The Jumblies is a narrative nonsense poem, or story poem, written by Edward Lear (first published in the collection, Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets in 1871). It is a classic, remaining popular over centuries for its sense of fun, rhythm and rhyme, making it easy to learn by heart. It tells the story of the Jumblies who journey across the sea in their improbable holey boat to a distant land. With green heads and blue hands, they are like early aliens, strangers from far away places, on a twenty year voyage before returning home, with a boat full of treasures and lots of stories to tell.
Available as an illustrated poem in a picturebook version, or as part of a collection.
Listen to, and watch, the poem read aloud by Michael Rosen
See illustrations/animations of the poem o video
Talk about the poem
Talk about all the nonsense features in the poem, eg a boat that’s a sieve, sleeping in a crockery-jar, and any unfamiliar words eg rash, riband, warbled.
You could use a dictionary or online version to look them up.
Talk about the items they collected on their voyage. What kinds of things do you collect from your walks, visits or holiday?
Things to make and do
Perform the poem
Make a sound recording of the poem (on tape or phone) of you reading it aloud or singing, together with any sound effects or percussion. Gather percussion objects together (eg saucepans, wooden spoons) create voice sounds (eg swishing or storm noises) and have a practice first!
Make a map
Make a ‘map of the Jumblies’ voyage, labelling all the places they visit, and draw all the different items they collect from their travels to distant lands.
Make a diary
Make a Jumblie diary of a day or two in the voyage, capturing the most eventful or interesting events and experiences of the journey. You can illustrate it, too.
Write a limerick
Edward Lear was well-known for his limericks. These are humorous one-verse poems with a distinct pattern, rhyme and tune. Read some here, then try out some of your own.
See our print-off activity book with some of these ideas and other activities