Crowds, rabbles and throngs, clubs, hordes and troupes

Are Collectives for people who gather in Groups

But what do we call friends who are woolly and furry

Barking or whistling, singing or purry?

When they get together with family and friends

What is the word for their special blends?


Let’s start with the alphabet, that means the A

Which letter was first from the Ark would you say?

It wasn’t the whale, the worm or the shark –

But a shy bunch of prickles we call the Aardvark.

If you should meet lots of aardvaarks at once

And call them an Armoury, you’d not be a dunce.


If you’re keen on games and like jokes and japes

You’ll be happy to meet a grouping of Apes

But what will you call them – this family of jokers…

This smart clever band of naughty provokers?

The word is descriptive, it’s perfectly apt

A *Shrewdness of Apes has them all neatly capped.


Now think of the sea, in the depths of the ocean

Where swims a predator in fast or slow motion

He is hunted and eaten, grows more than three meters

Provides tasty meals and feeds plenty of eaters

He’s a high-powered fish and fond of flattery

When found in groups it’s a Barracuda Battery.


Our next group of B is from land, not the sea

And some of his kind live and sleep in a tree

Some like the snow, others the jungle

The name for this lot seems a silly bungle

It’s a **Sleuth or a Sloth when you see many Bears

An affliction of fiction from hundreds of years.


The last of our B’s flies dainty and free

Over the land but seldom the sea

She does beautiful things with colourful wings

She dances o’er flowers as the sweet bird sings

A Flutter of Butterflies is commonly heard

But Kaleidoscope’s often the Collective word.



Jan Darling


Teaching Notes:


Sounds of the Aardvark:  soft grunts as it forages (looks for food like antnests); loud grunts as it approaches its nest entrance and soft bleats if frightened.


What do you call a group of Aardvaarks?


How many ‘As’ are there in Aardvaark?


Sounds of the Ape: sounds like something between a series of dog yaps and UGH!The sound is called a ‘jibber’.


What do you call a group of Apes?


What is the meaning of ‘shrewd’?


*Shrewd means both clever and sharp.   Apes are known to observe you closely, often appearing to deduce what your next move will be.



Sounds of the Barracuda:  Sadly, most fish sounds are inaudible to the human ear.  But if we could hear them, fish-talk would sound like purrs, grunts, hums, clicks and hoots.


What is a group of Barracuda called?

Information not included in the poem: Barracuda can grow up to 100 cm and weigh up to 9 kilos.    They can live 10-15 years because they have few natural predators – only man, sharks and the Orca whale.


Sounds of Bears:  Each Bear family has a different sound, they growl and when angry they roar, Bear cubs make a hoarse bawl when they’re scared, they also make whuffing noises and they moan and grumble.


What is the name for a group of Bears?


What characteristic does this name imply?


**Both Sleuth and Sloth come from Old and Middle English.  Some writers associate the idea of Bears often seeming to look for things with ‘sleuth’ or detective.  Most agree that Sloth comes from Old English Slow-th, meaning slow.  We now know that not all Bears are slow.  In fact you should never run from a bear – he can cover 50 yards in 3 seconds!   And your running will just encourage him.  


Yards: an imperial measure equal to the metric measure of  0.9144.    Discuss Imperial and Metric measures.


What sounds do baby bears make?


Sounds of the Butterfly:  they flutter – an onomatapoeiac word.


Onomatapoeia is a “figure of speech” – it describes a word that itself sounds like the subject it refers to!


What are examples of onomatapoeiac words?

Baa-lamb.  Baa is the sound that the lamb makes.  

Or sizzle – the sound that the steak makes.

Buzz – the sound a bee makes.


What is a group of butterflies called?


Information not included in the poem:  The butterfly has four different stages of growth: the Egg, 100-300 are laid at a time.  The Caterpillar: the egg produces a caterpillar which grows to its final size and then becomes the Pupa (which are usually attached to the underside of a leaf), which finally produces the Butterfly.


All sounds are available online.  Simply Google ‘Sound of the …’ and you will be taken either to a dedicated website or to YouTube.


  1. Dear Readers Apologies for the extra A in Aardvark. I thought I had corrected it everywhere. (My fingers like the A). Jan


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s