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Teaching in London UK: Having Fun with Reading Hour!


Gareth is a Secondary Teacher from Perth who is working in West London Primary schools in the UK through Protocol Education.

Finding your story-voice

One of the best things about teaching primary school classes is using silly voices when reading books to a class. There’s nothing more ego-boosting than having a bunch of seven-year-olds laughing hysterically as you give voice to an aggravated witch.
The trick of course is to not over do it.

Don't overdo it

It’s best to choose one character to be the point of focus for a silly voice. The best comedies only have one or two characters that have a ridiculous voice. Sabrina the Teenage Witch had Salem the cat, American Dad has Klaus the fish and Roger the alien, and Family Matters had Steve Urkel. It’s the juxtaposition that creates humour, so keep the crazy under control.

Think about the pupils

Establishing the age barrier for silly voices is important. Usually by Year 5, it is pushing it to try reading in a stupid accent. But this is not steadfast. If the students appear to be creatively minded and sensible enough to enjoy some theatrics, go ahead.

With older teenage audiences it is usually best to go for the dry approach, for risk of being ridiculed. But don’t go completely monotonous or you’ll be met with the obligatory cry of “Sir, you need to read with expression.”

Play around with accents

This said, I did once read half of Prince Caspian to a Year 8 class in Australia, voicing Reepicheep the mouse with a Cockney accent at the students’ request.

And if silly voices are your thing, start using them to animate the soft toys and puppets around the classroom. Attributing them a trademark catchphrase or sound will add extra hilarity.

Sooty and Sweep

Seeing Sooty and Sweep performing recently with their offsider Richard Cadell, at Hampton Court Palace for the Queen’s Jubilee, reminded me how effective a well-placed squeak can be for comic effect – demonstrated especially well when Sweep was pumping out his rendition of Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’.

So if you still haven’t found your voice through teaching, just put on a silly one and at least someone will laugh.

~ by Gareth, an Australian Teacher working through Protocol Education in West London. Read more by Gareth.

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Tags: Gareth, Teacher, Australian Teachers, OTT, Overseas Trained Teachers, Secondary, Teacher, Primary, Reading Hour, Teach in London,

Category: UK Teaching Stories

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