Personification Poems – about fences?


Following on from our previous blog – Poetry for the Totally Terrified – we’d like to share with you a great ‘practical’ idea to help you, to help the children, become more engaged within poetry. We have tried this idea with children from 7 to 17 and it works! It is also a great fun activity.

The first thing happens within the classroom. Tell the children that we (you as well) are going to write a Personification poem; ask them to read the first six letters of personification and they will soon realise that it spells ‘PERSON.’ Explain that we are going to make ‘seemingly’ inanimate objects come to life; like the toys do within the Toy Story movies.

Ask for a few suggestions of what we could use within our poem: The usual answers are pens, books, tables etc. Usually the items that they see before them. Tell them that today’s topic will be FENCES! The look of bewilderment and total confusion upon the faces of children is to be expected.

Next, take the children into the playground/yard and ask them to go and talk to the fences. You will get the usual: “But sir, fences don’t talk.” Or “This is a silly idea!” perhaps you may get “I’m calling parents because you’re loosing the plot!” Please be assured all these are natural responses.

Then explain that if they manage to hear the fences talk they will get house points, merits, extra playtime/recess etc. It is astonishing how relaxed the fences become and they begin to wax lyrically about their life and what it is like to stand there all day, watching and listening to the world going by.

In our school playground we have three very distinct fences one large, dark green, security fence that goes around the periphery of the school. Secondly a small multicoloured fence that surrounds our early years play area and finally an old wooden fence that that been there since the school first opened forty years ago.

I start with asking the children:

What do the fences hear?
What do they see?
When are they at their happiest? Loneliest?
Do they have any friends? Who are their friends?
Does your fence have a particular accent?
What are they scared of?

It’s amazing what starts to come out once the first child has spoken. ALL of the ideas below are genuine responses from different classes that we have taught over the years.

“My fence says that it hears all our secrets when we are talking to our friends!”
“She loves it when children tickle her tummy with sticks on they way to school.”
“She is scared of the fireworks on Bonfire night!”
“My fence says that the grass tickles her feet in the summer.”
“Mine says that she gets really lonely during the holidays when we’re not here.”
“My fence says that the morning rain is refreshing.”

Next it was decided that each fence had a very distinct personality and accent.
The large security fence spoke with a big, deep voice like a bouncer or a security guard and with arms outstretched says “Come on move back please, there’s nothing to see here.”

Where as the small multicoloured fence was a rather precocious show off. “Look at me and all my pretty colours I am by far the loveliest fence that anyone could ever meet!”

Finally, the old wooden fence was the wise old aunt or uncle that had seen it and heard it all. Always with a kind word and never once was disrespectful towards the other fences, realising that each one has its own place and purpose in life.

This is a great activity for a number of reasons:
A great speaking and listening activity; with the fear of getting it wrong is eradicated.
Gives the children the opportunity to show empathy.
It makes poetry real and accessible
It provides a great stimuli for writing.

Have a go – you and the children will love it and we’d really like to read some of the children’s poems when they have written them.

Cheers Lee & David
The Thought Weavers





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