Posted by: Poems For Fun | November 30, 2017

Spring Term Topics

Flying Carpets will feature in my spring term topic choices, along with Dragons, Space and Spring. Children can fly with any of these – not just the flying carpets, venturing wherever their ideas lead them. 

Dragons are forever popular, and on Wales’s St David’s Day (March 1st), you can almost feel the hot breath of the Welsh Dragon in the celebrations, making spring an ideal time for fiery and mysterious dragon poetry. 

It may be hard to believe that spring is round the corner, but by half term, there’ll be plenty of signs showing, which we can celebrate in lively, colourful poems. If it’s raining, no problem – the drizzle and mud can feature alongside hatching eggs and opening buds.

Space is wide open as a topic as well as an entity: we can shoot about wherever we like in the boundless void, discovering any sort of planets and creatures we happen to dream up, which makes for wonderfully imaginative poetry. With younger children, I focus in on stars and aliens, and you’d be amazed how much there is to say, sing and write about stars alone. 

As for flying carpets, they can go anywhere, of course – through any skies in any weather at any speed and in any style, with whatever fascinating view below that the individual writer sees in their mind’s eye. 

There’ll be scope for humour as well as atmosphere and action, and where time permits, we’ll be clapping and singing rhyming couplets, as we invent them – even in the top classes. Music and language have many meeting and merging points, which I like to bring out in my sessions, along with opportunities for drama and artwork. Children take what they want from the many different angles of a session, to express their ideas in their ways. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next term!

Kate
Email: katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com

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Posted by: Poems For Fun | September 4, 2017

New Term, New Creations

Poetry workshops for autumn

I’m excited to be preparing for the fresh, new school year, and in particular, for this crisp, atmospheric season. Every term and season brings new inspiration for poetry writing, and you can’t beat autumn, with its fiery trees and fascinating leaves, its Halloween shadows and Guy Fawkes Night dazzles, with the buzz of activity after the summer lull ricocheting through. No wonder autumn was chosen as the season for National Poetry Day!  (28th September this year.)

I’m taking bookings for poetry days through this term and beyond, so if you’d like to arrange a day or ask any questions, please get in touch any time. (Email best for me in the first instance.) While based in S. Wales, I’m happy to  travel to London, Dorset, Birmingham, Manchester and counties in between. I’ll be sending out my usual update flyers within the next 2 weeks, but if your school doesn’t receive one and would like one, please let me know.

Wishing you all a happy term,

Kate
Email: Katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com

 

 

 

Posted by: Poems For Fun | July 6, 2017

Themes for Dreams

This term (summer), I offered a range of themes for my workshops, as usual, but every school chose the same one – Sea and Sand. And no wonder! It’s a wonderful theme – fun, beautiful and refreshing for a hot day, and relevant to the many children will be heading off to the seaside this summer, some with their schools. I welcomed their choice, too, having a particular fascination with the theme. But on my school visits, we didn’t just focus on the obvious – lovely blue sea and soft, golden sand. Not just those.

In schools as far apart as Devon, Wiltshire and the Rhondda Valleys, on sunny days and dull ones, the children were happy to squelch, barefoot (in their imagination, at least) in gooey mud, and to slide on smelly seaweed and battle with stinging sandstorms and treacherous waves.  In fact, some of them relished the mucky and the monstrous most of all! I remember one boy’s warm-up  sea-words sheet being littered with words like ‘treacherous’, ‘merciless’ and ‘dark’ within seconds of picking up his pencil.  As for ‘blue’, we found, on looking at photos and thinking back through past experiences, that the sea was seldom just blue. Children reported sightings of candlelight golden sunset seas, blood-red horizons and black night-time harbours, speckled with reflected lights, not to mention all the bluish shades to be found within that famous baby-blue – turquoise, indigo, silver and frothy white. They told me of extraordinary flora and fauna they’d spotted and strange mixes of deep and shallow, freezing and warm, and spooky caves their brave parents had steered them around in boats of different kinds.

I’m sorry to say, they told of sandy sandwiches, drizzle and drifting sunhats. There were alarming stories, too, of how they’d sand-buried their siblings, who, I’m glad to say, had miraculously escaped alive. So, what with pirates, ship wrecks, mermaids and sea monsters, and all the funny rhymes they thought up on the last, there was seldom time to do it all justice, meaning for some keen kids, that they had to hurry home to get all the rest written down!

I’m not sure how aware the children were of the creative talents and ingenuity they revealed, but I was, every time.

Sea and Sand made a great theme, but the others on my list, like Creepy-Crawlies and Sun and Storm, would have been equally versatile and captivating, once we started looking around and above and below, and zooming in and out. A theme is what you make of it, and with a few assorted approaches and plenty of individual freedom, children can create marvels out of just about anything you throw at them, with the help of their own dreams, experiences and gifts.

