Grammar through poetry

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By Christine Jenkins – education writer

Using poetry writing to explore different aspects of grammar, children can deepen their understanding and enrich their writing.

Boy writing

Understanding noun phrases

Read children the poem ‘The Door’ by Miroslav Holub (available online as text from the Scottish Poetry Library and in video form from BBC Bitesize ).

‘The Door’ and similar list poems provide an excellent stimulus for securing children’s understanding of nouns and exploring how to expand them into noun phrases. Begin by reading the poem aloud and identifying the examples of nouns in the poem itself. If necessary remind children that a noun is a thing, person, place or feeling.


Discuss the use of the determiner (a, the, my, those and so on) which go before a noun, to create a noun phrase. Give children copies of the Activity sheet , ‘Determiners’, and ask them to experiment with how changing the noun phrase can vary the meaning within the poem.

Now ask the children to take each of the nouns they have found and expand them into a longer noun phrase by adding adjectives before the noun – for example, the old battered hat. Can they also experiment with adding to the phrase after the noun? For example, the old battered hat made of velvet.

Encourage the children to write their own version of a fantasy list poem, with a similar opening line, followed by a list of expanded noun phrases. The opening line can be varied to link with other curriculum areas or even characters from stories, such as ‘Look inside the castle…’ This is an opportunity to allow the children’s imaginations to run riot and create magical worlds in their poetry.

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