Christmas poetry

How to make the most of Christmas poetry

Now, we all know about my Christmas addiction  and my love of all things folk. So what about when those two worlds collide? You can only imagine the ‘giddy kipper-ness’ that accompanies one of my favourite Christmas Traditions – going to see Kate Rusby’s Christmas Tour. Not only are Kate and her boys there but at Christmas she invites the Brass Boys along too.

I know what you are thinking, what has this got to do with teaching and poems and stories? A lot actually. Around this time of year with all the distractions of Christmas: the nativity play; Mary having stage fright; the sheep needing a wee and the visit to church many people find themselves finishing off their English teaching with a Christmas poetry unit.

Well for your Christmas poetry unit how about using carols; or traditional folk songs? They are indeed performance poems and poems on a theme. Obviously you have the lyrics to the traditional carols in school but this website will take you to all Kate Rusby’s Christmas lyrics. For older children there are plenty of opportunities for ‘What’s the same/what’s different activities’.

Take the carol While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks as one example…

  • How many versions are there? (About 14)

  • Why do you think this is? (Passed on orally not often written, pagan songs adapted and accepted as church carols)

  • Could the children write a modern carol? Repeating verses give opportunities to look at patterns in poetry.

Using Christmas carols and traditional folk songs can be an easy way to maintain focus in your literacy teaching at this time of the year but best of all it means your classroom will be alive with the sounds of Christmas – and for me that is joyful!

Charlotte Reed – Primary English Consultant





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