just contact me for availability and price.

National Poetry Day is the first Thursday in October. Book a Poet www.bernardyoung.co.uk