Reading lesson: Please Mrs Butler by Allan Ahlberg

Home learning focus

Using the poems Please Mrs Butler and Excuses by Allan Ahlberg, you will practise summarising. You will also give your opinion, using the text as evidence to support you. Finally, you will get creative and try writing another verse for one of the poems.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos of Strictly Come Dancing's Oti Mabuse reading poems by Allan Ahlberg

  • three activities.


Watch Oti Mabuse read Please Mrs Butler by Allan Ahlberg.

Watch Oti Mabuse read Please Mrs Butler by Allan Ahlberg

Now watch Oti reading another poem by Allan Ahlberg.

This one is called Emma Hackett's Newsbook.

Oti Mabuse reads Emma Hackett's Newsbook by Allan Ahlberg.


You may need paper and a pen or pencil for some of these activities.

Activity 1

Read Please Mrs Butler by Allan Ahlberg.

Top tip!

This is a great poem to read aloud with two people. One person can read what the teacher says and the other can read what the child says. Focus on changing your voices, facial expression and body language to show how the characters react.

Please Mrs Butler

Please Mrs Butler
This boy Derek Drew
Keeps copying my work, Miss.
What shall I do?

Go and sit in the hall, dear.
Go and sit in the sink.
Take your books on the roof, my lamb.
Do whatever you think.

Please Mrs Butler
This boy Derek Drew
Keeps taking my rubber, Miss.
What shall I do?

Keep it in your hand, dear.
Hide it up your vest.
Swallow it if you like, my love.
Do what you think best.

Please Mrs Butler
This boy Derek Drew
Keeps calling me rude names, Miss.
What shall I do?

Lock yourself in the cupboard, dear.
Run away to sea.
Do whatever you can, my flower.
But don’t ask me!

Allen Ahlberg’s classic poetry collection perfectly captures primary school life. Filled with typical classroom events to be enjoyed by everyone. Published by Puffin.

You are now going to show your understanding of the poem by summarising what has happened using hashtags.

For this activity, your hashtag should not be more than six words long.

For example:

# Who is Mrs Butler?

# Mean Derek Drew

# Copycat

# Lamb on the roof!

# Derek Drew strikes again

# Eating rubbers next!

Top tip!

You might find it easier if you read a few sentences and then stop to write your hashtag.

Activity 2

Read the poem Excuses by Allan Ahlberg.

While you read, think about the question below.

  • Is it the same child with lots of excuses or different children speaking?

Top tip!

Read the last line very carefully: ‘So… can we start again?’


I’ve writ on the wrong page, Miss.
My pencil went all blunt.
My book was upside-down, Miss.
My book was back to front.

My margin’s gone all crooked, Miss.
I’ve smudged mine with my scarf.
I’ve rubbed a hole in the paper, Miss.
My ruler’s broke in half.

My work’s blew out the window, Miss.
My work’s fell in the bin.
The leg’s dropped off my chair, Miss.
The ceiling’s coming in.

I’ve ate a poison apple, Miss.
I’ve held a poison pen!
I think I’m being kidnapped, Miss!
So . . . can we start again?

1. This poem is full of excuses, but which one is the best excuse?

Draw a horizontal line and write 'best' on the left hand side and 'worst' on the right hand side. This is your scale.

Now position the excuses on your scale to show your opinion about which are the best and which are the worst excuses.

Can you create a better excuse?

2. Imagine you are giving awards to the excuses. Which excuse is the funniest, the most dramatic and the least likely?

Record your ideas in a table with a reason.

AwardWinning excuseReason
The funniest excuse
The most dramatic excuse
The excuse that is least likely to happen

Activity 3

Write another verse for one of the poems.

You'll need to keep to the same rhyme scheme.

If you need to, watch the clip below to revise what rhyme schemes are.

Watch this clip to learn about rhyme schemes.
  • Which poem do you think you could add another verse to?

  • Play with the rhyme scheme and think about which words will rhyme. You could build a bank of rhyming words to use.

Top tip!

If you need some inspiration, Please Mrs Butler has a clear structure that you can use.

Please Mrs Butler

This boy Derek Drew

Keeps ...
What shall I do?

There's more to learn

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