Learning language through literature


Welcome teachers, pupils, and parents to this page of literature-inspired enrichment activities brought to you by The Star's Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) programme!

In the coming months, Star-NiE will feature poems and stories taken from the English language textbooks of Years 4, 5 and 6.

Making a connection with literature through poetry and stories does more than just develop reading skills. It develops positive life-long reading habits and attitudes, and an interest in literature.

Making an early connection with literature develops and enriches your language in a holistic manner. It helps you process and express your thoughts and feelings in context – a necessary real-life skill, and since as children you love to imagine, literature based activities will nourish your imagination! We begin by connecting with poetry before we move on to stories.

So, stay on the page and enjoy learning how to communicate through activities that focus on six language arts skills: listening, talking, reading, writing, viewing, and visually representing.

Connecting with poetry

A famous poet once said, “Poetry must be FUN.” So, for the next few months let’s enrich our use of English through some fun and playful poetry.

Noisy Food

TEACHERS for sure, and perhaps some parents, have heard of onomatopoeia – a term used when focusing on the use of sound in poetry for literary effect. It’s a noisy world out there! Even food can be noisy! You may want to read my article titled “Sound language” published in The Star – Mind our English column 12 January, 2005, to appreciate sound-word association.

The poem: Noisy Food

When you’re munching crunchy apples or you’re slurping up your soup,

when you’re eating crackly crisps all on your own or in a group,

when you’re crunching up your cornflakes or you’re popping bubblegum, or you’re sucking at an orange with such squelches that your mum says,

‘Can’t you eat more quietly, that noise is rather rude!’

It’s then you say, ‘It’s not my fault.

I’m eating noisy food.’

By Marian Swinger

About this poem

Wow, this fun poem is full of sound words! Learn this new big word: ONOMATOPOEIA! Learn how to pronounce it correctly. It simply means sound words.

You know and use many sound words every day. Many people eat noisily. Especially when they’re enjoying their food. Then, there is also noisy food!

Whatever it is, we must show respect for ourselves and for the food we eat. Otherwise people will see us as sloppy and rude, with no ‘table manners.’

Activity A

1. Do a choral reading of the poem. Add rhythm to it: clap, snap your fingers, stamp your feet, or use any percussion instrument you have. Make the poem come alive! Record the reading and share with friends.

2. List all the onomatopoeic words in the poem. For example: slurp. Can you add some of your own sound words to the list?

Activity B

1. Here are some tongue twisters from the poem. How fast and accurately can you say them?

· munching crunchy apples

· slurping your soup

· eating crackly crisps

· crunching up your cornflakes

· popping bubblegum

2. Memorise a few. Then have fun using them on friends or family members when you find them eating noisily or playing pop with bubblegum! Teach them some of these expressions.

Activity C

How to Eat a Poem is a poem by Eve Merriam to help young readers like you enjoy a poem. You

can easily find this poem online. The whole poem is a metaphor where the poet imagines a poem is a fruit to be eaten and enjoyed! It begins with “Don’t be polite”. So, forget about ‘table manners’ when you “eat a poem!”

But, just like you need crockery, cutlery, and napkins when you eat your food, you need to use some “elements” (like your voice, sound, rhythm, etc.) to enjoy reading aloud and to connect with the poem. See if you can pick these elements from the box.

1. A poem is made up of lines and stanzas. This is called .

2. Some lines I read fast, some I read slow. This is called .

3. I must know when to raise, and when to lower my voice. This means I understand how to _ my voice.

4. I must know which words to _(say the loudest). This shows I understand the poem.

NiE Activity

1. This comic strip is full of sound language which can be called “comic onomatopoeia.”

Why the “Gasp!!!” from Garfield?

Look through copies of The Star for more “comic onomatopoeia.”

You can also find more sound words in the sport section or in advertisements.

Cut and paste all sound language in your NiE scrapbook. Below each sound write or paste picture of the object the sound represents.

When my sons were young, they created their own sound effects. For example: gettak-takk for a car running over a loose metal grid covering a drain near our house; wwhwheeeeenn... for a whistling kettle.

(If you want more, ask your teacher or your parents to read to you parts of my above article in The Star on Sound language).

2. Now, from your experience, think of some objects and the sounds they make. Remember, sound words don’t need to have dictionary meaning. So, you can be creative and have fun! Here is another example:

Object Sound

All crispy snacks krikkok

3. Now, choose one letter of the alphabet to create an ‘onomatopoeic tower!’ Check The Star for more sound words to help you out. Here is an example:

For enquiries about The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education programme, please email starnie@thestar.com.my.

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