Hamster Man: Poetry Performance

Purpose

Choral reading is a supportive strategy which can help children internalise the fluent reading of a text. Choral reading allows more fluent readers to support the less fluent, leading them to higher fluency levels. Using this strategy with ‘Hamster Man’ allows the teacher to draw attention to the rhyme used in the poem.

This lesson includes collaborative drawing as an option. Drawing and labelling a picture collaboratively encourages group talk.

Preparation

  • Copies of Moon Juice, at least one per pair.
  • Large sheets of paper and materials for drawing. (optional)
  • Practise reading ‘Hamster Man’ aloud to model fluency and good expression. We recommend annotating a teacher copy of the text to support the read-aloud.

Process

  • Does anyone have a pet hamster?

Tell us about your hamster.

Write the title ‘Hamster Man’ on the board.

Invite the children in pairs or small groups to describe what  ‘hamster Man might look like.  You might like the children to make a collaborative drawing of ‘Hamster Man’ and label it.

Distribute copies of Moon Juice and turn to pages 26 and 27.

Ask the children to compare their drawings with the picture of Hamster Man on page 26.

  • Are there any similarities?
  • Do you think the Hamster Man in the poem will be similar or different to your Hamster Man?

Now, read the poem aloud to the class, modelling good expression and fluency.

After reading, ask:

  • Did you notice anything about the way I read the poem? (Encourage the children to think about your expression, emphasize particular words, etc. Point out the enjambement – run on line, ‘he turns to mush when scratched beneath/ his chin’ This needs to be read smoothly, and at the same time, the rhyme needs to be heard. The best way to help children understand this is to reread it, directing them to listen to how you read it. You will need to point this out when the children are reading couplets. The children do not need to know the terminology. It is more important that they understand how this helps the poem make sense.)

In pairs, take turns to reread the poem and listen. Then consider these questions:

  • What do you notice about the way the poem has been written? 
  • Did anything puzzle you? 

Check understanding:

  • What does ‘107 in hamster years’ mean? (14 days in hamster age is the equivalent to 1 human year)  Can we work out how old 107 hamster years are human years?

Share responses before explaining that you will now focus on performing the poem.

Class Reading

With cumulative choral reading, the number of children reading increases as the poem progresses. ‘Hamster Man is a poem arranged in six rhyming couplets. Begin by organizing the class into six groups. 

Number the groups from one to six. Ensure that each group has a mix of fluent and less fluent readers.

Group one will read the first couplet. 

Group two joins in with the second until all the groups read the final couplet.

Read through the poem at least twice. 

Group Reading

Now, organise the class into groups of six and ask them to read the poem in the same way, but this time as a group. 

Number the children from 1-6 and give time for them to allocate couplets before practising. 

If you have children left over, add them to a group and give two children the same number. 

Allow time for two groups to perform to each other. Observe while the children do this and make notes for feedback later (e.g. highlight how particular readings conveyed the sense of the poem).

Final reflection

Reflect on how choral reading helped the performances by asking: 

  • How confident did you feel to perform this poem? 
  • Would you be happy to read this poem on your own now? 

Teacher’s Note: You could send home a copy of the poem for the children to perform to an adult. The copy could be signed by anyone who has heard the poem being read.