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  • Lynnea Elsasser

Sick by Shel Silverstein

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

When I was in elementary school, every year in my hometown we had an event called the Sandhills Music Festival. I won't go into much detail but I will say it was a big deal, and went on for almost a week. When I was young, I had always been entered into the festival under the piano category. I will admittedly say though, piano was not my forte. One year though, my mom entered my brother and I into the public speaking portion of the festival which then become an annual traditional. While I was not amazing at public speaking, I did way better in this than I ever did in piano. I don't remember what my first poem was, but I do remember I recited a lot of Shel Silverstein. Some of his poems were lost on me as a kid but now that I am older, I can really appreciate and enjoy his poems.

My early beginnings in public speaking has now, come back full circle. Currently, I am in my second year of teaching public speaking to students in a private elementary school. In my first year in the role, we were required to create or find speaking tests. During my searching on the internet, I came across an old friend, Sick by Shel Silverstein. This was one of the poems I had done as a child myself!

The premise of the poem is a little girl, Peggy Ann Mckay, like most children, does not want to go to school. So, she fakes being sick. Instead of though giving one symptoms or sickness, she gives a very long list of all of her ailments. As she goes on her though, her ailments become more and more outrageous and downright silly. Finally, at the end of the poem, Peggy Ann Mckay is told by the listener that today was no a school day but actually, Saturday! With that, all of Peggy Ann's ailments are gone and she goes out to play!

I have now had two sets of students use Sick for a public speaking test. It has honestly been a huge enjoyment for me to see them really get into the character and utilizes different gestures to really bring out the humour of the poem. I still have my students from last year see me in the hallway and quote to me certain portions of the poem.

Here is a (slightly) dramatic reading of Sick by Shel Silverstein voiced by myself. Please free to use it in your own classrooms:

Sick by Shel Silverstein (Dramatic Reading)


Sound Effects and Background Music Credit:

Back to Work Again by TeknoAXE |

Music promoted by

Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Bye, Bye Brain! by Alexander Nakarada |

Music promoted by

Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

illy Intro by Alexander Nakarada |

Music promoted by

Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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