Main Lesson Themes:   Norse Mythology     Human and Animal     Geography

Norse Mythology - Alliteration

[Ancient Norse verse didn't rhyme with the end-rhyme we are familiar with.   Rather it used the sound at the beginning of the word, or alliteration.   This was predominantly consonantal, e.g. 'girt with gold' (where the 'g's alliterate) or 'beautiful, brave and bold' (the 'b's rhyme).   This gives the verse a strong will character.   Any vowels at the beginning of a word were said to alliterate,  i.e. they did not have to be the same vowel.  So, for example, 'insolent, agile and evil' alliterate because they all begin with a vowel sound.   In German, alliteration is called Stabreim or 'staff-rhyme', and a nice exercises is to have the children hold wooden staves and stamp them on the ground with each alliteration.   Apart from adding some impressive  percussion to the speech, the children need to be very awake to stamp the staff in the right place as the alliteration in, for example, the Edda, constantly moves  from line to line.   In the first line of the Edda below, the staves would stamp on earliest and  Ymir (because vowels alliterate).   In line two the staves stamp on  sea and salty.   In line three on earth and upper (vowels).  In line four there is a double alliteration, so the staffs stamp on gaping and green and also on nothing and nowhere - a real challenge to wakefulness!   In line five the stamps are on land, lifted and -loft.   In the sixth line, made, Midgard and matchless.   And so on.]

From the Edda

                       3 - 6
In earliest times     did Ymir live:
was nor sea nor land     nor salty waves,
neither earth was there     nor upper heaven,
but a gaping nothing,     and green things nowhere.
Was the land then lifted     aloft by Bur’s sons
who made Midgard,     the matchless earth;
shone from the south     the sun on dry land,
on the ground then grew     the greensward soft.
From the south the sun,     by the side of the moon,
heaved his right hand     over heaven’s rim;
the sun knew not     what seat he had,
the stars knew not      what stead they held,
the moon knew not     what might she had.
Then gathered together     the gods for counsel,
the holy hosts,     and held converse;
to night and new moon     their names they gave,
the morning named,     and midday also,
forenoon and evening,     to order the year.

 17 - 18  [Creation of Man and Woman]

 To the coast then came,    kind and mighty,
from the gathered gods   three great Aesir;
on the land they found,   of little strength,
Ask and Embla,   unfated yet.
Sense they possessed not,   soul they had not,
being nor bearing,   nor blooming hue;
soul gave Odin,   sense gave Honir,
being Lodur,   and blooming hue.
             19 - 20 [The Norns]

An ash there was,   called Yggdrassil,
the mighty tree   moist with white dews;
thence come the floods   that fall adown;
evergreen o’ertops   Urd’s well this tree.
Then wise maidens   three betake them
under spreading boughs   their bower stands -
Urd one is hight,   the other Verdandi,
Skuld the third:     they scores did cut,
they laws did make,   they lives did choose:
for the children of men    they marked their fates.

From:  First Lay of Helgi the Hunding-Slayer
‘Twas in olden times,   as eagles screamed
and holy steams flowed from the Heaven’s Fells,
when in Braland Borghild   bore to the world
a hero high-hearted,   Helgi by name.
At night in hall   the norns did come,
to the lord they allotted   his life and fate:
to him awarded   under welkin most fame,
under heaven to be   among heroes first.
His fate-thread spun they   to o’erspread the world,
for Borghild’s bairn   in Braland castle;
they gathered together   the golden threads
and in moon-halls middle   they made them fast.

Human and Animal


        Eagle, Lion and Bull

The far-sighted eagle glides high in the air;
The roar of the lion tells all to beware;
The might of the oxen, patient and strong,
Pulls for the farmer the bright plough along.
With the wings of the eagle my clear thoughts can fly,
With the heart of a lion my fears I’ll defy;
With the strength of the plough-ox my deeds I’ll fulfill -
And love, too, I’ll bring to thought, heart, and will.

Paul King

        Praying Mantis

Mantis sits on the branch of a tree,
Still as an old dead twig is he.
His legs held together as though in prayer,
His pin-prick eyes are fixed in a stare. 
Fly buzzes past, suspicious and quick.
Mantis is still as a dry withered stick,
But inside he’s alert, with a clear focused thought...
And SNAP! go his legs  -  and the fly is caught. 

Paul King

[This will of course have to be adapted to your local situation.]

            Where am I?
In the hand of God is the Universe,
In the Universe is our galaxy,
In our galaxy is the Solar System,
In the Solar System is the Earth,
On Earth is the continent of Africa,
In Africa is the country of South Africa,
In South Africa is the province of the Western Cape,
In the Western Cape is the city of Cape Town,
In Cape Town is the suburb of Kenilworth,
In the suburb of Kenilworth is Marlowe Road,
In Marlowe Road is Michael Oak School,
In Michael Oak is Class Four,
In Class Four are rows of desks,
In one of those rows is my desk,
Here I sit.
Here I sit
    at my desk
       in one of the rows
          in Class 4
             in Michael Oak
                in Kenilworth
                   in Cape Town,
                      in the Western Cape
                         in South Africa
                            in Africa
                               on Earth
                                  in the Solar System
                                     in the galaxy
                                        in the universe
                                           in the hand of God.

