Last Wednesday was one of our new Co-op-Ed days (which I will blog!) but I did another poem with the each of the older/younger groups. I’m loving doing this, I think it is the first time I have felt properly useful in the group in the whole time we’ve been going and it has made a real difference to my state of mind too. Luckily the kids seem to like it so far; I really hope they continue to do so.
This week the older kids and I did Night Mail, by Auden. I have only very faint recollections of this, I must have had it read to me, but not at school I think. We started off by me reading it to them, which is a trick in itself; I try to prime them by giving them some ideas of things to be looking out for and noticing in the poem so on this occasion I suggested they thought about the picture in their head, the various scenes, the historical time period and any clues they got as to what type of train, where it was going, what sense of emotion there was in the poem.
Once we’d read it, they all had masses to say about it, not least on the different types of mail, when they thought it might have been set, the way the pace of the poem changes to suit the scene and the speed of the train. They really liked imagining the people and were very sensible and thoughtful about the differences between countryside and industrial parts being portrayed. We talked lots about some of the words in the poem and how they were used to create a mood and a feel.
Then we discussed how things have changed and why the postal trains might be less important now; they had lots to say about lorries and email and my children particularly knew that Royal Mail carry more parcels than letters now! 😆 We discussed the history of stage coaches (Amelie knew about this from a trip recently) and the importance of ‘the post’ and the significance of the network that built up. We also talked about how the speed of news had changed.
This led on nicely to a poem included in the comments to the link above, which is a poem called “Junk Mail” which mimics the poem and derides the waste of modern post. They loved that, it was a real find.
After that I explained about the film “Night Mail” and we watched a snippet of it.
I was slightly surprised they were as quiet and interested as they were; I think they’d have watched it all but we ran out of time, so skipped to the end where the poem is read.
My reading wasn’t bad, but I didn’t read it like this and they couldn’t believe the speed of it! One thing that made me smile was how engrossed and happy to indulge in a slow paced info type film they were (LOVE home ed kids!) and how much they all chipped in about how films like that used to be part of life.
I’ve set them some follow on activities:-
*Learn a favourite chunk of the poem to recite next week. Do at least 4 lines but as much as you wish.
Then one or more of:-
*Write 4 lines of poem that would fit the beat and subject matter.
*Do a piece of art that the poem inspired.
*Make a lapbook, poster or display of something to do with the poems subject matter.