Tag Archives: Victorians

Puppets, poems, owls, pussycats and wedding presents – more ideas for celebrating International Owl and Pussycat day

Decided how you’ll celebrate International Owl and Pussycat Day, 12 May?

12 May is  Edward Lear’s birthday and 2012  is his 200th birthday. A bicentennial of bosh, a bicentenary of nonsense (and some superb landscape and animal paintings too). You might also have noticed it’s Dickens’ 200th birthday in 2012 as well.  Lots of the way Dickens’ bicentenary is celebrated you could borrow as ideas for Lear’s birthday too! see our events page http://nonsenselit.wordpress.com/ 

 What about an Owl and Pussycat puppet show?  

On my wedding day I was presented by my wife with an unusual wedding present, a vintage pair of Owl and Pussycat hand puppets, old enough to have the cardboard neck tube style head. The Owl and Pussycat poem is a poem about a wedding after all, and I did meet my wife doing puppetry and bug handling for Newquay Zoo on outreach at one of our partner galleries. Like British Sign Language and bugs (the bugs get vertigo and seasick pretty quick), I found that puppets and bugs don’t mix well.  But that’s another story …

We’ll come back to the wedding or birthday present idea in another – but what would you give the Owl and The Pussycat as a wedding gift? Who alive or dead, real or fictional, would you invite to their wedding reception? What nonsense plants would be be their wedding bouquet? http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ns/nb.html Who would design the wedding outfits for guests? And the ring if the piggywig didn’t wnat to sell his? You could design (make and eat!) a suitable nonsense wedding cake, the invitations … Lear loved nonsesnse cookery and there are some nonsense cooking in his books http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ns/cookery.html

Puppet theatres were a big Victorian passion and you can see how to make one on the fabulous Victorian Farm Christmas website crafts section with downloadable templates amongst many other fabulous ideas http://www.bbc.co.uk/victorianchristmas/activity/toy-theatre.shtml

You don’t need to build a whole theatre, a shoebox ‘television’ http://http://www.roughmagictheatre.co.uk/html/buxton_puppet_festival_-__shoe.html or a shadow puppet version are easy enough to rough together.

We’ve used puppets at the zoo and in gallery talks from time to time, using everything from hand puppets to an OHP Overhead Projector  (old technology now, should be few lying around in schools)  to proper lit from behind tissue paper or thin cloth screens and torches.

Esay puppetry? Print out the Owl and Pussycat illustrations on card whatever size you want, cut them out, put them on sticks and away you go …. paint the backdrop, use them as shadow puppets. http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ns/index.html 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You don’t need much to make a stage – half a blocked doorway with a cloth pinned up (for the Owl and Pussycat Sea, naturally) or an upturned desk will do the trick.

The puppetry portal website http://www.puppetry.info/ has masses of useful information.

The wonderful Rough Magic Theatre from Bolton have Lear and Lewis Carroll shows using a suitcase shadow puppet theatre. Watch their video and you’ll be wanting to make one of these walking spiv suitcase stages yourself! http://www.roughmagictheatre.co.uk/html/jabberwocky_.html

If you can’t make it to Covent Garden, you visit the fabulous Pollock’s Tpyshop online  http://www.pollockstoytheatres.com/index.htm 

http://www.pollocks-coventgarden.co.uk/index.php/links-page

More ideas for International Owl and Pussycat Day in the next few weeks – and we’ve loved to hear how you are going to celebrate Edward Lear’s birthday using this poem or any other ways …

Now whicvh of all this will we do at Newquay Zoo on Lear’s birthday, 12 May 2012? So many to choose from?

 

Ten more ideas for teaching the Owl and Pussycat or other nonsense in the classroom!

Ten more random ideas for teaching the Owl and The Pussycat poem in your classroom …   a random selection as various Newquay Zoo staff  came up with these whilst eating our lunch. (No runcible spoons, mice or quince included.)

If you’d like to share your ideas for teaching the Owl and the Pussycat , add them to the comments section at the bottom of each post and we’ll upload these (after moderation).

No 1.  Show us your groovy moves!

In the poem the Owl and the Pussycat “danced by the light of the moon” (the moon, the moon) – but how did they dance? Remember this is a wedding dance, so rhythmless dad-dancing is possible! Did the Owl and the Pussycat, the Turkey  and the Pig dance differently? Can you show their character through their dance?

No. 2 Owl Heads and Pussycat Tails –

Print out the words of the poem or first verse and cut each line in half  then give a set to each small group to reassemble the poem (or just Jumblie up and  rearrange this).    