Themes:   Greek Mythology       Birds, Flowers, and Insects       Verses

Greek Mythology

Praise-Song to Poseidon

Hail great God of the Oceans,
Of the earth-encompassing seas!
Whose moods and motions and mysteries
We pour the wine to appease.
How great your fury in tempests,
How loud your howl in the gale,
How reckless in power you pound on the shore
The rock-jagged cliffs to assail.
Yet when your heart is at peace,
And all is calm and serene,
How gently you linger and lap on the sands
And sparkle in azure and green.
O mighty in mountainous billows,
Or dimpled and limpid at ease -
Hail great God of the Oceans,
Of the earth-encompassing seas!

Paul King

Ode to Apollo

Great and good Apollo,
All-revealing Light!
How manifold your qualities
In nature fair and bright.
You glisten, gleam and glow,
Sparkle, shine and shimmer,
Glitter, dazzle, die down dim,
Flicker, flare and flimmer.
You’re dazzling in the summer glare,
Dappled in the shade,
Bright in shafts between the trees,
Around the woodland glade.
You’re brightest in the radiant sun,
Mysterious in the moon,
And jewelled in the myriad stars
Across the heavens strewn.

Paul King

Prayer to Athena

Hail great goddess Athena!
Girt in armour bright :
Arm, guide and protect me
In darkness and in light.
Grant me your helmet of wisdom,
Your shield of courage true,
Your spear of truth in counsel,
For all that I shall do.
Hail great goddess Athena,
Girt in armour bright :
Arm, guide and protect me
In darkness and in light.

Paul King


Deep into the labyrinth
Of dark and winding ways,
I stepped in silence, sword in hand,
Through a night that knows not days.
And there the ravening beast I slew,
The hideous Minotaur,
Half man, half bull, and cruelty all,
Who will trouble men no more.
And then the guiding clew I wound,
To lead me back to light.
Ariadne true was waiting there,
And the stars shining bright.

Paul King

Birds, Flowers and Insects

The Greek Statue

Upon a mass of marble
The sculptor hammers hard :
The chink and chip of the chisel
Leaves it channelled, grooved and scarred.
Then finer, ever finer,
With cut and scrape and shine,
The statue tall is rubbed and smoothed
To a hero’s form sublime.

Paul King


In and out the weaverbird
Weaves his wisps of grass,
Busy and bustling, bent on the task
As the hours quickly pass.
Weaving, winding, twining the strands,
Tirelessly working with care,
Till fine and formed, neat and new
Is a nest beyond compare.

Paul King

Sun Bird

With a glint and glitter of colour
The sunbird quivers bright,
Then darts away to another bloom
Like a flickering arrow of light.
With a delicate sipping of nectar
And a tumbling shower of song
He’ll hover a moment haloed in dreams,
Then - suddenly - he’s gone.

Paul King

Butterfly and Flower 

See the flower open
Its petals one by one -
Butterfly wings upon a stem
Waving in the sun.
See the flitting butterfly
In shimmering colours bright -
A flower free and flying
In the warm summer’s light.

Paul King


Gum Tree

High in the breeze the blue-gum sways,
Whispering, dancing, dappling and bright;
With roots sunk firm in the mountain-side,
Strong, straight trunk carried with pride,
And branches raised to the light.

Paul King

See the stone
Sculpted by storm,
Weathered by wind
To a rugged form.
See the shell
Whose elegant spin
Spirals and twists
To the heart within.
Weather and wind
Or life unfurled:
Inner and outer
Shape the world.

Paul King

The great and glorious golden sun
Shines from on high on everyone,
On saint and sinner, shepherd and king,
On the great and the stumbling, unstinting.

Paul King

See the bee
How selflessly
She toils to bring the honey home.
The silent hive
She’ll keep alive
When blooms are blown and winter’s come.

Paul King

By day the light of the radiant Sun,
By night the light of mysterious Moon,
And the wandering Stars ever above,
Guide and guard us night and noon.
Light of the sun shine in my thoughts
Beauty of moon weave in my heart,
Wisdom of stars flow through my deeds.
Morning, evening, night and noon.

  Paul King

The pillars of the temple
Stand between earth and sky :
Upon a footing that’s sturdy and  firm
They lift the roof on high.

Paul King

Class 4 and 5


The flames of the bonfire flicker and flare,
Furling and curling they leap in the air,
Dizzy and dancing they flitter and flee,
Consuming and fuming and quick as can be.

The flame of the candle burns steady and slow,
In a halo of peace it will give you its glow.
It shines with a light unruffled and true -
A still flame a-gleam round a centre of blue.

Paul King

Twixt earth and sky the mountain sits
Magnificent, mighty, massive and true,
With roots sunk deep in the secrets of earth
And summit ascending to heaven's bright blue.

Close to heaven in light-filled skies,
Close to earth and deeper than sea,
The mighty mountain speaks its worth
Silent and certain: This is me!

Paul King


I will be great, the acorn said,
But everyone laughed,
You're quite off your head!

