Posted in Writing Ideas

If The World Was Crazy, What Might It Look Like?

In this post, we are going to look at a poem by Shel Silverstein and give some ideas as to how it might be used.

This gives the children a chance to read some excellent poetry and then study it in detail and use what they discover to write poems of their own.

Shel Silverstein

For over 30 years Shel Silverstein was Mr Children’s Poetry in the United States, where his books sold in their millions.

What marks his work out is that, as well as writing the poems, he illustrated them, thus giving the pages of his books a wonderfully complete feel.

Check out some of his books, including, A Light In the Attic and  Falling Up and his last one, Where The Sidewalk Ends.


7 Ideas For The Classroom 

All the ideas suggested here are ones that David Horner, from Goodeyedeers, has tried and tested with children in many different schools.

The poem we are going to look at is called, ‘If The World Was Crazy’ and is taken from Shel Silverstein’s book, Where The Sidewalk Ends. 

Shel Silverstein's poem - 'If The World Was Crazy'

Here are David’s  ideas on how you might use this poem with your children:

  1. This poem needs to be read aloud – and more than once – for children to pick up both its clever details and its direct rhythms.
  2. Get the children to prepare a reading for performance. You might even want to create an animated version of the reading as in this example.
  3. Cover the final word in each pair of lines. Be ready for the children to give you some inspired alternatives! Can they be even crazier than Shel’s?
  4. See if you can change some of the original content to invent new elements of the crazy world, e.g. you might alter lines 2-4 of verse 3 to:

I’d fly on my duvet and sleep in my shoe
I’d run under water and float in the air
I’d climb up the bathtub and wash on the stair

  1. Give individual children or small groups just one verse to work on to discover just how many contradictions the poem includes. They can then report back so that a final total can be established.
  2. As an alternative, count how many different things Shel wants to do in his crazy world. The grammatical focus here is the poem’s verbs.
  3. While a rhyme scheme is hard to imitate, the poem’s crazy contents are not. Ask for unrhymed poems either featuring a Fantastic Factory or some Crazy Clothes in which the items produced or worn are made of impossible materials eg:

A motor car of chocolate
A bobble hat knitted from daydreams

Have fun and let us know how you got on in your Crazy World!

More Ideas

It’s also worth looking at the Shel Silverstein web page where there a number of learning resources you can download. I particularly liked some of his simple animations.

And Finally…

Continuing the theme of ‘nonsense’ one of our most popular resources in The Goodeyedeers Shop is ‘Jabberwocky – Rewriting A Classic Poem’ where the children are given a strategy for turning this nonsensical poem into one that makes sense – well almost!

Mike and David – Goodeyedeers

A link to The Goodeyedeers Shop at TES Resources


A writer of short stories.

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