Use George Szirtes's Red All Over Riddle Book
, and The New Exeter Book of Riddles
edited by Kevin Crossley-Holland and Lawrence Sail, to provide the children with models to work from. Notice how the riddle as a form is often spoken from the first person perspective, drawing the reader in as it conceals its identity. Look at how riddles conceal the speaker's identity through the use of metaphor and, sometimes, simile. Give the children plenty of chances to make riddles with you orally first, using speech as a first draft, as it were. From there, get them composing in pairs, and from there to working individually.
A kenning is two words fused together with a hyphen to make a new noun: e.g. swan-road = river; spear-din (Anglo Saxon) = battle; skull–splitter = sword/axe, and so on. The two words can be noun/noun; noun/verb; verb/noun; adjective, colour/noun/verb, and can be used to make a list describing an object, emotion, quality or animal, in any combination.
Look at the poem 'You!' from the Igbo dialect in The Oxford Book of Animal Poems
. This uses a simple pattern of repeating similes to describe an animal without naming it directly: 'You!/ Your face is like a bottle top./ You!/ Your eyes are like the sea. You!/ Your smile is like a bun with a cut in it' (a dolphin). Scaffold the children's thinking by going through the technique of simile in the poem first, then create a shared poem together. Can be extended by children creating their own poem by looking at familiar objects or animals and making them appear unfamiliar.
Look again at specific words in the poem. How does the poem read if we change them? Words such as: 'elusive', 'sliver', 'full-throttle'. Draw up a list of replacement word, using dictionaries/thesauruses. Elicit responses to these new words. Model for the children, and attempt a class poem, using shared writing. This could lead on to children writing poems based on the model in pairs, or individually, depending on age, ability and experience.
Other poems by Judith Nicholls
, especially 'Learning to Swim'
'You!' (from the Igbo dialect, Nigeria), The Oxford Book of Animal Poems
, eds. Harrison and Stuart-Clark
The New Exeter Book of Riddles
, eds. Kevin Crossley-Holland and Lawrence Sail (Enitharmon)
The Red All Over Riddle Book
, George Szirtes (Faber)
The Exeter Book of Riddles
, trans. Kevin Crossley-Holland (Penguin Classics)