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Blog Idea 74 – 6 Ways Of Looking (description)

This blog is designed to offer creative ideas that you can take back and try at home or in the classroom. It was born out of the time I spent educating my own boys over lockdown and aims to make the teaching and learning of English as engaging as possible!

6 Ways Of Looking

This blog idea comes straight out of Pie Corbett's book Jumpstart! Poetry, which is in turn inspired by Wallace Stevens's poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. The concept is that you choose a stimulus and then explore different ways of viewing and describing it. The result is some truly original ideas and descriptions. Here is the worked example.

English

  • Simile using 'like'

  • Commands

  • Questions

  • Personification and alliteration

Playful writing is an integral part of helping children write with originality and conference. This activity encourages children to look at something relatively familiar through different eyes – different perspectives.


Stimulus

To begin, you need a great stimulus. As a teacher, I have collected a bank of postcards over the years for this purpose. The joy of this is that you can delve in and choose a card that catches your eye (or at random as the boys decided for me on this occasion).


From the pile of postcards we chose:

  • a timer (stimulus for shared writing)

  • Stone Henge (Joshua)

  • A squirrel (Archie)

  • Hair (my random pick)

The joy of this activity is that it is fundamentally looking at strengthening description and intrigue through sentence level work, so any stimulus will work.


The Brainstorm

Before tackling the writing, it is essential that we engage children in a rich brainstorm. This helps activate dormant language, eradicate cliché and stimulate new possibility. For this activity, we are looking to explore 6 categories:

  1. Simile using 'like'

  2. An instruction

  3. A question

  4. A wish

  5. A lie

  6. Personification and alliteration

Here is the brainstorm:

The trick is to look really closely at the thing you are describing and almost forget what it actually is. At first, this can prove to be a significant challenge, but before long the ideas will begin to flow.

The boys then brainstormed these categories around their own images:

Shared Writing

With the brainstorming complete, we then set about constructing our poem 6 ways of looking at a timer. Here is the final product:

Having showed the children the techniques, loitering with each sentence and considering the word choice and impact on the reader, they were ready to have a go for themselves.


Independent Outcomes

6 ways of looking at hair

Hair, you are like a waterfall of freely flowing flame.

Don't tangle, fray or split!

What mayhem manifests whilst we peacefully sleep?

How you wish not to be knotted, strangled, tied.

You hide the thoughts that whir in our mind,

whilst hilarious hedgehogs hide under hats.

by Jamie Thomas


6 ways of looking at Stone Henge

Stone Henge is like a meeting of fat dominos.

Stones – stop, drop and roll!

Are you dominos in disguise?

How you wish to hide from people staring at you.

You were made by stone giants that carried you across the land.

Sturdy stones stand and deliver stories.

by Joshua


6 ways of looking at a squirrel

Squirrels are like Mr Gum's bushy beard.

Squirrels - catapult courageously.

How fluffy is your feather-duster tail?

How you wish not to fall when you jump in epic fashion.

Squirrels are the best cleaners ever!

Sneaky squirrels squabble, scratch and scheme.

By Archie






I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed reading this blog. If you have a great idea you would like to share, or would like inspiration for a short-burst writing idea that could become a new blog, please do not hesitate to get in touch. As my 4 year old constantly reminds me - sharing is caring.


My thanks to Pie Corbett, Julia Strong and the Talk for Writing team for inspiring many of the ideas explored in this blog.


This blog is copyright. All materials herein, texts and supporting resources are copyright to Jamie Thomas & Talk for Writing. They may be used to support children/staff/parents in home-learning ONLY and not for commercial gain or for training or sharing widely, in their original form or any variations. They must also not be shared online or on any social media platforms without prior permission.

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