Lesson Planning For Next Term? Inviting A Performance Poet To Your School?

Bernard Young in a school arms in air

A poet in your school? Why not? The right poet (I mean me! but there are lots of us) can offer an exciting start to your school day (I include guitar and just enough joining in during my morning assembly performances). The children head off to classes with loads of writing ideas already in their heads and I then work with all ages throughout the day.


Teachers tell me that having an enthusiastic practitioner of the art in the classroom has a tremendous effect on them and the children. Together (teachers, children, poet) we produce fantastic new poems and usually share them before home time. After that we all go home (apart from the teachers who have yet another after-school meeting to attend).

For some ideas for bringing poetry in to the class room see my collection of blog posts on the subject – classroom ideas. Another way is to have a look at some of my videos on YouTube. They can be used for a sing along break during the day, or as a springboard for other poems using the same patterns. If you want to discuss what I could do in your school and what it will cost, please contact me.

World Poetry Day – Friday 21 March 2014

Image of map with scrabble letters spelling World Poetry Day
CC-BY Karen Cropper http://www.flickr.com/photos/dentonpotter/11590533916

World Poetry Day (21 March each year) celebrates and promotes the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry worldwide. The day was declared an official observance day by UNESCO in 1999. But as many countries already had established traditional National Poetry Day’s around October time (in UK 2 October 2014), this worldwide celebration receives very little publicity in those countries, including the UK. But I say, the more poetry days, the merrier.

You could celebrate World Poetry Day in your school by learning about poems from different cultures, including from pupils’ own cultures. Or investigate different forms of poem, such as the Japanese Haiku or the Arabic Ruba’i.

Here are some teaching resources online that you may find useful:

To book me to visit your school for the day, see Contact page.


New video for KS1 Poetry classes – I like what I like I do

I’ve used this song for many years and find it works very well as a template for children to work on their own ideas, putting in the things that they like and looking for rhymes. As a special Christmas gift we’ve turned it into a video.

A poem to get you in the Christmas mood, with mistletoe

A face in the snow
Image copyright Bernard Young
I hope everyone out there is looking forward to Christmas and hoping it will be a white one. Some folk have already seen the first snow fall. When I think of Christmas, I think of mistletoe.

Snow and Mistletoe

My heart is beating
fast, not slow,
as I stand beneath
the mistletoe.

My face is red.
My ears aglow.
I’ve just been snogged
by Rachel Snow*.

It was GREAT!
Not so-so.
She’s a terrific kisser.
Now you know.

* This is made up. Miss Snow is no-one I know.

Bernard Young is an experienced performance poet who is available for workshops, in schools particularly primary age. He’s based in Manchester, but happy to travel further afield. Over the years he’s also worked successfully in partnership with Road Safety officers combining the road safety message with creative writing. To book Bernard for a workshop in your school, see Contact page.

Time to Wrap up and Rap

Cat wrapped in a blanket
Image Copyright Karen Cropper
Since the season of cold weather is upon us, here’s a poem for you to rap as you go about your business. Might warm you up. Particularly if you perform a little dance at the same time.

Wrap Up Rap

When the wind is blowing
And snow is on the way
Get your woolly hat on
Wrap up warm today

And sing the wrap up
Sing the wrap up
Sing the wrap up rap

Find a scarf and good thick gloves
Don’t forget your coat
Be prepared for the attack
When Jack Frost grabs your throat

And sing the wrap up
Sing the wrap up
Sing the wrap up rap

Here comes thunder
Here comes hail
Hear the thunder
Dodge the hail

And sing the wrap up
Sing the wrap up
Sing the wrap up rap

Hat for head
Socks for toes
In your scarf
Bury your nose

And sing the wrap up
Sing the wrap up
Sing that wrap up rap

Bernard Young is an experienced performance poet who is available for workshops in schools, particularly primary age. He is based in Manchester, but will travel further afield. Over the years he has also worked successfully in partnership with Road Safety officers, combining the road safety message with creative writing. For more info, see the Contact page.

