Looking and thinking back to the summers before Lockdowns, every Year 3 class has learnt and rehearsed for a Group Performance of poetry or narrative to present to a live audience in our Chaplin Theatre. Every summer I have been in an agitated and anxious state, choosing the texts, practising with the children, shrieking with despair and whooping with delight during the process.
Last year my lovely 3Es could not take part in this due to the restrictions. This year I thought how much simpler life would be if I just forgot about the poems … and then I reconsidered!
Two weeks before the last day of term, I began by reading the gentle ‘Henry’s Song’ by Kathryn Cave to my class. The children were responsive to the story’s message about inclusivity and loved it when they realised each of them was as important and valuable as their classmates. They quickly memorised the text; Denise Lomas was amazed that I took away their scripts on the second day!
And on to ‘Heard it in the Playground’ by Allan Ahlberg! This is a rhythmic and energetic poem (described by Paul Borrows as ‘more of a football chant’ – quite appropriate really!) which 3E loved. They could not wait to be told which lines they would be saying on their own. After a couple of days I was worried that I had chosen something too complicated to do in the week left to learn it. I need not have been. On the morning of the performance poor Charlie C was ill and there was much drama in our classroom. Who would say his lines? Thanks must go to Harvey P and Alexander J.
With Miss E, the children were put into positions outside for the first time on the last morning of term. Miss E suggested using the Pre-Prep playground for Allan Ahlberg’s fun poem, and we chose the bank near the terrace as our forest setting for ‘Henry’s Song’.
I could not have asked for a better performance from these eight-year-olds. Wow! They rose to the occasion and absolutely loved it when most of the school, and all the Pre-Prep, came out on the lawn to listen to them! I am very proud of all of them (including the absent Charlie C who had practised his lines so much).
In words similar to the ending of Kathryn Cave’s story:
‘That’s perfect’, said Mrs E.
And it was.