Sounds interesting …

The day after the momentous Brexit result in our EU referendum, we had the pleasure of welcoming a very special migrant to our garden here on the outskirts of York. Take a listen to this:

Isn’t it beautiful? It’s the first time I’ve ever, in the 20 years we’ve lived here, heard this bird singing in our garden. And it provided very welcome balm for the soul.

In case you’re wondering, what you’ve just listened to is a male Blackcap.

As anyone who has been to one of my Flying High! shows will know, I am a big fan of birdsong. And I’m very keen, through my Flying High! shows (often performed with storyteller Catherine Heinemeyer) and my forthcoming Flying High! book, to tune other people in to the joys (and occasional annoyances!) of the birdsong around them.

However, birdsong isn’t the only fabulous sound you might hear in your garden. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear all sorts of other interesting sounds.

For example, ten days after I heard the Blackcap singing, I was just about to go to bed when I heard a familiar sound through the bathroom window. We hear it every year at about this time. Have a listen. Do you know what it is?

The first time I heard it, I had no idea what it was. The answer is: two hedgehogs getting to know each other. They snuffle around each other like this for ages and ages. We feel very lucky that year after year, hedgehogs come to our garden for this special event in their lives.

Courting hedgehogs in our garden, 4 July 2016

Courting hedgehogs in our garden in Heslington, 4 July 2016

And here’s another intriguing sound. I heard it in the garden over the course of a few days last week. It was coming from our wooden trellis. Any idea what it is? (N.B. You need to listen very carefully!)

For the answer to this one, I’ll point you in the direction of my award-winning Buzzing! book. All is revealed on pages 20 and 21!

Meanwhile, may your life be enriched by tuning in to the sounds of nature all around you.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what the effect of leaving the EU may be on our wildlife here in Britain, have a read of this interesting document, The EU and Our Environment, drawn up in advance of the referendum by the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and WWF.

Anneliese Emmans Dean theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

Bowled over by Bolton-on-Swale

It was my second visit to Bolton-on-Swale Primary School. I spent half a day there last year celebrating World Book Day, as a result of which Mrs Dobson, the Head Teacher, invited me back for a full day this year.

And what a day it turned out to be!

I kick-started the day with an interactive poetry show for the whole school in which I performed poems from both my award-winning Buzzing! book and my forthcoming Flying High! book too.

Then Mrs Jones’ Class 4 (Years 5 & 6) knocked my socks off with the fabulous minibeast poems they wrote in our Minibeast Magic workshop. Each and every one of the pupils imagined really well what it was like to be a particular minibeast, and they used lots of magic tricks I showed them to make their poems sparkle.

Mr Ramsbottom’s Class 3 (Years 3 & 4) and I went on a wildlife walk. After which the pupils tickled me pink with the rhyming couplet poem they came up with, all about the things we’d seen. My favourite couplet was:

‘Rooks retreating to their nest
Trying to avoid the Class 3 test’

Rooks' nest at Bolton-on-Swale Primary School

Rooks’ nest at Bolton-on-Swale Primary School

The rest of the school giggled at that too, when Class 3 performed their poem in the sharing assembly at the end of the day. In which Reception warmed everyone up with their Warm-Up Rhyme from our Rhyme Time Ramble, and KS1 performed the brand new minibeast poem that they’d created outdoors in our Millipedes Galore workshop.

What a great day’s poetry from fabulous children. And what lucky children they are, too, to have such lovely school grounds to enjoy – including their very own Reflection Garden. There we spotted bumblebees, hoverflies, spiders and even the cuckoo spit of froghopper nymphs.

The Reflection Garden at Bolton-on-Swale Primary School - complete with storyteller's chair

The Reflection Garden at Bolton-on-Swale Primary School – complete with storyteller’s chair

Thank you to all the teachers and teaching assistants who pitched in so enthusiastically with my workshops. Here’s some of their feedback:

‘This session (in which the children were writing minibeast poems) was brilliantly modelled with enthusiasm and fantastic creativity/subject knowledge. As a result the children were excited, inspired and consequently wrote poems of a very high standard.’
Mrs Jones, Year 5/6 teacher

‘A very inspiring morning! All children were engaged and took an active role when learning the rhymes.’
Victoria Moodie, Reception teacher

If you’d like a poetry visit to your school, then just get in contact!

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

New mini-beast magazine for mini-people

OK, so you’ve just missed National Insect Week this year, but fear not! You’ve still got loads of time to take a peek at Instar, a great new – free – online insect magazine for kids aged 7 upwards. (You can click on the image below to read it.)

