Posted by: Poems For Fun | December 11, 2014

After School Poetry

December 2014 - thinking back over a term of after-school poetry…

I’ve just finished a term of after school poetry clubs at two schools: what exceptional fun we had!  

Yes, it was work: we were poetry-writing, but no, it was play: it was after school. It was free time: magic time.

Poetry for sheer fun was our purpose: poetry without pressure – a sort of weekly poetry party, if you like. There was no pressure, yet the children came back for more each week – voluntarily, of course – and for more paper usually too! Some club members would follow the approach of the week – whatever the style or focus I chose to introduce; others would go off at a tangent. Some poems turned into pictures, others into stories, or letters home, or dialogues with friends around the table.  ‘Alyssa has written nearly all of this’ one child confessed at the bottom of her sheet one time. Fine: they had shared the ideas, and the comradeship too: had made writing a shared entertainment.

Some of my young writers told me they ‘hated literacy’, and even wrote that they hated it, seemingly not connecting, which was interesting.  After all, our sessions were far more than straight poetry: they involved singing with guitar or ukulele – whichever I’d snatched up as I left home – and acting out the subjects of our weekly writing themes; it involved passing round pictures, toys and any relevant artefacts I’d been able to dig up. But most importantly, it involved chat, me with them, and them with each other. With a fresh topic each week – dragons, planets, noises, colours, castles, fireworks, Christmas –  there was never a shortage of discussion-points, nor of exciting language and imagery to explore together.

All that in 40 minutes? Well, it was a jam-packed 40 minutes, and, I admit, chaotic at times – especially when I mislaid my poetry frame sheets in my search for a board rubber or vice versa, but the odd bump along our roller-coaster ride through worlds and words just seemed to blend in naturally, as the children would probably agree. One thing is certain: their poetry took off – sailed far and high – in those little windows of time. Well done to them all!

Incidentally, it was pleasing to see how the children’s writing developed through the term, not just from the 40-minute club sessions, but from their daily school work, of course. It’s true that I like to think our short, relaxed sessions played a part, and if they did, a crucial part of that little slot, I believe, was probably the reading out routine we’d squeeze in at the end, when they could hear the sound of their own creation, and observe the response of their school friends.

One or two were a little anxious about reading out at first – out at the front in a line, table by table, and I don’t blame them!  But a tube of blow-bubbles soon blew away the stage fright, and soon became part of the procedure at each school. Grabbing bubble-blower in one hand and sheet in the other, and with the snap decision as to whether to blow before or after reading, reading out quickly became a key point of the afternoon, and a hilarious one too, more often than not… though I didn’t laugh quite as much as they did when the bubbles ended up in my face!

A few samples of the children’s rich harvest of poetry can be found on the Children’s Poetry page. Please note that most were at the lower end of the 2-6 year range. 

Happy Christmas!


Posted by: Poems For Fun | November 14, 2014

Winter Workshops

Winter lights and colours are featuring in my end-of-term workshops for schools, and fascinating we’re all finding them to be!

The darker the days, the brighter our streets glow, of course. On my able writers’ day at Burstow Primary School (Surrey) this week, for instance, we found ourselves gazing at the lit-up squares of office block windows, peering down at the looping ribbons and necklaces of street lights below, watching the winking traffic lights, squinting along the chart-like lines of cats’ eyes stretching out in all directions, and glimpsing the faint flickerings of lanterns along the pavements. The more we gazed, or imagined we gazed, the more we spotted… and we spotted something else too: our town was turning into other things, like in my poem, ‘My Town at Night’.

My Town at Night

At night
my town turns into other things:

fishes’ eyes
gold and silver crowns,
a wizard’s glinting gown,
the moonlit threads of spiders’ webs
stretched across the ground…

but next day
it’s always just the same old town.

(Published in The School Magazine, NSW, Australia.)

But of course their towns turned into other things again!

It was fun to bring my little candle and its pretty, slatted holder onto the scene. (Don’t gasp: the candle was safely protected, and well out of harm and children’s way!) What with the tinsel and Christmas baubles I’d draped over the flip chart, and the night-city photos strewn over the whiteboard, we almost forgot about our afternoon break! 

