Saturday, August 20, 2011

Larry's Helmet: Poem and Resources 6-11 yrs of Age

Larry’s Helmet

Larry had a helmet.
He brought it into school.
We all crowded round him,
Thought he looked so cool.
But when you put it on,
It was the strangest of things.
Weird ideas in your head.
New powers at your fingers.

You could make it fire out
Orange lasers at your friends.
Teleport them to the roof,
Till they accept your demands.
Invisibly walk around
Pushing little ‘uns out your way.
Make them think a monster
Had descended on their day.

But the thing I liked the most
Was the timely teacher test.
A smack around the head was when
The helmet worked the best.
Larry's Helmet is a poem by children's poet Tricky McDee. It is a poem that rhymes and that rhyme scheme can be explored. A good source of discussion is whether lines 6 and 8 rhyme. Older children can be introduced to the term half rhyme and could brainstorm half rhyme pairs on their table wipe-boards. 'ing' would be a good place to start with half rhyme creation.

Although Larry's Helmet contains rhyme, it does not mean it needs rhyme to make it a poem. This point must be stressed when teaching. This can be reinforced by asking the children to write their own poems. I will advocate a structured procedure below, but if you have children that understand and appreciate poetry writing, then don't tie them into this procedure. Just ask them to brainstorm around some areas before they set off writing.

The poem can be downloaded here.

6-8 Years of Age

Read the poem a couple of times. Have the children imagine they were putting the helmet on. What powers would it give them?

Write a poem by following the defined structure.
  1. Decide on a child's name and ask them to describe their helmet
  2. Write a line about what the helmet will do to their friends
  3. Write a line about what their helmet will do in class
  4. Write a line about a good/bad thing that the helmet will do (depends on the bias of the first two lines - third should be opposite)
  5. Write a line about when the helmet works the best
For the younger children or in an ESL setting I would brainstorm each of these on the whiteboard; writing the answers given by the children in note form. The lowest ability children will then be able to choose lines from each category; cutting and pasting their ideas together to form their poem.

9-11 years

I would still follow the above structure but ask the children to write rhyming paired lines for each of the lines above. I would also ask the children to consider each of the senses to add depth to the poem. (Consider sight and add a colour - if it fits, consider sound and a suitable adjective.)

Follow up

The writing process should be:
  • think
  • write
  • edit
  • re-draft
  • final draft
Above we covered think and write. The children should be given the opportunity to re-draft and finally do a presentation piece on a regular basis. (At least once every three weeks.) I like to use line guides behind plain white paper. Once they have written it out on paper, ensure they give their work a title and include a design or illustration or illustrated border.


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