Introducing “Mr. Meerkat’s Poetry for Children” by Leo Reynolds

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Introducing to you all an Australian Poet Dr Leo Reynolds. Below is an overview of Leo and his work. His website has recently been used by a large number of American schools which is wonderful for Australian Poetry.

Dr. Leonard Reynolds (B.A., B.D., Dip. Ed., M.A., Ph.D.)

Dr. Leonard Reynolds was first listed with the International Who’s Who Historical Society in 2006. His expertise in learning development was to gain his Reynold Learning program recognition by the Cambridge-Oxford Guide to Global Education as one of the top 200 innovative education programs in the world. Dr. Reynolds has been a class teacher, university professor and school principal over the course of his 40 year career. He has been a registered teacher in three Australian states and has taught on four continents. His new series – Mr. Meerkat’s Poetry for Children, is a unique program with a rare Australian focus. The aim of the series is to take children on a journey through word craft and to build their literacy skills as they enjoy the poetry.

Click here to see a video.

Mr. Meerkat’s Poetry for Children


Mr. Meerkat’s Poetry for Children

Mr. Meerkat’s Poetry for children is a unique programme which takes children on a journey of poetry as word craft.

The aim of the poetry series is to build literacy through enjoyment. The poetry progresses in complexity of ideas and word craft from Foundation to Grade 6.

There are 20 Readers in the series with some 60 poems. There are 3 poems in each Reader. The levels of difficulty and comprehension rise through the class grades.

  • Stage 1: Foundation and Grades 1 and 2
  • Stage 2: Grades 3 and 4
  • Stage 3: Grades 5 and 6

The topics vary across a range of issues reflecting back to the reader ordinary aspects and encounters in the world around them. Some poems have uniquely Australian contexts and animals.

Teacher’s Companions

The Teacher’s companions are divided into three stages to reflect grade and literacy levels.

  • Stage 1: Foundation and Grades 1 and 2
  • Stage 2: Grades 3 and 4
  • Stage 3: Grades 5 and 6

Crafted to meet Curriculum grade-level content descriptors for English and/or other teaching areas, the program aligns with developing literacy and other General Capabilities.

The Teacher’s Companion for each poem focuses on contextual teaching with suggestions and activities to facilitate learning and engagement with poetry, language and complex themes.

This comprehensive three level resource assists with the planning, implementation, and teaching of   curriculum requirements. The poetry readers facilitate literacy development across key learning areas including: English, Science, Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS), Mathematics, the Arts, Technologies, Health and Physical Education (HPE).

The comprehension or other activities build literacy as students engage with written and spoken language. Part of the rationale for the work was for students to engage with poetry as storytelling, which is suited to the approach taken. The activities are designed for classroom use and give students opportunities to explore language and poetic devices. The nature of the activities varies with the poems, with some focus on poetic language and form, and others on storytelling and still others on cross-curricula activities.

Teacher’s Companions contain:

  • Explanatory notes for teachers to choose poems suited to their class/subject.
  • Lesson objectives.
  • General Capabilities and Cross-Curriculum Priorities.
  • Discussion Points for teachers.
  • Activities for students, including worksheets.


Activity Books

The Activities Book contains some 200 A4 size pages of activities for students that directly follow the listing of poems as set out in the Readers and Poetry Book.

Each section provides space for students to write their answers to questions.

The sections contain the complete poem followed by:

  • Discussion Points – Pre-Reading discussion, Stanza comprehension questions, Post-reading analysis and discussions.
  • Activities that expand the topic of the poem, comprehension and literacy.
  • Extension Activities promote more involved research and analysis and provide opportunity for advanced work.
  • Differentiation Options provide additional activities to investigate the issues of the poem.

Wiki Meerkat

Mr. Meerkat’s Poetry for Children

Mr. Meerkat’s Poetry for Children series is a literacy program which engages children through the use of poetry. With its rare Australian flavor, the pedagogical framework for the poetry reflects a constructivist approach to teaching and learning. It encourages students to actively engage with the content and to construct meaning by drawing connections with their own knowledge and experiences. The Mr. Meerkat’s Poetry for Children series contains 58 poems presented in 20 poetry readers for primary school aged children and is accompanied by teacher’s companions, online resources, recitals and interactive activities. The series was published by Reynold Learning in 2020 and is also available through the Renaissance Learning MyOn [1] site for literacy and reading resources. The poetry was created using the principles of ‘how children learn’ [2] drawn from Reynolds’ research and his article “A Study of the Effectiveness of Sensory Integration Therapy on Neuro-Physiological Development.[3] All lesson activities are based on the latest understandings of language development in children.