The theme made a cheery – yet fascinating! – antidote to our earlier wanders through the twitching twilight woods (or at least, the creaking desks and tilting chairs and falling fluffy toy animals in the darkened (yes, again!) classroom). 

Some people moan about winter, but I relish the promise of its glints and whispers and quivers! I relish the poems it generates, too! 


Kate Williams
Children’s poet and workshop leader for schools

Posted by: Poems For Fun | October 29, 2014

Published poems for Halloween

Time to dig out some of my more spooky/sparky published poems.

Sounds in the Wind

I can hear in the wind

a wandering werewolf,
howling, hunting, haunting,

a jumbling giant,
barging, bashing, breaking,

a bruising bully,
pinching, punching, pushing,

a vicious vampire,
teasing, taunting, torturing,

a merciless monster,
smashing, slashing, storming.

I can hear the clouds being swept away
like mud from a clear, blue lake.

Published in The Works 5, Macmillan, 2006.


Wicked Winter Tree

Beware the Wicked Winter Tree
when it twists its twilight spell:
when it tangles itself into witches’ hair,
black and bleak as a bottomless well,
and scrapes the sunset bare.

Watch out for the Wicked Winter Tree
when it sweeps up the evening sky,
for who can tell what sneaky spell
may linger there, in its witches’ hair,
waiting for a passer-by?

Published in Moondust and Mystery, Oxford University Press, 2002.


This next one is a bit naughty! I wouldn’t encourage children in my workshops to write such unkind spells! Really, though, it’s poking fun at the silly spell-chanter.

Swapping Spell

Windswept cliff and creepy cave,
Make my uncle be my slave!
Make him serve me, meek and grave,
While I shout and rant and rave!

Spider black and cobra blue,
Make my aunt my servant too!
Make her serve me good and true,
While I tell her what to do!

Published in The Prime Minister is 10 Today, Macmillan, 2003.


(From) The Trees Behind the Teachers’ Cars
( a quartet of seasonal rhymes published together)

Autumn Term

Behind the cars the trees have turned to treasure -
red as rubies, gold as gold bars.

If Sir was a pirate
he’d be cramming his boot with booty,
except that it’s really just leaves, of course,
gone bizarre.

Published in Read Me at School, Macmillan, 2009.


The next is presented in the book as an oval shape, like a necklace,
so please try to imagine it that way! You can start at any point. Answer at bottom of page.

Witches’ Chant
Find the jewel that ends the chant.



Published in The Trying Flapeze, Oxford University Press, 2004.


This next poem is based on alleged sightings of a ghost in the wonderful Llanover Hall Arts Centre, Cardiff. The ghost is said to be that of the Lady of Llanover, who once lived there.

The Lurking Lady of Llanover

Have you ever seen a ghost
at Cardiff’s Llanover Hall?
On your way to ‘Drama’, perhaps, or Pottery?
No? Not at all?
Or have you, maybe, felt her most,
blowing a gale while the air stands still,
cold as the windswept West Wales coast?
Some have.

Have you never felt her chill,
like a shudder across your face?
Or seen her standing, tall and still,
clothed in silk and snow-white lace?
Some have done.

Some have felt her in the passageway,
freezing the paintings on display,
or seen her in an empty room,
looming in the twilight gloom,
here at Llanover Hall.

But though she lurks so cool and tall,
she never spoils our fun.

Published in Fire to a Cold World, book two, Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC),
date not given.


WARNING: you need a strong stomach for this last one. 
It’s only tenuously connected with Halloween too, in that ghosts could follow, if customers fail to read the crossed out words.

Sweeny Todd’s Death Hair Salon

How would you like to be the deadest smartest Victorian man in town?
Treat yourself to a quick death shampoo!
Have your life beard shortened!
Have your throat hair cut!

Let that stupid head lanky hair drop through to the floor!
Fall down walk out through the trap front door a dead new man!

Let yourself be totally transformed 
into a juicy meat pie man of the world!
Shock surprise your friends on at the dinner table  -
delight them with your brand new flavour image!
Not even your own family will recognise you!