I will be great, the little shoot knew,
But everyone jeered,
What, a pipsqueak like you!

I will be great, said the sapling green,
But everyone scoffed,
You can barely be seen!

I will be great, said the fine young tree,
And everyone mumbled,
We'll see, we'll see.

Now I am great, said the oak stout and tall,
And the trees all agreed,
You're the king of us all!

Paul King

Away sleep, away!
Hail lovely day!
We'll out into the world, me boys,
And brook no delay.
We'll work with a will,
Steadfast in skill:
In the wide, waking, wondrous world
We've deeds to fulfil!

Paul King

The splash and swirl of the water,
The rush and the roll of the breeze,
The crackle and hiss of the flickering fire,
The sigh and the soughing of trees:

The day is full of the language
Of the elements’ song that I love;
But at night I can hear the deep song of my heart,
And the music of bright stars above.

Paul King

Through moonlit woods I wandered once
And came upon a silent lake,
Smooth round rocks beside its shore,
And there I sat to watch and wake.

Upon the water glittering bright
A thousand stars shone long and late.
Who made the stars in the firmament?. . .
He must indeed be great.

Paul King

The Crown

Earth brought forth the rugged gold,
Fire and bellows made it fine;
And from the watery depths of sea
A moon-round pearl did softly shine.

And with that gold and moon-glow pearl,
The craft and care of skillful hands
Forged and fashioned a wondrous crown
To give the queen would rule those lands.

The golden circlet on her head,
The queen ruled well and steadfastly,
And never forgot her subjects true
Nor earth, and fire, and wind, and sea.

Paul King

In autumn the leaves wither and fall,
And summer is dead and done.
But on every twig a tiny bud
Gives promise of life to come.

Paul King


[In the days of the great sailing ships that voyaged to the East, one of the hazards of sea life was scurvy.   It was to address this problem that the Dutch East India Company set up a victualling station on the tip of Africa where fresh fruit and vegetables could be grown and give the sailors - as we would say it now - the vitamins they needed.   This victualling station became the city of Cape Town, and the bay on which it is built, named after the flat-topped Table Mountain behind it, is  Table Bay.]

The Fleet in Table Bay, 1700's

The mountain’s clear and stately
Above the town today,
And a fleet of Dutch East Indiamen
Is anchored in the bay.
In search of trade they sail the world,
To Eastern shores they go,
And a deal of bales and barrels
Is stacked and stowed below.
There are spices rare from Java,
And carvings from Japan,
Tea and silks from China
To sell in Amsterdam.

There are cups of finest porcelain,
Plate of blue and white,
Cinnamon and saffron
And nutmeg to delight.

Yes the cargo’s tight and tied, me boys,
Safely in the hold,
And in the captain’s cabin
Are chests of Eastern gold.
To Table Bay they come, me boys,
Sick with scurvy’s blight,
But good Cape fruit and good Cape wine,
Soon sets them all to right.

A week or two they’ll linger,
Then,“Homeward bound!” cry they,
And lift the anchors, set the sails,
And sail nor-west away.

Paul King 

Grim and Gloomy

Oh, grim and gloomy,
So grim and gloomy
Are the caves beneath the sea.
Oh, rare but roomy
And bare and boomy,
Those salt sea caverns be.

Oh, slim and slimy
Or grey and grimy
Are the animals of the sea.
Salt and oozy
And safe and snoozy
The caves where those animals be.

Hark to the shuffling,
Huge and snuffling,
Ravenous, cavernous, great sea-beasts!
But fair and fabulous,
Gay and fabulous are their feasts.

Ah, but the queen of the sea,
The querulous, perilous sea!
How the curls of her tresses
The pearls on her dresses,
Sway and swirl in the waves,
How cosy and dozy,
How sweet ring-a-rosy
Her bower in the deep-sea caves!

Oh, rare but roomy
And bare and boomy
Those caverns under the sea,
And grave and grandiose,
Safe and sandiose
The dens of her denizens be.

James Reeves

[This is one of my favourites.   Anyone who has ever had to wash out a porridge pot will be able to identify with this!    J.A.Lindon has created some wonderful onomatapoeic words to describe the recalcitrant gunge, all of them a delight to say.]

Sink Song

Scouring out the porridge pot
Round and round and round!

Out with all the scraith and scoopery,
Life the eely ooly droopery,
Chase the glubbery slubbery gloopery
Round and round and round!

Out with all the doleful dithery,
Ladle out the slimy slithery,
Hunt and catch the hithery thithery,
Round and round and round!

Out with all the obbly gubbly,
On the stove it burns so bubbly,
Use the spoon and use it doubly,
Round and round and round.

J.A. Lindon

A couple of very twisty Tongue-Twisters

[Be warned, this one is a real challenge!]

Sheila Shorter

Sheila Shorter sought a suitor;
Sheila sought a suitor short.
Sheila's suitor's sure to suit her;
Short's the suitor Sheila sought!


A Fly and A Flea

A fly and a flea flew up in a flue.
Said the fly to the flea, "What shall we do?"
"Let's fly," said the flea.
"Let's flee," said the fly.
So they fluttered and flew up a flaw in the flue.