Poems for you to perform

Teachers: looking for poems for your pupils to perform? Well now, to help with that I’ve put together a list of poems in my award-winning book Buzzing! Discover the poetry in garden minibeasts that are fun to perform out loud.

Download Buzzing! Teachers’ Notes here

(And you can watch me performing some of these poems here.)

Meanwhile, I’ve included other useful info. in the Teachers’ Notes, such as:

  • the different poetry forms I’ve used in the book
  • which poems are based on other well-known poems (e.g. Lewis Carroll’s ‘Jabberwocky‘ and William Blake’s ‘The Tyger‘)
  • links to online resources.

Buzzing! Teachers' Notes

Buzzing! is a great classroom resource for both poetry and minibeasts. I hope these notes help you to get the most out of the book.

‘A book for making learning fun.’ Journal for Biological Education

Oh, and there’s also this downloadable Buzzing! Teacher Resource, which you might find handy in the classroom too.

Let me know if your pupils perform any of my Buzzing! poems or write any minibeast poems themselves. I’d love to know how they get on!

Anneliese Emmans Dean

Schools with literary connections

I’ve kickstarted the Book Weeks of two Yorkshire schools recently that each have strong literary connections of their own – neither of which I had originally been aware of.

First up was a visit arranged by Book Events for Schools to Carlton Miniott Primary School. Have you ever heard of Carlton Miniott? No, neither had I. Turns out it’s a village of around 1,000 souls near Thirsk, in the old North Riding of Yorkshire.

However, when my husband happened to ask where I was going next, he immediately said ‘Carlton Miniott? That’s where J.L. Carr went to school.’ (Trust my husband to know that sort of thing!) And he went over to the bookshelves and got down a copy of A Month in the Country.

Book cover of J.L.Carr's A Month in the Country

I hadn’t read it before, I’d only seen the film version, of which I had fond memories. Made in 1987, the film starred Kenneth Branagh and Colin Firth. (Who doesn’t have fond memories of Colin Firth?!)

So as part of my preparation for my visit to Carlton Miniott Primary School, I read A Month in the Country. It’s in the Penguin Classics list, and rightly so. It’s beautifully written. Poignant and touching, it gently transports you to a very different time and place.

How inspiring for the pupils of Carlton Miniott Primary School to know that one of their forebears became a famous writer. If J.L. Carr can do it, why not them too?

Cover of J.L. Carr's A Month in the Country

Next up was Norton Community Primary School, which invited me to come and kickstart their combined ‘Book and Bug Week’.

It’s a big school, with some 600 children. My visit there was organised by Year 1 teacher Mrs Everitt. As she was leading me through the school to the place I was going to do my book signing session, she kept pointing out parts of the building that had been used when filming J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls. I assumed she meant a film that had been made decades ago, but no, it was a new BBC production filmed just a couple of years ago, starring David Thewlis, Miranda Richardson, Ken Stott!

So, to wind down from my visit to Norton Community Primary School, I watched An Inspector Calls. I’d seen it at the theatre many years ago, so the dénouement wasn’t a surprise, but I very much enjoyed the production, and spotting the locations used. (The primary-aged children may need to wait a few years before watching it, though!)

However, what I was doing at the school was age-appropriate – lots of Buzzing! minibeast activities, including two Buzzing! shows, Buzzing! poetry writing and performing workshops and Buzzing! book signings.

Here’s what Mrs Everitt told me afterwards:

‘The children have loved it – lots of staff have stopped me in the corridor to make positive comments about today – so mission accomplished, thank you.’

And here’s some feedback from a Year 5 teacher:

‘Excellent content which really enthused the children about the topic. There was good interaction with the children and they participated fully. In the classroom afterwards there was a lot of discussion about the content.’

Thank you to all the staff and pupils of both Carlton Miniott and Norton primary schools, for inviting me into their – literature-rich – schools. And to Clare Burkhill-Howarth of Book Events for Schools for organising my Carlton Miniott visit.

If you’d like me to kickstart your Book Week, get in touch with me or with Clare. (And you can find out more about my school visits here.)

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life


OK, so this looks like a spindly, bare, whippersnapper of a tree …

Naburn Primary School children with one of their new apple trees

Naburn Primary School children with one of their new apple trees

… but pupils at two York schools have been imagining what it will grow into, and how they will enjoy the fruit it will bear in the future. And they have been doing so through poetry.

The ‘Poetree’ project was dreamt up and delivered by Vikki Pendry of York Edible Schools (Y.E.S. – part of Edible York) and me. Two local schools were offered two apple trees each (courtesy of Y.E.S.), and an accompanying poetry workshop from me.

The first school to take up the offer was, appropriately, Applefields School, followed swiftly by Naburn Primary School.

Planting apple trees in February is a splendidly muddy business, but fortunately the children had been primed to bring wellies that day, so much stomping could be enjoyed by all.