No. 3  Blankety Blank  verse or Conse-quince-s … 

Print out the poem with some, alternate  or all key rhyming words missing or blanked out and see if the group can work out what the missing words should be … you can always put the missing words in a jumble at the bottom of the sheet / page if you want to be helpful. Blanked out words with alternative words of their own are always an amusing variation … 

No. 4 Round and round the Owl and Pussycat …

What happens when you sing this as a round, one group starting a few lines after the other? (Chaos probably).  

No. 5  Wordsearch Owl or Crossword Puzzlecat

Pick out your favourite nonsense words and type them into a wordsearch or crossword puzzle making programme (there are loads to download on the Web). Alternatively let your spellchecker suggest changes to the ‘odd’ Lear nonsense  words in the poem, and let your computer or group adopt  these  other strange or more sensible ones … 

No. 6  “And sang to a small guitar” … musical versions?

Edward Lear often made up and published his own music to accompany his songs, and sang them to people at gatherings. (People’s opinion of his talent and singing voice varied). Many people from Stravinsky to Katy Perry have set  Lear’s Owl and Pussycat words to music (see the bompa.org webiste which will play them to you). Listen to these, talk about your favourites  and get each group to vote / make up a top five Owl and Pussycat Pop chart.

No. 7 More music – Bong! Ring! (a ding-ding)

“Small guitar”  aside, there are lots of possibilities in setting this to music or choral speaking for percussion and mouth sounds from the Bong tree, to the ‘ring’ at the end of his nose, the sounds of the sea … 

No. 8 Put it on (cardboard) TV

Did you used to make your own TV programmes as a child using a box and long strips of paper as a child? Make yourself / your group its own TV out of a shoebox or bigger box. Cut out the screen front panel. Insert two large kitchen roll tubes or dowel rods either side of the ‘screen’. Don’t forget to draw on the control knobs  to make it look like a TV etc.

Draw or illustrate the poem on a long roll / sheet of paper or several sheets of paper stuck together). Sing or say the poem as you turn the  tubes or rods to pass the pictures past the screen.

It helped pass the time on  many a wet day in the 1970s … when Lootube came before Youtube.

No. 9  Owl and Pussycat Bayeux Tapestry style?  

1066 and all that! Amongst your group tell the story of the Owl and the Pussycat with embroidered textile, painted or drawn panels, like the Bayeux Tapestry (depending how much time you have) with the text words at the top or bottom.  It would make a good class mural project for display …

No. 10 The Owl and The Pussycat’s “Purr-fect Day” version

Remember a charity version of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day song with one line each sung by various celebrities? When we talked to the London Zoo Education CREW about Owl and Pussycat Day, they wanted to apply this style to the Owl and the Pussycat as a video using a line each from lots of different zoo and keeper staff and then stick it on Youtube. Maybe they will.

It would be even funnier if each line was in a different language – see the bompa.org website for examples. If you have different first language speakers in your class, this would truly make it an ‘International‘ Owl and Pussycat Purrfect Day version …

That’s 10 daft ideas to be getting on with … but before we go, we have to mention Paul the Zoo Groundsman’s suggestion when I was telling the rest of my lunch table about the 120 translations of the poem on the bompa.org website. Paul was disappointed that it wasn’t in Morse Code (or Semaphore), so maybe you could add a Purrfect day line in Morse (or flag). (Thanks, Paul)

We worked out that if you transmitted the entire poem in Morse, there is a small risk that somewhere in the world, a Coastguard or Lifeboat station would pick it up and be put onto red alert, helicopters scrambled etc looking for a two small animals in a pea green boat sending out distress signals … Don’t blame us if this happens.     

Someone else noted there’s no Makaton, BSL or other Sign Language version of this poem either yet on the bompa.org website. What is the BSL sign for Runcible Spoon?  

Reminder / Think you can do dafter? If you’d like to share your ideas for teaching the Owl and the Pussycat , add them to the comments section at the bottom and we’ll upload these (after moderation). Alternately you can contact us via my zoo email – its mark.norris    and that’s @newquayzoo.org.uk    

We’d love to hear from you!   Email would be better than Morse …

Edward Lear, The Owl and The Pussycat – a life (and death) in stamps

 

 

 

http://darwin200stampzoo.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/the-victorians-are-not-dead-and-gone-celebrating-the-big-and-bearded-victorian-icons-from-darwin-to-lear-a-future-festival-of-nonsense/

You can find more about the 1988 stamps and individual pictures at this website:

http://www.collectgbstamps.co.uk/explore/issues/?issue=329

We hope that more special first day covers are designed  for the 2012 celebrations.

Maybe you could ask students to design some nonsensical commemorative stamps for Edward Lear’s birthday, maybe to go with an invitation to a nonsense birthday party for Mr. Lear?