Melinda Mae by Shel Silverstein
I am currently collaborating with the children’s poet, David Horner and between us we are creating resources for teachers to use with their young writers.
Every now and again I shall post ideas on my blog that you, or someone you know, might want to work with. These are ideas that David has tried and tested in many schools.
For over 30 years Shel Silverstein was Mr Children’s Poetry in the United States, where his books sold in their millions. What marks his work out is that as well as writing the poems, he illustrated them, thus giving the pages of his books a wonderfully complete feel.
Check out some of his books, including, A light In the Attic, Falling Up and his last one, Where The Sidewalk Ends
It’s also worth looking at the Shel Silverstein web page where there a number of learning resources you can download. I particularly liked some of his simple animations.
Have a look at this poem- ‘If The World Was Crazy’ – taken from Shel Silverstein’s book, Where The Sidewalk Ends. Then David has some ideas on how you might make use of this poem in your classroom.
If the world was crazy, you know what I’d eat?
A big slice of soup and a whole quart of meat,
A lemonade sandwich, and then I might try
Some roasted ice cream or a bicycle pie,
A nice notebook salad, an underwear roast,
An omelet of hats and some crisp cardboard toast,
A thick malted milk made from pencils and daisies,
And that’s what I’d eat if the world was crazy
If the world was crazy, you know what I’d wear?
A chocolate suit and a tie of eclair,
Some marshmallow earmuffs, some licorice shoes,
And I’d read a paper of peppermint news.
I’d call the boys “Suzy” and I’d call the girls “Harry”,
I’d talk through my ears, and I’d always carry
A paper umbrella for when it grew hazy
To keep in the rain, if the world was crazy.
If the world was crazy, you know what I’d do?
I’d walk on the ocean and swim in my shoe,
I’d fly through the ground and I’d skip through the air,
I’d run down the bathtub and bathe on the stair.
When I met somebody I’d say “G’bye, Joe”,
And when I was leaving – then I’d say “Hello”,
And the greatest of men would be silly and lazy
So I would be king … if the world was crazy
- This poem needs to be read aloud – and more than once – for children to pick up both its clever details and its direct rhythms.
- Get the children to prepare a class reading for performance. Groups of 2/3 can be given one couplet to work on.
- Cover the final word in each pair of lines. Be ready for the children to give you some inspired alternatives! Can they be even crazier than Shel?
- See if you can change some of the original content to invent new elements of the crazy world, e.g. you might alter lines 2-4 of verse 3 to:
I‘d fly on my duvet and sleep in my shoe
I’d run under water and float in the air
I’d climb up the bathtub and wash on the stair
- Give small groups just one verse to work on to discover just how many contradictions the poem includes. They can then report back so that a final total can be established.
- As an alternative, count how many different things Shel wants to do in his crazy world. The grammatical focus here is the poem’s verbs.
- While a rhyme scheme is hard to imitate, the poem’s crazy contents are not. Ask for unrhymed poems either featuring a Fantastic Factory or some Crazy Clothes in which the items produced or worn are made of impossible materials eg
A motor car of chocolate
A bobble hat knitted from daydreams
Have fun and let us know how you got on in your Crazy World!