I especially recommend your perusing pages 18 to 21, where not only will you be able to read a couple of my insect poems (from my award-winning minibeast poetry book Buzzing!) but you’ll also find my tips to help you write your own poems inspired by insects.

Instar magazine is brought to you by the Royal Entomological Society – who know a thing or two about insects! – and contains loads of fascinating articles.

Enjoy!

Oh, and feel free to send me any insect poems you write. I’d love to see what you think it feels like to be a particular insect …

Anneliese Emmans Deanwww.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life

World Book Day 2016

Rarely have I felt as underdressed as I did when I visited Osbaldwick Primary School on World Book Day last week. I was the only person in mufti. The whole school – including all the teachers – were dressed as characters from books!

At the school’s Osbaldwick Lane site, the teachers were dressed as characters from Alice in Wonderland:

Osbaldwick Alice cr 2

And at the school’s other, Leyes, site, the teachers were all dressed as dalmations from 101 Dalmations:

Osbaldwick dalmation 2

I had to concentrate very hard to be able to perform my Buzzing! show whilst looking out over a sea of Wallys and Little Red Riding Hoods and Harry Potters and Hermiones and … and … and … .

In the audience of my Leyes site show I spotted a Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web. Just the person – sorry, just the spider – I needed to come and perform my spider poem with me. Charlotte was fabulously attired, and with exactly the right number of limbs!

Thank you to everyone at both Osbaldwick Primary School sites for welcoming me so warmly into your school on World Book Day. I enjoyed putting on shows and workshops for you all in your fabulous costumes.

Alice and the King of Hearts who assisted me in my morning Buzzing! show

Alice (aka Mrs Mowat) and the King of Hearts who assisted me in my morning Buzzing! show

What did Osbaldwick think of my visit? Well, Year 6 teacher Mrs Mowat said I’d put on:

‘A fantastic workshop. The children were heavily involved and really enjoyed creating (and performing) their own poem.’

Afterwards she emailed to say:

‘The children (and the staff) throughly enjoyed themselves! I have had people coming up to me all afternoon saying how amazing they thought your show and workshops were. Thanks again for such a wonderful world book day.’

Well, thank you, Osbaldwick Primary, for inviting me to share World Book Day 2016 with you. I can only apologise for having been so boringly dressed … .

Thank you to Book Events for Schools for organising this visit for me. If you’d like me to come and put on some ‘amazing’ poetry shows and workshops at your school, then just get in contact with Book Events for Schools.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – www.thebigbuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life

Best in class?

Stop press: Send your votes by 8pm on Sunday 1st November to  justaboutbooksnsomerset@gmail.com (My book Buzzing! is in the Poetry category.)

Calling all primary teachers, teaching assistants and school librarians! What books do you find work best in class? I ask because the shortlist for the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award has just been announced, and the organisers would like you to vote for which of these books you think will work best in your classrooms.

Screen shot of Website of the North Somerset Teachers Book Award

The North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award is a new award. As you can see from the screenshot above, it aims to:

‘champion a selection of the best children’s literature on offer for use in the primary classroom.

As professionals who work with children every day, we are passionate about raising the profile of quality children’s literature which will engage and inspire children to develop a life-long love of reading.’

Hear hear! And given all that, I’m mighty proud that they have shortlisted my book Buzzing! – Discover the poetry in garden minibeasts in the Poetry category. The other two poetry contenders are My Rhino Plays the Xylophone by Graham Denton and What Are We Fighting For? by Brian Moses and Roger Stevens.

Cover of my book Buzzing!

As I mentioned when I was longlisted in August, the award review of Buzzing! highlights many of the features of the book that I had hoped would appeal to readers in general and teachers in particular. I wanted to create a book in which science met poetry, a book that would present a cross-curricular approach to minibeasts, a book that would enhance and support teachers in their practice. And a book that would make you giggle! (Learning through laughter, rhythm and rhyme being what I’m all about.)

Have I succeeded in this? Well, judge for yourselves! You can download a free sample from Buzzing! and a free Buzzing! teacher resource from my website. (Where you can also order copies of the book, if you are so minded.)

Meanwhile, here are some quotes from the award review of Buzzing!:

‘Never have minibeasts been more appealing than in this book!’

‘As you read [the poems], you find yourself getting into the rhythm of the lines and wanting to read aloud.’

‘Another strength of this book is the fact that it encourages the reader to find out more’

‘A great resource for livening up lessons on life processes and living things!’

‘Fun to use as a cross curricular resource or for performance poetry!’

You can find out more about how Buzzing! came into being in this perspicacious interview, carried out for the award by 12-year-old Tayler.

