Section 2

Animal potpourri
11. A to Z of collective nouns

Put on a suitable drum beat and read through the list without stopping. Read alternatively in pairs keeping your speech rhythmic and precise. Which are your favourites and how many can you memorize? Start with the noun and see if it triggers the creature... A Quiver of...?

A       Ambush of Tigers

B       Business of Ferrets

C       Caravan of Camels

D       Drove of Donkeys

E       Exaltation of Larks

F       Farrow of Piglets

G       Gaggle of Geese

H       Hedge of Herons

I         Implausibility of Gnus

J        Jitter of Jack Russells

K       Kindle of Kittens

L       Labour of Moles

M      Mob of Meerkats

N      Nursery of Raccoons 

O      Ostentation of Peacocks

P       Prickle of Porcupines

Q      Quiver of Cobras

R      Rhumba of Rattlesnakes

S      Stench of Skunks

T      Thunder of Dragons

U      Unkindness of Ravens

V      Venue of Vultures

W    Waddle of Penguins

X      X-Ray of Tetras

Y      Yap of Chihuahuas

Z      Zeal of Zebras


1       Camel                                                  2       Chihuahuas                                            3        Cobras                                                   4         Donkeys

5       Dragons                                              6       Ferrets                                                    7        Geese                                                     8        Gnus

9       Herons                                               10      Jack Russells                                        11        Kittens                                                   12        Larks

13      Meerkats                                           14      Moles                                                     15        Peacocks                                              16       Penguins

17      Piglets                                               18      Porcupines                                            19        Raccoons                                             20       Rattlesnakes

21      Ravens                                              22      Skunks                                                   23        Tetras                                                    24       Tigers

25     Vultures                                            26      Zebras

A       Ambush                                             B      Business                                                  C        Caravan                                                 D       Drove

E       Exaltation                                           F      Farrow                                                      G        Gaggle                                                  H       Hedge

I        Implausibility                                     J      Jitter                                                          K        Kindle                                                    L       Labour

M      Mob                                                    N     Nursery                                                     O       Ostentation                                           P       Prickle

Q      Quiver                                                 R     Rhumba                                                    S        Stench                                                   T       Thunder

U      Unkindness                                       V     Venue                                                        W      Waddle                                                  X       X-ray

Y      Yap                                                      Z     Zeal

Why not turn this into a memory game?

Click the web-link below the spinner to discover an interactive version of the wheels that will randomly select an animal (first link) or a collective noun (second link. Once the spinner has selected a word, see who can provide the matching information the fastest. To avoid repetition you can choose to remove the word from the spinner once it has been used.

To make it into a game of bingo, invite the children to choose six words at random from the list above and write them on a piece of paper. Spin the appropriate wheel. As each word appears the children cross them off their list shouting 'bingo' when all six are crossed off. To make it more difficult, ask the children to choose the words from one list and use the other spinner to generate the answer.

Animal wheel
Collective noun wheel
12. Creature poems

"Memorising and reciting are prevalent in all parts of the new National Curriculum, with poetry taking centre stage in English.

From year one onwards children will have to learn and recite poems by heart while recognising and discussing different poetic forms."

The performance element of poetry is great for getting children out of their seats and working together. With this in mind we have drawn together a selection of animal themed poems to pique your interest and guide you on your poetic journey.

We encourage you to explore the rhymes and discover the rhythms, bring out the jokes and delight in the puns, enjoy the taste and feel of the words on your lips as you recite them!

Ideas for using poetry
  • Generate rhyming strings. Select a word and explore how many rhyming words you can find - you can decide whether or not to 'allow' nonsense or made up words. Our advice - keep it simple to start with.

  • Adapt an existing poem. Take a poem and make it your own in one or more of these ways:

    • find lines you particularly like and repeat them​

    • use the words in different orders - cut it up - literally! Rearrange the sequence of lines or words

    • remove, substitute or add extra words, phrases or lines.

  • Sound and motion. Add noises, sounds, actions or Makaton signing to bring your poem to life.

  • Poetry swap - children bring in their favourite animal poem to share - collect and keep these as an anthology.

  • Blackout poem. Make a blackout poem - take a (black) marker pen to an already established text - like in a newspaper - and start redacting words until a poem is formed. The key thing with a blackout poem is that the text AND redacted text form a sort of visual poem.

Poem 1
Poem 2

For further inspiration and suggestions for how to perform poetry see 'Michael Rosen's top tips for performing poems and stories':

Index of poems
  1. Higglety, pigglety, pop

  2. Whisky Frisky

  3. Five little owls

  4. The snail

  5. What became of them?

  6. Hurt no living thing

  7. The faithful dog

  8. The peacock

  9. Trees

1. Higglety, pigglety, pop - Anon

Higglety, pigglety, pop,

The dog has eaten the mop

The pig's in a hurry

The cat's in a flurry,

Higglety, pigglety, pop.

2. Whisky Frisky - Anon

Whisky Frisky,

Hipperty Hop,

Up he goes

To the tree top!

Whirly, twirly,

Round and round,

Down he scampers

To the ground.

Furly, curly,

What a tail,

Tall as a feather,

Broad as a sail.

Where's his supper?

In the shell,

Snappy, cracky, 

Out it fell.

3. Five little owls - Anon

Five little owls in an old elm tree, 

Fluffy and puffy as owls could be;

Blinking and winking with big round eyes,

At the big round moon that hung in the skies.

As I passed underneath I could hear one say,

"There'll be mouse for supper, there will, today!"

Then all of them hooted, "Tu-whit, tu-whoo!

Yes mouse for supper, hoo hoo, hoo hoo!"

4. The snail - Anon

The snail he lives in his hard round house,

In the orchard, under the tree:

Says he, "I have but a single room;

But it's large enough for me."

The snail in his little house doth dwell

All the week from end to end.

You're at home, Master Snail; tat's all very well.

But you never receive a friend.

5. What became of them? - Anon

He was a rat, and she was a rat,

And down in one hole they did dwell,

And both were as black as a witch's cat,

And they loved one another well.

He had a tail, and she had a tail,

Both long and curling and fine;

And each said, "Yours is the finest tail

In the world, excepting mine."

He smelt the cheese, and she smelt the cheese,

And they both pronounced it good;

And both remarked it would greatly add

To the charms of their daily food.

So he venture out, and she ventured out,

And I saw them go with pain;

But what befell them I never can tell,

For they never came back again.

6. Hurt no living thing - Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Hurt no living thing:

Ladybird, nor butterfly,

Nor moth with dusty wing,

Nor cricket chirping cheerily,

Nor grasshopper so light of leap,

Nor dancing gnat, nor beetle fat,

Nor harmless worms that creep.

7. The faithful dog - George Crabb (1754-1832)

With eye upraised his master's look to scan,

The joy, the solace, and the aid of man;

The rich man's guardian and the poor man's friend,

The only creature faithful to the end.

8. The peacock - Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894)

The peacock has a score of eyes,

With which he cannot see;

The cod-fish has a silent sound,

However that may be;

No dandelions tell the time,

Although they turn to clocks;

Cat's-cradle does not hold the cat,

Nor foxglove fit the fox.

9. Trees - Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.