Invite a poet to your school for Children’s Book Week 7-11 October 2013

Bringing a writer, poet, illustrator or storyteller into your school is a great way to inspire children and bring reading to life. The Book Trust, who organise Children’s Book Week, which is this week, have some tips on their website with simple steps for planning your event http://www.booktrust.org.uk/programmes/arranging-an-author-visit/

Illustration by Quentin Blake
Children’s book week 7-11 October

But reading is for every day not just special weeks so the same principles apply for any time of year.  Bringing in a guest writer/performer, who can give the kids and teachers a boost of energy and enthusiasm for reading and writing, is well worth the  price.

Here’s the sort of day I have when I do a day workshop in a school. Before a workshop I usually perform some of my poems (some with guitar and participation) and then give writing ideas based on what they’ve heard me do. This can result in poems for the page and/or performance.

Some are very simple – I read one, for example, (When To Cut Your Hair) which uses each day of the week and show how that can be used for any subject. For example, using football:

When To Play Football

Play football on Monday
Score a goal

Play football on Tuesday
Fall down a hole

and so on.

Another I read (they join in with this) is Brilliant, which begins

Today Mum called me brilliant
and that’s just how I feel

I’ll run a race
I’m bound to win
I’ll take up golf
Get a hole in one

Because today Mum called me brilliant
so that’s what I must be

I give ideas and examples of how they can use this structure, like this:

Today I’m feeling noisy
So that’s what I will be

I’ll run up the stairs
And stamp on the floor
I’ll run back down
And slam the door

Because today I’m feeling noisy
So that’s what I will be

I use simple choruses and repetition during the performance and show how these can easily be incorporated in their own poems, if they want to write something that is for performance.

I do find, that having heard me, they pick up the ideas very quickly, and those who need less help can use my ideas if they want to, but also have the opportunity to go their own way. And there’s scope for writing funny and serious poems.

If there are any classes where the teacher would prefer to have a go at a class poem, we can do that too. I often use guitar on the class ones and we can usually come up with a finished poem in about 30 minutes.

Usually teachers jot down my examples based on 3 or 4 of my poems and then discuss them back in the classroom.

I hope the advice on the Book Trust website and the ideas I have given here will encourage some schools to book a writer.  If you are interested in booking me, please do get in touch.

World Book Day, March 7th 2013 A day of poetry at Northlands Primary School, Rugby

WelcomeA big thank you to Northlands Primary School, Rugby for delaying World Book Day by 24 hours. Car trouble prevented me from getting there for the official event and, just like that, the school happily moved my visit to the following day.

As the photograph illustrates, on a snowy day the welcome couldn’t have been warmer.

I worked with all age groups and we had a brilliant get together before school ended to listen to new poems written and performed by the children. It was fantastic that we were joined by many parents for that.

Thanks again to the school for looking after me so well and producing some great poems.

Great visit on 25th Feb to Ribbon (Merton Community Primary School) doing Road Safety Poetry

It would seem from the write up here that the visit was a success.

“On Monday 25th February 2013 poet Bernard Young came into our school. Bernard Young is a poet who helps pupils learn about road safety in a fun and innovative way through the medium of poetry.

He began the day performing a selection of his own poems and talking to us about the different styles of poetry. For the rest of the day each class were working on class poems with help from Bernard Young, ready for a presentation in the hall at the end of the day where each class would present their poems to the rest of the school.

We also had a visit from the Area Road Safety Officer to give us a road safety talk, accompanied by the Junior Road Safety Officers.” Read more…

National Poetry Day 4th October 2012

An enthusiastic poet in the classroom has a tremendous effect, inspiring children and teachers to write and read poetry long after the poet has left. Have you planned what you are doing for National Poetry Day this year?

Bernard Young performing at Filey Primary School