I think this award is a very valuable initiative – and not just because my book has been nominated! I believe it has great value for teachers, libarians and support staff in primary schools across the country. The award organisers have put a lot of time, expertise and passion into selecting books in five categories (Picture Books, Poetry, Quality Fiction, Read Aloud and Information) that they genuinely believe will support and enhance classroom practice. So do join in, peruse the books on the shortlist – and vote!

A note from the award organisers:

‘Voting is only open to teachers, school librarians, support staff etc. as we really want the winners to be chosen for what teachers think will work in class!’

Email your votes to justaboutbooksnsomerset@gmail.com

(Oh, and if you’d like a Buzzing! visit to your school at some point, just email me.)

Anneliese Emmans Deanwww.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life

 

Insect Festival 2015

The Museum Gardens in York was teeming with even more insects than usual last Sunday as it hosted the biennial Royal Entomological Society Insect Festival.

Insect Festival 2015 (Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

Insect Festival 2015 (Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

Unusual additions included the butterfly above and the fly below, aka the very talented (and just a tad barmy) author of SWAT!, Mike Barfield (with whom I went to the Hay Festival last year):

Mike Barfield, author of SWAT! (Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

Mike Barfield, author of SWAT! (Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

Mike and I were on hand at the Brambleby Books stall …

With Mike Barfield at the Brambleby Books stall

With Mike Barfield at the Brambleby Books stall

… to entertain visitors and sign copies of our respective minibeast-themed books. (Mine being, of course, Buzzing!) Here I am in action:

It was great to see young and old alike at the Festival lapping up the huge variety of exhibits and minibeast-themed activities on offer.

Introducing visitors to my Buzzing! book. (Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

Introducing visitors to my Buzzing! book. (Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

Hats off to the man who swore blind he did NOT like poetry, but allowed me 2 minutes of his time to change his mind. He left, a good 5 minutes later, laughing and with a signed copy of my Buzzing! poetry book in his hands.

Children perusing copies of my Buzzing! book at the Brambleby Books stall.  (Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

Children perusing copies of my Buzzing! book at the Brambleby Books stall.
(Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

This was the fourth time the Insect Festival has been held at the Museum Gardens in York – and the fourth time I’ve been there. (Find out what I got up to at the 2013 and 2009 Festivals.) According to the RES it was the most successful Festival yet, with more people attending than ever before. Let’s hope it will return to York again in two years’ time.

(Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

(Photo copyright: The Royal Entomological Society)

I took the opportunity, whilst I was there, to go along to the Buglife stall and sign up to become a Tansy Beetle Champion. If you live in and around York, would you like to become one too? You can find out more here.

Thank you to Nicola and Hugh Loxdale of Brambleby Books for all they did to make our stall run so well. And to all the other contributors and everyone at the RES and beyond who made the day such a success.

Nicola Loxdale, Director of my publishers Brambleby Books.

Nicola Loxdale, Director of my publishers Brambleby Books.

Anneliese Emmans Dean theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

Topic: Minibeasts!

All the pupils at Hague Bar Primary School in Derbyshire are studying minibeasts this term, and their classrooms, hall and corridors are teeming with fabulous minibeast artwork. How do I know? Because I was there on Friday, to add some minibeast poetry to the mix!

I started the day by performing my interactive, cross-curricular, minibeast poetry show Buzzing! for the whole school. (During which much giggling was had by all …) I then spent the rest of the day working with each of their four classes in turn – indoors and out. At the end of the day the children all came together in a sharing assembly and performed some of the fantastic minibeast poems they’d created.

How did the day go? Well, the Year 5/6 teacher Jacinta Robinson thanked me for:

‘your brilliant assembly and workshops.
The staff and children loved it!
We would all highly recommend you to other schools.’

And Year 3/4 teacher Leah Jackson said my minibeast poetry workshop with her class was:

‘fantastic. All the children were fully engaged and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Every child produced something to be proud of.’

I was proud of the minibeast poems the children created too. As were their parents, some of whom had come along for the sharing assembly.

I think the school has something else to be proud of as well: the views it commands over the Derbyshire countryside. How’s about this for a view out of a classroom window?

The stunning view from a Hague Bar classroom

The stunning view from a Hague Bar classroom

I could go on at length about how enthusiastic and welcoming the children were, how inventive their poems were, how helpful all the staff were, etc. etc. etc. – but I have an important job to get on with. At the end of my visit the children bought more copies of my Buzzing! book than I had with me – so I need to go and sign and dedicate a lot more copies now and get them in the post!

If you’re studying minibeasts in your primary school and would like me to come and put on some cross-curricular minibeast poetry activities for your pupils, then do email me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Cover of my book Buzzing!

Anneliese Emmans Deanwww.thebigbuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life