Ode to my Tap
With World Water Day coming up in March, I thought I would use my blog to share a poetry workshop which always seems to inspire lovely poems: ‘Ode to My Tap’. The workshop, which I use with Years 4, 5 and 6, explores the importance of access to clean water, as well as encouraging imaginative imagery and metaphors.
Children are naturally passionate advocates for environmental and humanitarian issues and in my experience they really take to this theme, blending the overt message with playful language. It is also an accessible introduction to the concept of an ‘Ode’.
First, I share with the class some of the shocking statistics around access to clean water:
- 1 in 4 people on the planet don’t have a decent toilet of their own.
- 1 in 10 people don’t have access to water close to home.
- 31% of schools around the world don’t have clean water.
(There are lots of useful resources including lesson plans and videos on www.wateraid.org).
I explain that many children have to miss school and skip playing with friends to go and collect clean water, which is often miles away from their home. If children and adults must spend hours each day collecting water, it can prevent them from training for and pursuing the jobs they would like to do.
I tell them that this got me thinking about the importance of something I have always taken for granted – my taps! And so I decided to write an ode, which is a poem in praise of a particular thing. Poets have written odes to all sorts of things – autumn, wind, sadness, music, silence, “a large tuna in the market”… you can write an ode to anything you like!
Ode to My Tap
My tap is a silver swan.
My tap is a silken roar.
My tap knocks shyly
on its own white door –
drip, drop, drip…
My tap is cold sips.
My tap grows a twisting vine.
My tap is tea-time,
and squeaky-clean teeth
feel just fine.
My tap speaks tap,
which to the human ear
is a judder in the pipes.
My tap has a hot temper
and a cold shoulder.
My tap is ease.
My tap is a liquid key.
My tap is me being free
to be me.
We spend a couple of minutes looking at the different poetic techniques – metaphor, personification, onomatopoeia, alliteration, contrast, use of the five senses, use of rhyme (which I have kept deliberately fluid…pun half-intended…!). Then they are off writing their own poems!
If pupils are having trouble getting started, I ask them to draw a little picture of their tap, then we chat about what the shape reminds them of (e.g. the spout could be a rainbow, a candy cane, a giraffe…the tap handles could be a flower or a hand…). If they don’t want to draw, we might collaborate on some sound effects – a dripping tap, a tap turned on fully etc – and discuss what these sound like.
These Tap Odes lend themselves to illustration – the poem flowing out of the tap is particularly popular. You could also build on this workshop by asking pupils to write a poem in the voice of water, or to write an ode about something else surprising.
If you do write Odes to Your Taps, I’d love to see them! Please feel free to contact me through my website for some class feedback or tag me on Twitter @RachelPoet
Rachel Piercey is a freelance writer, editor and tutor. She co-edited and contributed to the children’s poetry anthologies Falling Out of the Sky: Poems about Myths and Monsters (shortlisted for the CLiPPA award 2016), Watcher of the Skies: Poems about Space and Aliens, and The Head that Wears a Crown: Poems about Kings and Queens, all published by the Emma Press. She regularly performs and runs poetry workshops in schools, and she has taught courses on writing poetry for children for The Poetry School. Her poems for adults have been published in The Rialto, Magma, Butcher’s Dog and The Poetry Review, as well as pamphlets with the Emma Press and HappenStance. rachelpierceypoet.com
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