So, for a close shave – or worse more – come straight inside.
Your mass murderer Family Barber, Sweeny Todd, is waiting to meat meet you!

Published in Hysterical Historical Poems, The Victorians, Macmillan, 2000.
Poems chosen by poet Brian Moses


The jewel that ends my Witches’ Chant is diamond’. The next word, ‘giant’, begins with a different letter, rather than being linked by a shared one.

All poems on this page are by, and copyright of, Kate Williams.

To republish any of the poems, or to book a workshop, or to ask a question, please get in touch! Contact details below.

Happy Halloween and wintry times!


Phone: 01446 760124.

(PS: Having some trouble getting website to accept my layout requirements, so apologies for the crammed up, irregular look.)

Posted by: Poems For Fun | October 20, 2014

From music to poetry

“Would you like to read out your poem?” I asked a little girl in my after-school poetry club last week. 

“Yes!” she said. But she didn’t.  She sang it. 

True, we’d started the session with a little word-building song, muttered and mumbled along to a couple of twangy chords on my ukulele, but that was half an hour before and I, for one, had forgotten about it. But she hadn’t; nor had the rest of the class, as I soon discovered. One after another, they all sang their poems, each child extending or varying the original tune to fit their lines, styles and messages. One child was a little unsure or perhaps self-conscious, so I clapped along in support, inviting others to join in – not that I expected them to: most were absorbed in decorating their work by this stage; besides, these were children from different classes and year groups through the school, some of whom barely knew each other. But I misjudged them: pencils fell, chairs swung round and everybody clapped, loud and strong – and so we carried on.

We all know something about the power of music in focusing young minds and spurring creativity, but it’s all too easy to forget about that when it comes to the crunch. There’ll be deadlines to meet, boxes to tick, work sheets to be completed… and a tune to be conjured up on top of all that, and plenty more hurdles behind that lot, no doubt. For some of us, the sheer challenge of singing in front of a class may wipe out the very thought. In fact, the embarrassment factor held me back for a while, when I first started toying with the idea of incorporating music into my poetry workshops, so I started off in cowardly fashion by limiting the experiment to the youngest classes. Bringing my battered old guitar into a Reception class one day, I took the plunge with a quavering little song in front of 30 children and – worse still – their teacher. But as soon as I saw their wide, fixed, button-bright eyes (the children’s – I didn’t look at the teacher), and sensed the growing rock and sway of the group, my embarrassment faded; by the end, I realised that music was essential to what I was trying to do, and that that was all that mattered. Now, over a decade on, I sing with whatever I have to hand – guitar, ukulele, tambourine, hand-clap, foot-stamp, pencil-tap on table edge, or with nothing at all to accompany my thin, wobbly notes – except a little prancing about, maybe. What’s more, I’ll sing to any class of any age group, if it helps the poetry to pour.

Children respond to music in any form, including those hidden in the sounds and rhythms of language, and even if we don’t bring it in, they will. Youngsters of all ages, and all categorised writing levels, will weave the lilt and swing and pattern of melody into their poems instinctively, and catch it in those they hear.  The more I discover of this magical innate skill in our youngsters, the more I realise the need for us adults to let go of our ‘teaching’ drive and stand back to make room for it. They may not always seem to be listening to you, but they’ll be listening to something, as I find every time when I listen to them.

Mind you, I may need to cover my ears when it comes to next month’s firework poetry!


Kate Williams
Children’s poet and workshop leader for schools

Tel. 01446 760124

Posted by: Poems For Fun | October 1, 2014

Spooks + sparks for classroom poetry!

‘Rabbits and hares!’ some of us say on the first day of a new month. ‘White rabbits!’ say others. But in classrooms around the country we’ll be saying ‘Foxes, stoats, owls, hoots, squeaks, twitches, shudders…!’  We’ll be opening the doors and windows too, to watch and listen to the secret world of trees and woods and skies. We may need a bit of classroom space too, because we’ll be acting out those furtive prowls and peeps and leaps in our Wild Wood workshops, and spinning our pumpkin-orange, tiger-gold, … ?-bronze leaves from ceiling to floor, in our Autumn Leaves sessions.

