Lesson by: Carolyn Purslow


All pupils will attend and respond to the sound, rhythm and mood of the text.



Resources needed

  • PC/interactive whiteboard with access to the Poetry Archive recording of I see you dancing, Father by Brendan Kennelly
  • CD of Irish dance music
  • Tin whistles, recorders and kazoos
  • Space to dance
  • If you have an interactive whiteboard, find images of rural Ireland or Irish dancers to display and refer to.

Teaching Sequence of Activities


Introduce 'I see you dancing, Father' as a poem about life and death; about how good it is to be alive and how different people can just celebrate being alive in everyday ways.

Choose to use a series of signs that signal the start of the poem. Use an associated sound - a short intro on the tin whistle.

Listen to the poet reading his poem.

Activate the poem with the pupils. Make a circle of chairs with a space as the entrance. Come into the space, begin the small dance in one part of the body and allow the dance to take over. What is it that triggers the movement? Was it something he saw out of the window or something he heard? Was it the way he began his day (eg get up, wash, have dance, eat breakfast)?

Devise the 'I see you dancing, Father' game. Who can do the smallest dance without being noticed?

Who can whistle?

Listen to the poet reading his poem. Talk about the poem as a memorial to his father. How important it is to remember people we loved. Consider whether this is a happy or sad poem. How does that choice impact on the way you read it or listen to it?

Take a word from each verse as a trigger for a movement or action. Try and keep that movement going until the next trigger. Is there a pattern that emerges?

Play the Irish music and find a dance.

Use Makaton signs or pictures, or symbolised words where relevant, to focus listening and enhance meaning.

Further reading and listening

Red Boots On by Kit Wright: another poem about love and joy.
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Lesson plans and classroom activities

Each of these lessons and activities is built around one of the recordings in the Archive, and is ready for you to print off and use in the classroom