There's a (C) very funny insect that you (G7) do not often (C) spy,
And it (C) isn't quite a spider, and it (G7) isn't quite a (C) fly;
It is (F) something like a (C) beetle, and a (G7) little like a (C) bee,
But (C) nothing like a woolly grub that (G7) climbs upon a (C) tree.
Its (F) name is quite a hard one, but you'll (C) learn it soon, I hope.
So (G7) try:
(C) Trianti (G7) wontigongo (C) lope.
It lives on weeds and wattle-gum, and has a funny face;
Its appetite is hearty, and its manners a disgrace.
When first you come upon it, it will give you quite a scare,
But when you look for it again, you find it isn't there.
And unless you call it softly it will stay away and mope.
It trembles if you tickle it or tread upon its toes;
It is not an early riser, but it has a snubbish nose.
If you snear at it, or scold it, it will scuttle off in shame,
But it purrs and purrs quite proudly if you call it by its name,
And offer it some sandwiches of sealing-wax and soap.
But of course you haven't seen it; and I truthfully confess
That I haven't seen it either, and I don't know its address.
For there isn't such an insect, though there really might have been
If the trees and grass were purple, and the sky was bottle green.
It's just a little joke of mine, which you'll forgive, I hope.
During the summer term, in classrooms across the country, mini-beasts will be a subject of learning. That was no different when I was an active classroom teacher, but my classes went in search of the Triantiwontigongolope. This came about after I discovered a poem, written by C.J. Dennis (1876 - 1938). With the help of a very talented musical colleague, we turned this into a song based on an Irish Jig, so it was at once catchy and engaging. It was able to serve a multitude of needs.
We did a range of searches around the grounds.
- Using upturned light coloured umbrellas underneath low bushes to shake and catch the falling insects.
- Putting sheets under bigger trees and shaking branches.
- We put out jam jars and tins from the kitchens as traps.
- We dug through the composting heap of leaves and grass clippings.
- We looked and looked regularly and just spotted things, in flight, as well as static.
- We got out pooters and magnifiers and classification guides.
- We drew and labelled and classified and described in detail.
- We drew and painted.
- We measured and created fair tests; eg how fast does a snail/mealworm move over different surfaces?
- We imagineered the Triantiwontigongolope, as pictures and personal writings and poetry, as well as making 3D models. One poem became the start point for a great deal of complementary learning.