Bully on the Bus Class Activities

Last week I visited a Year 4 class that’s studying Bully on the Bus as their class novel. They’d only recently started, but I was already impressed with the teacher’s creative approach – and the breadth of interaction with the text. The depth too, but I say breadth because already evident was the range of tasks – done richly. (My teacher-heart is happy, because there’s not enough of that in classrooms these days. So many external pressures!!!)

Class Board

This board is a work in progress.

We talked about the inspiration for the story, and the process of writing it, focusing particularly on how white space and alignment dictate the flow (and reading) of a poem. This is particularly evident in Bully on the Bus, which was first written as a chapter book, but which stands so much more powerfully as a verse novel.

Volcano Shape Poem

We also had a quick look at shape (concrete) poems, and the different approaches you can take, so that the words are the poetry, and the shape enriches that. (As opposed to just stringing random words and thoughts together to represent a shape.) We discussed how rhyme, personification and wordplay enhance shape poetry. We looked at outline shape poems, and solid shape poems. But the most important thing we noted was that each and every word has to earn its place in the poem – not just fill a space.


(I found out during my talk, that that’s what they’re writing this week; shape poems! So I’m really glad we discussed that. And I could share some links to resources on my site.)

Two groups performed a poem each from Bully on the Bus. Which was moving on a completely new level. I hadn’t considered it as a performance piece – but having seen what the groups did with ‘Drop Offs’ and ‘Yes You’ … They helped me see new possibilities!

Matching flowers!

The class then presented me with chocolates and flowers by way of thank-you … and a poem that they had written, inspired by the first poem in the book. I love that they even paid attention to the font!

The Author (a poem)

I’m looking forward to hearing/seeing what else they produce throughout the term. The teacher has very generously offered to share her resources on completion of the unit, so these will be added to the blog when they are available. How generous!

Be yourself.
better than a bully
any day.

You’ll catch the Poetry Friday crew, on Jama’s Alphabet Soup this week, so click across and find what inspiring things others have discovered. And while you’re there, check out Jama’s Indie Artist Spotlight on Rommydebommy. It is incr-edible!


  1. Hello Kathryn. This is beyond uplifting. Appreciations so much for sharing these details of the student/teacher response to your novel in verse. Cheered about how fabulous a teacher these students study with.
    And how wonderful a book you wrote, to elicit these responses. Brava!


  2. Thank-you for visiting – and sharing your appreciation. Big Blue Whale was fun to write – and is popular with kids on author visits. (It amazes me, how many kids don’t know to rotate the page as you write – instead trying to turn themselves inside out and upside down!)


  3. I am in awe! The whale poem is beyond masterful. Lucky students (& teacher) to have your in-person mentoring. I feel very blessed to be able to enjoy and learn from your poetic prowess. God bless!


  4. Pingback: New Bully on the Bus Teacher Resources | Kathryn Apel

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