THE author of an iconic children’s book left an everlasting impact when he visited a Harlow primary school.
Michael Rosen, who wrote children’s favourite We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, spent the day wowing pupils – and staff – at Cooks Spinney Primary Academy.
The performance poet took to the stage to tell animated, elaborated stories of his life, demonstrating to children how real life can turn into fantasy when writing.
He said: “I like to show children there are all sorts of styles of writing. There’s writing about things that have really happened, fantasy writing like Harry Potter, as well as a style of writing where you start writing about real life that goes into fantasy. This is an initiation into that style of writing; into that exaggeration or tall story.
“They can start with the resources they have got and just expand on that and go OTT. Write about the family and tell a yarn, turn your writing into a big fib! We all know a strict teacher, so expand on that and tell the tall story about not being allowed to breathe, like in No Breathing in Class.
“I hope children take from my performance ideas for writing. It is not as difficult as you think; if you’ve got a speaking voice, just use that. It’s writing with the voice.
“I always hope the things I do provide a resource, whether that’s performance or content.”
Year 4 teacher Tracy Pope has relied on the work of Michael Rosen to inspire children during her 15-year teaching career. She said: “We always teach our children performance poetry and Michael Rosen is the man for that; it’s always his YouTube clips we refer to. If you are not referring to Michael Rosen, I have no idea who you would use; there’s nobody better.
“We have just had a week of poetry and performance poetry and before that we were working on creating play scripts, so it all ties in with performance and acting.
“Pupils have been so excited to see Michael in real life, having studied him and knowing his books so well.
“I am sure after this experience, everyone will be talking about what they got from Michael’s performance and how they can use what they saw in their own poems.”
Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 were the first to encounter Michael’s lively performance. Within moments of seeing him, children were using what they had learnt.
While the second performance was being put on for the older children, Francesca Harris, director of EYFS, said of the younger pupils: “They have already made their own stories based around We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Hearing Michael Rosen has inspired them instantly. As I have walked down the corridor, I could hear everyone listening to more of his work online.
“The children were in awe for 45 minutes watching him in the hall. Even a trainee teacher whose confidence needed building was getting into it all and doing Michael’s actions when reading.
“The impact is massive.”
The author is looking to return to Harlow to host a training day with staff at Cooks Spinney and other schools within the BMAT group to give tips on inspiring a love of reading and confidence to perform.
Stuart Pope, executive headteacher, said: “Across the Trust, we are looking to promote oracy and getting that confidence through speaking. We want our young people and adults to have the confidence and skills to articulate and to see what happens when you take the traditional set-ups away.”
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