From: 101 MORE Drama Games and Activities

Age: 8 to adult
Players: Whole Group
Time: 10 minutes
Skills: Vocal

Practice your pronunciation and expression with an extract from a well-known poem.

Learning and repeating this extract from The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Browning 1842) is a great way for participants to practice their pronunciation and expression. Teach the verse line by line to the whole group. Then ask them to practice saying it in different ways (see below).

We also have recommendations for performing poems online below.

  • Although this is a short extract, the lines can be said in so many different ways, and the range of sounds really lends the poem to vocal practice. In addition, after saying the lines in so many different ways, the students should not find it difficult to learn and remember the words.

They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cooks’ own ladles.

Try saying it in different ways:

  • Whispering
  • Exaggerate the consonants
  • Exaggerate the vowels
  • Neutral
  • In a low voice
  • Excitedly
  • Spookily
  • Cheerfully
  • Sadly
  • Lazily

Working Online

In Zoom or a similar online environment, share the poem in a PowerPoint or just by pasting it into the chat window. Ask everyone to mute their microphones and then to read the lines out loud to themselves. If you try it with the sound on, you will get what I call a Zoom cacophony! Discuss their comments and feelings about the poem. Then send them into breakout rooms and ask them to practice the poem with each of them reading a couple of lines. Bring them back into the main room and ask each group to give a performance. You can mix it up by giving a different style of performance to each group (choose from the examples above, e.g. spookily).

Want more?

Here’s the next part of the poem:

Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men’s Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women’s chats
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats.

The whole narrative poem can be found here:

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Teaching Drama Online