In this post we are going to give you some suggestions as to how you might explore the magic of a classic poem and then use it to write a more modern one.
The Land of Counterpane
This poem was written by Robert Louis Stevenson a Scottish poet and novellist. As a child he was a somewhat sickly boy and was often confined to his bed. The bed’s covering was a vibrant patchwork quilt called a counterpane. The pictures in each panel fired up his imagination and inspired him to write a number of great poems.
Using This Poem In Your Classroom
Here is the poem and following it are a number of ideas you might want to try out in your classroom.
- Read the poem aloud to establish its even, gentle rhythms and regular rhyme scheme. This video might help.
- Talk to the children about some of the factual details, e.g. who is ‘saying’ the poem; where does it all happen; what and how many toys does the child get out?
- Discuss some of the contemporary landscapes the children create, both in school and out: where they make them and what they put into them.
- Invite the children to modernise the poem by changing the old fashioned detail. So, for example, ‘was sick’ might be ‘got flu’; ‘leaden soldiers’ might become ‘stormtroopers’; the ‘counterpane’ is the ‘duvet’.
- As a way of exploring rhyme, make cards, each with one of the poem’s end rhyming words on. Shuffle the pack and ask them to be correctly paired.
- To concentrate further on the poem’s rhyme scheme, make copies of the poem, paste these onto card, and cut them up so that each verse’s final line is separate or lines 2 and 4 of each verse are presented separately. Pairs/groups can work to reassemble the poem.
- Use the archaisms of the poem as a way into children researching the favourite toys of different generations. What did their parents and grandparents play with?
- Ask the children to imagine themselves as a particular toy and write a poem in the voice of that toy, describing what they do and how they are looked after.
Mike and David at Goodeyedeers