 Mr. Meerkat’s Poetry for Children
1. Overview
2. Emphasis on learning development
3. Ontological approach
4. Pedagogical approach
5. References

1. Overview

The Mr. Meerkat’s Poetry for Children series was written by Dr. Leonard Reynolds.[4] Prior to writing the Mr. Meerkat series, Leonard Reynolds spent a decade specializing in learning development and helping children with learning difficulties/disorders. In 2009, his program was recognized by the Cambridge-Oxford Universities Oxbridge Guide: Global Educational Skills – Guide to Excellence in Education as one of the top 200 innovative programs in the world. [5] The Mr. Meerkat poetry series arises from Reynolds’ research into improving the neuro-physiological capacity of children. The Mr. Meerkat name and image are Leonard Reynolds’ persona, created in order to present poetry in an attractive format for primary-school-aged children.

The 20 Readers in Mr. Meerkat series are divided into learning stages because the author believes that children’s learning is developmental and children are at different cognitive and physiological stages of learning. The progression of the Readers is designed to relate to children’s different abilities and perceptions of the world. The program caters for both the high and low performing groups in every class and accordingly, offers ‘just-right challenge’ opportunities for children in each learning stage. As the series progresses, more complex and age-appropriate issues are introduced for reflection.

2. Emphasis on learning development

The Mr. Meerkat series is based on the principles of neurological function and what Reynolds’ calls neuro-efficiency. Over a two year period, Reynolds surveyed the efficiency of the brain’s sensory integration process with a cohort of 62 children.

The premise for the study was that the brain processes and integrates information through its sensors[3], and is able to plan and organize behavior in order to make adaptive responses in the ongoing process of learning. The neuro-processing of sensory information of the children in the cohort was stimulated through the Reynolds’ therapy and education program. The progress of the students was assessed using recognized neurological[6][7] and sensory[8]standard tests, with exceptional results.

The Mr. Meerkat poetry was created using Reynolds’ findings that learning is a developmental process. “Learning is a neurological progressive process and a natural process: Children cannot help but learn. Information is received by the brain then interpreted and then integrated”, says Reynolds. “Children learn through a process of integrating and accumulating information. As something new is accepted, the brain releases a pleasure chemical, an endorphin, to encourage further learning.”[9]

The purpose of the Mr. Meerkat’s poetry is to stimulate this “learning-success process” through the reading of the poetry to promote literacy and have student’s wants to learn more.

Accordingly, the Mr. Meerkat poetry uses a number of sensory inputs – humor, rhythm, rhyme, melody, audio and visual, to create connections for neurological integration.

3. Ontological approach

The Mr. Meerkat poetry series takes an ontological approach to the construction of the poems. The poet seeks to express his perceptions, experiences and emotions in words that can be understood by children. He seeks to reach out to others with the desire of invoking a response and appreciation of his poetry. He purposely uses a process of expressing one’s soul (psyché) or being (ontos) to another person – a process known as ontology.[10]

4. Pedagogical approach

The lesson resources and learning activities in the series draw on a constructivist approach to teaching and learning that integrates with the ontological rationale behind the poems themselves. Students are encouraged to actively engage with poetry and reflect on the subject matter. They construct their own meanings by drawing connections with their existing knowledge and experiences, making the poems relevant to their own lives. [11]

5. References


2. How children learn

3.Reynolds, L. (2010). A Study of the Effectiveness of Sensory Integration Therapy on Neuro-Physiological Development. Reynold Learning. [Online] URL:

4. Dr. Leonard Reynolds

5. Guide to Excellence in Education• 4.

6. Beery, K. E., & Beery, N. A. (2006). The Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration (Beery VMI). USA: NCS Pearson.

7. Martin, N. A. (2006). Test of Visual Perceptual Skills: Third Edition. Novato, CA: Academic Therapy Publications.

8. Ayres, A. J. (1979). Sensory Integration and the Child. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.



11. Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority.(2010-2019).National Literacy Learning Progression [Online] URL:

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