This book was written by a couple of poets wordsmiths.
Poems are (generally) short things and the people who write them have to craft something powerful, despite the need to be fairly succinct. There’s an art to choosing and using just the right turn of phrase or metaphor to capture an idea or feeling. If you’re not sure what we mean, try following someone like Ian McMillan on Twitter. There’s something about limiting yourself to 140 characters that brings out the best in a wordsmith (this sort of thing, for example).
Peter Worley and Andrew Day (the authors of ‘Thoughtings’) are wordsmiths. Except their craft is to take some of the biggest themes our world has to offer (happiness, love, our place in the universe) and condense them into poems suitable for children. Now that’s an art.
In his foreword to ‘Thoughtings’, Michael Rosen (aha! another wordsmith) uses a great simile…
This collection of poems is very, very irritating. It’s irritating like having toast crumbs in your bed. It’s irritating like having toast crumbs in your brain.
So, ‘Thoughtings’ is a collection of poems (82 in total) to irritate your class. In the nicest possible toast-crumby way. In the way that the best questions and lessons end up with your pupils complaining of brain ache, these poems will stimulate young minds into thinking big things by way of puzzles, problems and paradoxes.
The authors of ‘Thoughtings’, Peter Worley and Andrew Day work for The Philosophy Foundation and their experience in running philosophy sessions in schools and getting small brains to think deep thoughts shows. The poems in the book were inspired by the ideas of primary school children…
We took their insights, brainwaves and verbal entanglements into puzzles and poems for the young — and when we took them back to the classroom, they went down a storm.
We think strongly that the best learning journeys begin with a pinch or two of curiosity and/or wonder.
(Incidentally, that’s why we keep banging on about Hywel Roberts’ Oops and rate it so highly (enough to tweak @TeacherToolkit’s 5 Minute Lesson Plan to make it Primary-friendly and Oops-based… The 5 Minute Primary Lesson Plan).
It takes skill to tap into that wonder and build on it. Worley and Day have it in spades. They supplement each poem with a series of questions to get pupils dissecting each ‘Thoughting’ to pull out the essence(s).
Image copyright © ‘Thoughtings’ by Peter Worley and Andrew Day
‘Thoughtings’ is split into 11 chapters covering themes as diverse as ‘Minds and Brains’, ‘Number Wonders’, ‘Puzzles and Paradoxes’ and ‘Love, Goodness and Happiness’. These aren’t deep poems in any sombre sense — they’re just as playful, silly and lively as in any other anthology for children (perhaps more so). It’s in their underlying theme, the accompanying questions and discussion that the depth lies.
‘Thoughtings’ is a cracking book. As with all the books we review, we only write about it because we want to tell you about it. Despite it being tried and tested at KS2, we could see it being used with younger children and certainly into KS3/4 too. It’s perfect for Circle Time, PSE, Literacy… You could even start a maths lesson with one of the number poems. Have you ever spent a maths lesson discussing a poem? Wouldn’t that be superb? Do it! (and don’t forget to let us know how you get on!)
If you use Ian Gilbert’s Thunks, P4C or just love provoking your class into deeper thinking, ‘Thoughtings’ is for the philosophising wordsmith in you.
Here’s our Twitter list of Wordsmiths if you fancy following it.
NB. If you like this sort of thing, keep an eye out for an upcoming LyricalP4C post — some ideas of using songs to similar effect.
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