Lesson by: Carolyn Purslow


All pupils will... pre-empt sounds or actions in a familiar poem.

Some pupils will... explore the sounds their body can make.

A few pupils will... find different ways to convey the atmosphere of the poem.


These ideas are informed by an inclusive style of teaching and are multi-sensory in their offering.

This is a loud, lively, energetic poem, just great for dancing to. It is a poem that needs performing.

The pupils may engage with the poem in many different ways. Consider how they listen and respond to the language and rhythm.

It would be excellent to return to the poem regularly over a period of at least three weeks, to allow pupils a chance to engage with the poem and to give them the time and space to make their response.

Resources needed

  • PC with internet access and/or interactive whiteboard with reading of 'The Boneyard Rap' by Wes Magee.
  • Mock skeleton.
  • Symbolised words to support understanding.
  • Box of percussion instruments that make a range of boneyard sounds (bone-shaped wherever possible!).
  • Selection of sticks and stones (... may break my bones).
  • A ghostly white sheet and one of those plastic echo microphones for an effective 'Wooooooooo' sound.
  • If you have an interactive whiteboard, find old churchyard and gravestone images to display.

Teaching Sequence of Activities


Consider: What is a boneyard? Where can you find a graveyard? And what will you find there? Talk about the body, the skeleton and the bones.

Do a shaking warm-up to 'ghostly' music. Locating all those body parts.


Taking the poem on a journey

Introduce 'The Boneyard Rap' as a poem, rhyming words and rhythms to sing, speak and play.

Choose to use a series of signs that signal the start of the poem. Use an associated sound, eg a bone-rattling percussion instrument; the title of the poem on card; and a skeleton.

Listen to the poet reading his poem. Read out the poem as much like a rap as possible, allowing the rhythm of the words to come through. Encourage pupils to 'rap' along with you. Use Makaton signs and symbolised words where relevant, to focus listening and enhance meaning.

Make the skeleton dance.

Explore the sounds the body can make: slap, clap, click, woooo...

Use movement and dance to explore the potential action of the poem.

Play with percussion instruments and set up 'the boneyard band' to accompany the rap.

Working with one verse at a time, take turns to choose lines or individual words to activate. Use symbolised cue cards for pupils to repeat words or lines.

The ghosts can explore 'woooo' sounds with the microphone and sheet.

Extension Activities

  • Use the sticks and stones to make skeleton shape images.
  • Play 'Skeleton says...'

Further reading and listening

Listen to a recording of the African-American Spiritual 'Dry Bones'.
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