Make your own free website on
Poetry Performance
Multicultural, Poetry and Literature for Young Adults

Home |

A poem with a refrain or chorus (and indicate the refrain)

Prelutsky, Jack. 1984. The new kid on the block. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books. p. 31.

Introduction: When I found this poem, I was delighted. Oranges for all would be great for a treat following learning this poem. The only handicap I see is the challenge of getting them all peeled for them. Maybe it would be easier for the teacher to have enough peeled already to give each student a slice. What a delightful way to get them interested in eating oranges.

The chorus/refrain is set off in between {..}.

{"No, I won't turn orange
if I eat this orange,}
so don't you give me that!
{No, I won't turn orange
if I eat this orange,}
you're talking through your hat!

{No, I won't turn orange
if I eat this orange,}
that's just a bunch of stuff!
{No, I won't turn orange
if I eat this orange,}
I'm going to call your bluff!

{No, I won't turn orange
if I eat this orange,}
so who are you trying to kid?
{No, I won't turn orange
if I eat this orange. . . .}
Well, what do you know,

Extension: This could lead to a study of growing plants from seed, finding out about oranges and how they grow, or the parts of a fruit. From here comparisons can be drawn as well as differences between fruit varieties. Recipes for oranges can be shared. A study of the vitamins found in an orange can also be discussed.

A poem that can be accompanied by movement (and indicate what movements)

Silverstein, Shel. 1996. Falling up. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. p. 160. ISBN: 0-06-024803-3.

Introduction: This poem could be used to relate to the body parts for science. I particularly chose it as it could be used to introduce also story telling time and help get everyone settled.

"Body Language"

Said my feet, "Hey, let's go dancin'." (do a ballet turn)
Said my tongue, "Let's have a snack." (pretend to put something in your mouth)
Said my brain, "Let's read a good book." (hold hands in front together like an open book)
Said my eyes, "Let's take a nap." (put hands together beside tilted head)
Said my legs, "Let's just go walkin'." (walk in place)
Said my back, "Let's take a ride." (act like you're steering a car)
Said my seat, "Well, I'll just sit right here,
'Til all of you decide." ( sit down in chair/on floor)

Extension: Students can learn to identify these parts of their body on a chart. They can also learn it as an opener to get ready to sit and listen for any group work. You could even play musical chairs with this one. This way you have the students participating in choral reading as well.

A poem that lends itself to performance by two groups (and indicate parts)

Florian, Douglas. 1999. Winter eyes. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books. p. 22. ISBN:0-688-16458-7.

Introduction: This poem brought back memories of Colorado and the blizzard of '82. It seems to bring itself to two groups naturally as one group goes through the list of disadvantages to winter while the other group brings out the positive things that make winter special.

" Winter Inside"

Group 1: Winter is cold.
Winter is ice.
Group 2: But winter inside
Is cozy and nice.

Group 1: Winter is snow.
Winter is sleet.
Group 2: But winter inside
Is fireplace feet.

Group 1: Winter is bitter.
Winter is biting.
Group 2: But winter inside
Is very inviting.

Extension: One can almost see this performed on the stage with it being divided into two scenes: outside and inside. With the students answering back to each other and the visual, the poem can become even clearer than Florian's illustration. Students can also do group picture displays showing both the good and the bad of winter.

A poem ideal for linearound or solo reading (and indicate parts)

Introduction: What a novel idea. I did modeling and choral before. I totally reserved parts for plays. How much better these poems sound as we get the line sense across and help eliminate the sing-song habit of poetry. I found the following poem which seems to lend itself best to four people or four groups. Each person is represented by a letter: a,b,c and d. The last line, I chose, to have three students read it in unison.

Florian, Douglas. 1994. Bing bang boing. New York,NY: Harcourt Brace & Company. p. 108. ISBN:0-15-233770-9.

"What the Garbage Truck Ate for Breakfast Today"

a -Two turkey bones
b-A cracked-up clock,
c-Four orange peels
d-A soiled sock.
a-Tuesday's news
b-Aluminum foil,
c-Seven quarts
d-Of motor oil.
a-Thirty prune pits
b-Dirty diapers,
c-A pair of broken
d-Windshield wipers.
a-An old kazoo
b-A moldy poster,
c-A 1967 toaster.
d-A tattered girdle
a-A turtleneck. . .
b,c, and d-And never had to pay the check.

Extension: This poem could be visualized with pictures or drawings of the items being placed in a trash can which would then be put out for garbage pick-up. This could even be used in science to determine what things from here need to be recycled. Math could use it as an adding problem to find out how much the check would have been.

A poem that can be sung (and indicate which song tune)

Shields, Carol Diggory. 2002. Brain juice: American history fresh squeezed. Brooklyn, NY: Handprint Books. p. 5. ISBN: 1-929766-62-9.

Introduction: Social studies seems to be a real stumbling block since you have to memorize so many facts to pass TAKS. I found this book while rummaging the shelves and thought it would be a fun way to teach some of those dry facts to all our students. While I had trouble finding a song that would fit, I finally settled on "O Tannenbaum! O Tannenbaum!" also called "O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree" for this one. It does take some practice to get it going but about five times through and it feels like a fit.

" The First"

The first Americans who roamed the prairie
Were kind of big and kind of scary.
Some lived alone, some in a bunch,
A few of them ate the others for lunch.
Some were gentle, some were mean,
Some were spotted or dotted or green.
They hissed and growled and roared great roars-
The first Americans were dinosaurs.

Extension: I know this song would fit in with the elementary school curriculum in science when they do the dinosaur dig. It fits for multidisciplinary instruction as well when the students learn that science, history and poetry can all fit together, as well as music. What a way to get them to begin to think of everything working together instead of each course being separate. It's easy then to move to picking their favorite dinosaur to draw, or have them share their information with the rest of the group/class.