Jason spent an afternoon with Year 1 pupils at Garden Suburb Infant School in northwest London, introducing many to rhyme for the first time, as he read his acclaimed children’s picture book I Like To Put Food In My Welly and helped the teachers run a series of activities based on his book.
The afternoon began with about 75 five and six year olds piling into the school hall to hear him reading the book, which uses increasingly nonsensical rhymes to teach children about the structure and flow of language, while giving them big laugh.
Line after line, the laughter grew and grew until the teachers had to ask the children to stop.
“I’ve never heard so much laughter for the book,” Jason said later. “It was almost a shame that the teachers were telling the children to stop, since the book was designed to make children laugh. The fact that they had to KEEP telling them to stop laughing was subversively encouraging! For a moment, I thought I was going to get into trouble for causing too much commotion. But the teachers were in charge – and to be fair, if they’d have carried on laughing as much as they were, there wouldn’t have been time for all the activities.”
After the reading, the children returned to their classrooms and Jason visited them to assist with activities, drawn up by the teachers to continue the lessons from the book.
Children moved between tables where they were coming up with rhyming words, finding verbs and creating nonsense sentences, using props provided by the teachers to feed their creativity.
Jason provided each of the three classes with a sheet of stickers and two book-marks, for the teachers to reward the children who made the best effort.
“Some of the children didn’t know what rhyming was before you came in,” one of the teachers told him, “but by the end of the afternoon, they were coming up with their own rhyming sentences.”
“It’s one thing to make the children laugh,” enthused Jason,”but it’s particularly rewarding to see my book used as a tool to help them actively learning how to have fun with language.”
Watching the children showing off their stickers to their parents at the end of the day was similarly gratifying for Jason. “I’m not sure what was more satisfying,” he wondered. “Hearing 75 Year 1 children laughing hysterically at every line of my book or seeing dozens of them coming out of school, proudly displaying stickers on their chests!”