Learning language through literature

Language arts – here we come!

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!

This month, Star-NiE will feature poems and stories taken from the English Language textbooks of Years Four and Five.

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!

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.

Watching a Bumble Bee

THE power of poetry continues! I wonder how many of you – teachers and parents – have heard of the famous philosopher, poet and artist, Kahlil Gibran. This beautiful line comes from his collection of prose poems titled The Prophet – “To the bee, a flower is the fountain of life, and to the flower, the bee is a messenger of love.”

Depending on how you look at it, it can be deep and it can also be a simple lesson on love, and on the importance of giving and receiving. Look at today’s poem – the flower is happy to give nectar to the bee, and the bee is happy to take it and hums a happy song!

Help your children take away something of value from this poem on nature. Also, encourage your children to read other poems by Wes Magee. He is a well-known children’s poet.

The poem: Watching a Bumble Bee

Out in the garden

you will see

the oh-so-busy

bumble bee.

It never stops to

take a rest

It wears an oh-so-hairy


When flowers, in summer,

open wide

the bee dives oh-so-deep


It gathers nectar

all day long,

and hums an oh-so-buzzy song.

When you watch from your

garden seat

the bee makes honey


Then off it zigzags

in a tizz

with an oh-so-busy



By Wes Magee

About this poem

Boys and girls, you know and have seen a bee. This poem on nature tells you about the relationship between bees and flowers. You must have studied in science class why flowers attract bees and butterflies.

You know that there are so many types of bees, right? Like other bees, the bumble bee is always busy, and the poem tells you how it loves to buzz and hum (onomatopoeic words, remember?). Do you also know that bees have two stomachs? How about “making a beeline” (find the meaning of this idiom) to search for more fun facts about bees?

Also, if you enjoy the rhymes and the strong rhythm in this poem, go and read other poems by this author who was once a teacher. He enjoys writing for students and about students. Read Windows. It is about a highly imaginative student... like you! Now, it’s time to get “as busy as a bee” with these activities!

Activity A

1. Read the poem and note the lines that rhyme. Now, read aloud in two’s – each person reads two lines. Keep the steady beat!

2. i. You know the meaning of nectar because it tastes like ______ar.

ii. You also know vest refers to the bee’s _____dy that is oh-so-hairy.

iii. A bee’s bite is called a _______ng.

3. You find oh-so + adjective pattern repeated in the poem. Now, add your own adjectives to create an oh-so pattern that describes a bee. How many can you make?

Activity B

A song: Do you know the Billy Boy tune? Let’s create and sing our song in parts using the question and answer (Q&A) format. You ask the question, Busy Bee answers. First, complete the song:

You: Oh, where have you been

Busy Bee, Busy Bee?

Oh, where have you been

Little buzzy bee?

Busy Bee: I’ve been...

Activity C

From poem to story: You have read the poem. Imagine yourself sitting on the garden seat and watching the bumble bee. As you watch, write down some key points for a little “Bee story” based on the poem.

1. Use the 5Ws & 1H guide below to help you:

● WHO is the character of your story?

● WHAT does the character want?

● WHY does the character want this?

● WHERE can the character get this?

● WHEN does the character get this?

● HOW does the character get this?

Add: How do you think your character feels when it gets what it wants?

2. Now, you have enough material to begin writing your story!

3. Show your story to your teacher, parents and friends. Ask for feedback.

4. Record yourself telling the story. Share your audio or video recording with others.

NIE Activities

Activity 1

Study this interesting photo of busy bees at work. Read the caption. Honey is not the only bee product we can find. Propolis is another product. It is like bee glue.

Bees work on laying propolis in a hive.Bees work on laying propolis in a hive.

1. If propolis is like bee glue, what do you think the bees use it for? (Hint: why or when do you use glue?)

2. Do you like honey? Has your mum, dad or teacher told you about the benefits of honey? Write what you know about the goodness of honey. Begin each line with:

Honey is good for......

Activity 2

Look... the bees from the poem have swarmed into The Star (refer to the two comics)!

1. Study the faces and the body gestures of the bees. How would you describe them?

2. Are you thinking what they are thinking?

i. Get creative: Draw thought bubbles for the bees to show what they’re thinking and planning. Why?

ii. What do you think Garfield, the naughty cat, is about to do? Draw another thought bubble.

3. Pictures to words: Do you see that you have a little story hidden in this single comic frame? Here is your chance to get imaginative and creative. Write a little interesting comic-based photo-story or a poem based on this one frame. Feel free to add dialogue.

4. Beedle-Beedle... rings the phone to a bee-tune! Who do you think is calling her? Can you imagine why?

Activity 3

You are familiar with Spelling Bee. See if you can spell out these few words. All have something in common:

- w _ _ _

- _ _ _ _ _z e

- t _ _ _ t

- g _ _ _ t

- n _ _ _

Now, continue to add to the list. How long of a buzz...ing beeline can you make? Have fun playing the spelling game with your friends.

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

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