Scissor Magic – Primary Poetry Lesson Ideas
Scissors have been a tool of magic for centuries. They are surrounded in a thick fog of folklore! Never buy a pair yourself, only accept them as a gift, and if you want to protect your house then an open pair placed in the right spot can do just that! Scissors are also a wonderful aid to the developing (or even established) poet. David Bowie and Thom Yorke are both musicians who used the cut-up technique to write lyrics, but it is a device that has been used by lots of different artists. It is simple to setup and easy to access for groups or classes. The technique can be easily differentiated for any age and it can produce some mad results.
How Can It Be Done?
Usually, I take a poem and either cut it up before hand or if you have time and competent cutters, let the kids do the chopping. Chuck the words into a polypocket or similar item, and then start pulling out at random to create phrases. This could be done individually or as a pair/group of three. I always allow the children to make adjustments because editing is a good skill in any form! If you use a nonsense poem then you can get off the wall phrases (The Ning Nang Nong is particularly good for this) or take it further and use a different type of text. Try a newspaper article or a page of facts. This type of activity is a great preparation phase for using blackout techniques (more on that in the next post) and it empowers children who struggle with writing or visualising ideas to create something. The final products can be turned into contemporary art pieces with the addition of glue, cardboard/canvas, and paint.
And for anyone looking to take this one step further, you can even apply the building technique with Lego! I normally prepare (it takes awhile) some key words and then let lower ability writers just build their poems physically. It proved very engaging and allowed for lots of variations. It is so important for reluctant writers to feel success and cut-up/Lego building helps facilitate this.
This is the second post in a series from Plymouth Poet Laurete, Thom Boulton. Don’t forget to check out his free lesson plans for KS1-3!
As always, please share the results!
Thom (not Thom Yorke)
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Poet Laureate for the City of Plymouth