Article: Creating a playful poem

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Playing with words and ideas by Pie Corbett Download a PDF of this text here . Several years ago, we ran this little unit of creative work. Here is what happened. The poem ‘The Cave of Curiosity’ is based on the simple idea of creating a place (cave) and linking it to an abstract idea (curiosity). To begin, we played an abstract noun game. Divide the children into pairs and sort them into ‘A’s and ‘B’s. On their mini whiteboards, ‘A’s write a list of common nouns that are places, such as park, pavement, castle, cave, etc. ‘B’s write a list of abstract nouns. It can be helpful for the children if you explain that these are things you cannot touch and with some classes brainstorm a list, e.g. happiness, jealousy, greed, kindness, etc. Some children came up with what we called ‘magical’ nouns such as stars, clouds, moon and we added those to the list of abstract nouns. Collect as many of their ideas as you can on the flipchart and show the children how they can combine their ‘A’s and ‘B’s in a variety of ways. Help the children put their ideas together. They might have a mountain summit of majesty or a tower of air or they might prefer a mountain of imagination or a tower of taste. Encourage them to say their ideas out loud and listen to the effect. We wanted them to surprise the reader with new and startling combinations and amazing juxtapositions, avoiding cliches. Having done this, we read ‘The Cave of Curiosity’ and ‘In the City of Silences’. We read the first poem several times, with the children joining in on the second [...]