Always keen to introduce young children to poetry, for some years I ran a Poetry Club for years 1 and 2 at the Primary School where I was a Governor. We met during lunchtime for approximately 25 minutes for each group and it was entirely voluntary, but I kept a register and was delighted when the children returned regularly each week. I had noticed over the years that sadly Nursery Rhymes seem to have fallen out of fashion, and I was keen that the children should learn as many as possible. I think they are important as, 1: they tell a story all wrapped up within a few lines, 2: they have rhythm, 3: they have rhyme, and 4: they are easy to remember. They also lend themselves to being acted out or mimed. I used them as an exercise in changing the tone of our voices, for instance taking Humpty Dumpty, as an example, and saying it as if we were angry/sad/shy/giggly, etc. As they were saying the words altogether no-one felt embarrassed and the results were pretty good. Another way I would use the Rhymes would be to have the children stand in a circle and have one child start the rhyme with the first word, the next child say the second and so on, and this helped them to listen and follow on quickly. When they got to know a few rhymes fairly well we played a game where I handed out the first line to half the class, and another line to the other half and asked them to find their ‘partner’. I would love to think that Nursery Rhymes still have a part to play in our culture – I certainly own some beautifully illustrated books which I was pleased to share with the children.

Penny Lambert

July article – Primary School Poetry Club