As Halloween creeps up on us, we’ll be stirring up the odd – very odd! – woodland recipe too! We may even throw in a fistful of spells – no cruel ones though… unless cruel to homework perhaps. I’m afraid this one is a favourite:

Dawn, dusk, night and day,
Let my homework go away!

plus this development:

Gold, silver, scarlet, black –                            (or other colours, of course!)
And make sure it never comes back!

We’ll be snatching at those early fireworks too, whisking their shrieks, bangs, whizzes and pops into our bubbling cauldron – perhaps even a hint of hot-dog! As for that darkening sky, it won’t just be blue or grey or black: it might be smoke-blue, wolf-grey, witch-black, or murky, mysterious indigo (apart from the glints of eyes and flashes of tail-tips, and the sweeps and swoops of departing swallows, perhaps).  Or is there a fabulous sunset, in fact?

But these are just my own dreamings. The children in my workshops will have their own, of course.  The only thing I can be sure of is that, as ever, the classrooms will buzz and pencils hum as those amazing young imaginations fly, and I’ll be in for a poetry treat every time!

My topics for the rest of term are Autumn Leaves, Wild/Winter Woods, Fireworks, Giants (which have already taken some of us to the most mind-boggling and hilarious of situations!) and Christmas Colours for the end of term. All are exciting, fun and full of creative potential.

Details @
Kate Williams
Children’s poet & Workshop Leader



Posted by: Poems For Fun | September 12, 2014

Latest published poem

Can you hear the treetops?

Can you hear the voices – the voices of the trees?
Can you hear them singing to the gentle summer breeze?

Can you hear them laughing?
Can you hear them sigh?
Can you hear them whispering their secrets to the sky?

I can hear them playing, as they swing and sway.
I can hear their voices, but I can’t hear what they say.

Kate Williams

Published in The School Magazine, October 2014 issue, by New South Wales Education & Communities, Australia.

(Copyright: Kate Williams)

Posted by: Poems For Fun | September 3, 2014

Poetry workshops for autumn!

Suddenly, the globe has slipped round; we’ve turned the corner into autumn! There’s a crispness to the sunshine, a brassy tint to the trees, and a brisk, bustling sense of purpose as the school run starts up again.   At last I can get cracking with my autumn term workshops! 

Autumn Leaves have sailed onto my topic list again, and why not? They’re such fascinating things, with their sky-high dances, fly-away mysteries, their golden dazzle, and their frailty, their under-foot crunch! Children and teachers alike love this workshop theme – especially when the rain holds off and we can all go outside to watch, listen and catch them!

Birds are on my list too. What birds? All birds! Swifts and swallows cruising off over moonlit oceans, over city, jungle, desert, to sunny lands we can only imagine; peacocks parading their sea-blue, sail-tall tails; penguins standing, just standing, heads up in the blizzard, feet slide-sliding on the ice… oops, splash, oh dear! Robins I’ll be watching too, with the younger children, and copying them too – hopping, flapping, pecking, fluttering about the garden, and thinking up describing words to sing with ukulele. As for feathers, they’ll call for another poem again – a shape, simile, metaphor poem? Or a float-away fantasy? Or a picture-poem bonanza of plumage hues? I expect every class will fly their feathers a different way!

Giants are my third and final topic for this half of the term, but not just noisy, fierce ones! There’ll be gentle ones too, like the BFG, guardian giants, lonely ones, clumsy, accident-prone ones, girl and boy, old and young, heavy and light giants – whatever sorts the children want to write about. We’ll be comparing giants with other things too, and other things with them. Could a mountain be considered as a giant, for instance, watching over us, casting its light and shadow over our homes and streets, affecting us with its daily mood swings? And what about a sunset, or a thunderstorm, or a symphony? But we’ll have fun with our giants too – especially when they thump-crash-smash their way in through the classroom door!

After half term, when the leaves take on the colours of treasure, wine and pumpkin-juice, our leaves will be drifting down into spooky woods, rustling with furtive wildlife (and Halloween haunts?), while fireworks shoot and roar over the treetops in the deepening sky and cosy lamps light up the windows. 

