Poem Activity

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The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb

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Poem Activity

Have fun with the poem by trying this...

This poem is a 'cautionary tale' designed to point out to children the consequences of poor behaviour. It's gruesome but in a comic, exaggerated way. It's great fun to perform!

Notice the different voices in the poem - the cautionary tale narrator, Conrad's mother, poor Conrad and the very scary, scissor wielding tailor. Enjoy trying out the different voices and the sound effects 'Oh! Oh! Oh!' and 'Snip! Snap! Snip!'

If you're performing the poem alone think about how your listeners will know when you're switching between voices. If you can perform with others, you could take different parts.

This poem is full of energy with a strong beat and rhyming lines to propel the story along. Be careful not to go too fast. Use the punctuation to include pauses of different lengths! Prepare your own reading of the poem paying particular attention to the rhyming couplets and the sounds they create. Think too about the pace of the poem. It’s a great poem to work on in a pair or a group of three when you can bring to life the mother, poor Conrad and, in a dramatic performance, the very scary, scissor wielding tailor.

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One day, Mamma said, “Conrad dear,
I must go out and leave you here.
But mind now, Conrad, what I say,
Don’t suck your thumb while I’m away.
The great tall tailor always comes
To little boys that suck their thumbs.
And ere they dream what he’s about
He takes his great sharp scissors
And cuts their thumbs clean off, – and then
You know, they never grow again.”

Mamma had scarcely turn’d her back,
The thumb was in, alack! alack!

The door flew open, in he ran,
The great, long, red-legged scissorman.
Oh! children, see! the tailor’s come
And caught our little Suck-a-Thumb.

Snip! Snap! Snip! the scissors go;
And Conrad cries out – Oh! Oh! Oh!
Snip! Snap! Snip! They go so fast;
That both his thumbs are off at last.
Mamma comes home; there Conrad stands,
And looks quite sad, and shows his hands;-
“Ah!” said Mamma “I knew he’d come
To naughty little Suck-a-Thumb.”

The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb

by Heinrich Hoffmann