Charming and delightful and oh-so-wicked… words that entice children and make them smile! This little poem by 19th century poet/author Lewis Carroll will have your children smiling almost as gently wickedly as the little crocodile in the poem HOW DOTH THE LITTLE CROCODILE. Hold on for your dear lives…
How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!
Read the poem with your children. You may wish to read the first stanza with a flavor of admiration for the beauty of the crocodile. Give your children the feeling of the little, shining, golden crocodile… so pretty and so sweet. Begin the second stanza in much the same way, emphasizing the words cheerfully, neatly, welcomes… all the way down to gently smiling. This little crocodile seems oh-so-nice, doesn’t he?
The surprise of the last word, the very last word of the poem, is what makes it so memorable. JAWS. Jaws is a powerful word, especially when described as gently smiling. We are taken on a completely different path here. Now we’re watching those welcomed little fishes swim directly into the crocodile’s gently smiling jaws! Ask your children if they saw this coming/anticipated this ending. Ask if they think the little crocodile is mean or angry or wicked. Or, is the crocodile just hungry? (OK. Maybe the little crocodile does enjoy the way he skillfully and artfully improves his tail and catches his prey.) Ask: When the crocodile is grinning cheerfully and neatly spreading his claws, what did you think he was getting ready to do?
This poem swims with rich imagery and has a little bite to it (ha,ha!); shining tail, golden scale, cheerful grin, smiling jaws. Children LOVE delightful little verses with words they can see and feel, especially verses with surprise endings. Certainly, the marvel and beauty of this magnificent creature provides some comic relief to all (but, of course, those little fishes). Read the poem once again and act out the motions of the little crocodile. Feel the fun. LITERACY is all about WORDS – Written, Spoken, Felt.