With so much to write about, the children won’t want to stop, but then, they seldom do! A few may start off a little anxiously, perhaps, thinking that poetry is not for them or that they can’t write very well… but what they’ll discover, as they go along, is that it IS for them, in fact, it’s IN them, and… oh yes, they can write, even if they have to translate a bit for me! I’m forever amazed at the natural feel, leaning, gift, children have for creativity through language, so let’s see what they offer up this term!


Posted by: Poems For Fun | August 8, 2014

Battles with bindweed

Phew! That’s this evening’s watering circuit done! Mind you, most of it landed on the weeds and brambles and the various multiplying monster plants I’m sure I never knowingly planted, that are swiftly taking over my garden. As for the bindweed – it’s a total bind: the few shrub successes I have in my garden are bound up so tight with the merciless stuff that their style is seriously cramped. But then, they’re dying of drought anyway, so what’s the odds? 

Yes, global warming seems to be here at last, doesn’t it?  Just when we were all starting to get to grips with global cooling – unless there’s more of that round the corner – there’s just no knowing any more. But yes, suddenly we’re swamped with excess produce: we’re overrun with beans, stuffed with strawberries, crushed with the weight of ever-rising mounds of courgettes, bogged down in bucketfuls of blackcurrants, and turning green with lettuce consumption… and when we manage to hoist ourselves up and peer over the top of the heap, we find our lawns need mowing again – what’s left of them.

As for my gardening poetry entertainments – I’m having to revamp them – and fast. All the usual old stuff about barren, boggy borders with no sign of life except slugs, is seemingly out of date. Just when I thought I had my little show all under wraps, I’m having to whisk up a whole new whirl of rhymes to fit this shock-wave of weird new gardening conundrums. Still, I don’t think I’ll go so far as to chuck the old ones in the bin: not until or unless next spring produces a Wordsworthian host of daffodils across my patch – and the patch is still a patch, and not a lake. 

Meanwhile, I’m sticking one or two of my new, garden-glut-focused rhymes on my Grim Side of Gardening page here, as I go, for any gardeners who may like a browse between watering duties – or any non-gardeners, of course, or half-hearted strugglers like me. Any topic suggestions welcome, by the way!

Keep calm and carry on cutting, collecting, cooking, consuming…



Posted by: Poems For Fun | July 8, 2014

Wild Workshops for Wild Times


If you’re a teacher, this post may be of interest to you; and perhaps even if you’re not! It’s about my plans for next term’s poetry workshops, which I provide for children of all abilities, aged 3 – 13.

Wonders, real and imaginary, will shape my workshops next term, with birds, leaves and giants over our heads! 

The sky is far from the limit! Fired-up by a term’s thrilling poetry workshops with schools across the UK on all things from ocean mysteries to jungle jitters to jewel-bright dragonflies in eye-blue skies, I’m now looking ahead to next term!  My eccentric art teacher of decades ago advised me and my fellow A’ level pupils to look at the sky as we walked to school – a risky thing to do, perhaps accounting for some of the falls she suffered, but an inspired one nevertheless. I’ve looked upwards ever since, in fact, when safe to do so, and never looked back – as it were.  The ever-shifting lights and tints, patterns and shapes, moods, times, weathers, and travellers of our sky form a backdrop to much of my writing and many of my workshops, and I can hardly wait to see how children bring its magic into their bird, leaf and giant poems next term!  After half term they’ll be enthralling me with their skies for fireworks and winter woods too, no doubt, with the fancy-free flashes of imagination that only kids can kindle! 

‘Birds’ as a theme for poetry:  wonderful, but ‘where to start?’ is the question. We’ll be on the look out for big and small, local and far-off, cloud-high and lake-low, common and exotic. We’ll be celebrating the beauties of a peacock’s tail, and trying to put a finger on the floatiness of a robin’s feather; we’ll be chatting to cheeky parrots and chuckling at gormless penguins, and we’ll be remembering, as we go, the worlds around these birds of such differing feathers.