Apple tree planting at Applefields School

Apple tree planting at Applefields School

Less muddy were our poetry workshops, in which the children learned and performed a poem I had written specially for them all about the wildlife the apple trees would support as they matured.

Then the children created their own class poem about what the trees and their fruit would mean to them.

It was great to see such purposeful and imaginative learning going on at these two schools. Claire Hopkinson, Form 3 teacher at Applefields, told us afterwards:

‘We loved having you to visit us and the pupils really did have a great deal of fun and enjoyment. They performed the poems in assembly so everyone in school has benefitted from your workshop.’

Planting mission accomplished at Applefields School

Planting mission accomplished at Applefields School

We hope the apple trees will leave a tasty legacy for these children for years to come.

This was one of a range of food-related poetry events that I have put on. If you fancy some poetree or other food-related poetry at your school, then just get in touch. (Though I have to tell you, the current funding for the apple trees has been used up now!)

Meanwhile, do check out the excellent work of York Edible Schools and Edible York. You’ll find loads of resources there to help you get growing, and teach others to grow too.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life



Terrific Technologies at St Anthony’s Primary School

It was Terrific Technologies week at St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School in Leeds last week, and I went along one afternoon to teach Year 4 how to take photos using my BigBuzz Photography Technique and my digital cameras. The children caught on fast. Very fast! Take a look at some of the terrific photos they took in their school grounds:

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It’s amazing what you can find on a cold, grey afternoon in February when you’re being observant, isn’t it?

What did the children think of the workshop? Well, more than one came up to me and said they now wanted to be a photographer when they grew up!

And what did form teacher Miss McGuire think about it all?

‘Thanks so much for the fabulous workshop. The children really loved it and I was so impressed by the quality of the photos they took!’

I was really impressed too! Congratulations to Year 4 for learning to use the terrific technology that is the digital camera so fast and so well. It’s a skill for life. Who knows where it will lead them?

If you’d like a BigBuzz photography workshop in your school, and you’re within an hour of York, then just get in touch.

And you can find out more about my photography workshops here and here .

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz

Tang Hall Big Local

This might look to you like a jumble of beanbag cubes for sitting on.

The new seat cubes at Tang Hall Community Centre

The new beanbag seats at Tang Hall Community Centre

Indeed, that’s what Tang Hall Community Centre Manager Stephen Collins bought them as. However, on their first outing (at the Tang Hall Big Local Festive Make & Take day on Saturday), the children in my storytelling sessions saw them rather differently.

These cubes became sledges to toboggan on, they became snowballs to build into tall snowmen, they became the building blocks of castles and of pyramids and … and … and … .

Oh the joy of creative, imaginative play! In this instance, creative, imaginative, language-rich play. Initially, the children were inspired to build things that featured in the rhyming stories I was performing for them. However, it soon became apparent that these children were more than capable of creating rhyming stories themselves, inspired by the things they were creating with the cubes.

Some of the children who created and performed story poems at the Tang Hall Big Local Festive Make & Take day.

Some of the children who created and performed story poems at the Tang Hall Big Local Festive Make & Take day..

After a momentous battle fought between the occupants of two rival (cube-built) castles, the children wrote an epic poem they called The Battle of Slew (a saga to rival the Icelandic sagas!) Which they then performed to an audience they rounded up themselves.

I was so impressed with these children’s creativity. With their ability to get on with each other. (This was a drop-in session that any children of any age could take part in.) With their imagination. With their vocabulary. With their enthusaism. With their performing skills. And what was great was that Tang Hall gave us the flexibility to go with the flow. Initially I had been scheduled to put on four separate 30-minute rhyming storytelling sessions, with 30-minute intervals inbetween. However, the kids wanted to carry on going without any breaks – and so we did!

The whole of the Tang Hall Big Local Festive Make & Take day was inspiring. There were a raft of seasonal craft (and my storytelling) activities put on in the Community Centre on a free, drop-in basis. *And* a delicious free lunch, which we all shared together in the hall. So uplifting! And topped off by the best inter-generational Christmas jumpers I have ever had the privilege of encountering:

The best family Christmas jumpers I have encountered!

The best family Christmas jumpers I have encountered!

Thank you to all those at Tang Hall Big Local who invited me to be part of their Seasonal Make & Take day, and who made me so welcome.

A particularly big thank you to Stephen Collins, whose inspired idea to buy some colourful bean bags to sit on transformed the day for us all!

Tang Hall Community Centre manager Stephen Collins

Tang Hall Community Centre manager Stephen Collins

There are fabulous photos from the day at Tang Hall Big Local’s Facebook page, so do go and have a look. The feedback from the day was so positive that I was invited to think about starting a regular session at the community centre there. Sounds tempting to me! Watch this space …

Meanwhile, if you’d like your community event pepping up with some rhyming storytelling, just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life