But what can you get kids write about leaves? you may ask. But the question I’d ask is ‘how stop them writing about them, once you’ve got them started?’ After all, if their leaf has taken off on a world tour, they naturally want to see it safely home again, or at least follow it to its sad/absurd/fascinating/spooky/hilarious end. Especially when they can send their leaf poems sailing round the page and even onto others (Sellotape provided!). Nor do young writers like to leave a sweep of leaves hanging in mid-air, or a recipe for their colours stuck at the wide open ‘Leave to set [where?]…’ stage. As for the delicacy of that leaf just rescued from the playground at the start of the session – its fragile, ephemeral, lacy beauty – a child may be hungrier for a phrase to fit than for their waiting dinner! It happens, often to the surprise of teachers. Able young writers may be encouraged to think further still, and find ways in which an autumn leaf could reflect the season, time, end and renewal, and more.

Giants in a poetry workshop? Well, that depends if they can squeeze in, or if we can expand our poems enough to accommodate them. We’ll need to allow, of course, not only for their XL, multiply-multiplied sizes, but also for their amplified sounds and vibrations, and the mind-boggling repercussions of their – oops! – movements. Not that giants need be scary, nor even clumsy. We’ll be inviting gentle ones into our poems too: calming, reassuring, even graceful giants – gods and goddesses perhaps, or hints of. In older year groups, we’ll be looking at other big things too, like the sea, the wind, the weather, space, time… and asking if they could be thought of as giants.

Poetic adventures: as ever, we’ll be probing the possibilities of language, rhythm, rhyme, and word-arrangement on the page – and off it too, through music and acting out, for instance. Imagery and rich description will feature in each session, with delves into a range of poetic forms and techniques, especially at higher levels.  I’m not a teacher, and do not, in fact, believe that poetry-writing can be ‘taught’. Rather, it can be triggered, fired, guided, helped along, launched and set on course, through the opening of doors and lighting of paths, with armfuls of encouragement and sparkler-swirls of celebration along the way, and this approach will, as always, be my aim.  

Door-openers: picture displays, artefacts, support poems and anecdotes all contribute, in my workshop intros, towards enthusing my writing groups and spurring their creative potential. Inter-class chat, whole-group physical activities (mime, sounding-out, imitation) and brain-storming challenges all add in too, along with – for younger children – a word-building song with ukulele and a clapping rhyme or two. Yes, poetry-writing through fun, fascination and excitement is my aim! I suppose I must be a ‘big kid’, because I love it all myself, and enthusiasm is catching!

For more information, please see my Workshops page, or contact me direct @ / Tel. 01446 760124.


Posted by: Poems For Fun | July 2, 2014

Publication news


Between my workshops, I’ve been scribbling away as ever –  in the garden, at the kitchen sink, between poetry sessions in  school halls and classrooms, at the motorway service station on the way home, anywhere and everywhere, with various outcomes in the pipeline. 

A book of my poems, for 5-8 year-olds, entitled Poetry Party, is to be published next year by Thynks Publications.

Meanwhile, I shall be contributing to an international children’s poetry collection about food and where it all comes from, for Canadian anthologist Carol-Ann Hoyte.

My poem ‘Summer’s day sea’ is to feature in a future issue of The School Magazine, Australia. It goes like this:


Summer’s day sea

The sea’s so twinkly and flashy!
So silky and calm and blue!
So frilly and swilly and splashy!
So clear we can see right through!

So wish we could stay in all day,
just lolling about in the spray!
Oh, to stay the whole holiday,
and the whole of next term too!

‘Moth in the Bathroom’, mentioned previously, has been published in their July issue.

You can read it here:

Details of my recently published poems can be found @

and also at:

But now to prepare for my last school workshops of the term – my final summer plunges into the refreshing, rolling waves of childhood imagination and creativity! Many thanks to all schools involved, and congratulations to all the children I’ve worked with this term so far!

But I can hardly wait for the next school year to start now, and to get cracking with my new autumn themes: sailing leaves, soaring swallows, thundering giants, dark-defying fireworks, and more!

Any comments or questions? Please email me @ .


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