Next term, I’ll be offering Migrating Birds as one of my themes, another personal favourite, re-ignited today by a fascinating radio programme, Bird Migration, in Melvyn Bragg’s series ‘In Our Time’, Radio 4.

Other themes will include perennial school favourites of the season, Autumn Leaves and Fireworks.

Meanwhile, the summer holidays are in sight – and even here for a few of you. Time for real sea and sand!

Kate
Email: katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com

Posted by: Poems For Fun | April 18, 2017

Creativity is a must for kids

Children need opportunities to be creative. With the arts as their tools, they can share their fast-growing wealth of thoughts, feelings and experiences, consolidating their learning in the process. Yet, teachers tell me, there’s little room for creativity in today’s curriculum. However often I hear this, it’s always shocks me, though I can see it for myself in the details of that curriculum.

Besides the curricular pressures that our government-run schools face, there are the budgetary ones, of course. Many schools struggle to afford the artistic enrichments one would hope for in a child’s education, such as theatre trips, music-making, new books and author visits. And to compound these constraints, there seems to be precious little time in the day for anything as intangible as dreaming, wondering or exploring. What with daily assemblies, constant pupil testing, the teaching of “British values” and all the other demands on the timetable, there’s little time over for creative freedom. But we must find means and ways, or our children will simply bottle everything up until they burst or wilt, and miss out on that vital aspect of their education. Thanks to the determination and ingenuity of teachers, some opportunities are still – somehow – found but, as they tell me themselves, they are never enough.

Whatever the result of June’s general election and the outcome for education, let’s hope that, together, we can keep those opportunities open for messy, immeasurable, marvellous creativity, and keep pushing for more. It’s a “must-have” for our kids.

Kate

Posted by: Poems For Fun | January 22, 2017

Poetry-writing does wonders

When children sit down to write a poem, they face many challenges.

They have to think what, exactly, they want to say, how they want to start, what words to use, how to arrange them, how to fit them into a few lines, how to make the piece look and sound like a poem (rather than a story, account or list, for instance), and how to end it.

They will probably have extra requirements to accommodate too, such as a literary technique or poetic style – or several. Then, on top of all that – or crumpled up underneath, perhaps, they’ll find adventure beckoning, with irresistible flashing lights and glimpses of thrilling panoramas, and with an arrow facing down some other, twisty, foggy route. But they only have limited time to write, and putting pen to paper in any shape or form can be difficult, especially if your pencil is broken or the child next to you is reading their poem  out loud as they write, or you can’t spell that brilliant opening word you’ve suddenly hit on.

If writing their poem for me, in one of my workshops, the children will probably be asked (or encouraged) to read out some of it afterwards, standing up in front of the class with the other children on their table – yet another challenge  for  them, though no one has to read, of course!

While few children will opt for creative writing as their future career – let alone poetry, the achievement of writing their poem will help them in other areas of development. Everything  from the physical act of writing to the requisite leap of imagination will impact on their learning and confidence, as will the experience of presenting their individual creation to an audience.

Having said that, most children seem to love crafting poems, despite all the hurdles involved. I wish I’d had more opportunities for poetry-writing at school, many decades ago; perhaps that’s why I’m so passionate about helping to open doors to this sky-wide, verse-small genre for today’s youngsters.

Kate
(Email: katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Poems For Fun | November 21, 2016

Children ‘get’ poetry

Children learn about all sorts of facts and figures through the national curriculum. Then they come to one of my poetry sessions where there are no facts or figures, and fly – no problem. They don’t pester me with ifs or buts; they don’t giggle behind their hands or stare at me as if I’m mad when I refer to a tempest as a monster in a mood or autumn leaves as daredevils or acrobats, or car lights as diamonds and rubies. They don’t even complain that they’ve never seen a stormy sea, or that we’re discussing autumn leaves a month early or late, or that they’ve never seen a diamond or ruby. They get the gist and buy the game. With the help of a few photos, a brief chat and maybe a glimpse out of the window, they’ve grasped the rules without me having to explain or justify anything, and are ready – keen, even – to play along. That’s one of the reasons I love working with children: they seem to have an instinctive poetic sense which they can just click into, never mind the choc-a-bloc timetable of subject slots around this one, and all their different demands. 

The other day, in a 40 minute session with a Yr 2 class, mostly acting out ideas, we squeezed in a few minutes of writing at the end, where children were encouraged to jot down describing words for fireworks. But one little boy decided to go further, with: “Fireworks are kings of the night”. I wished I’d been able to think of such a line – such a metaphor, indeed, not that he knew what a metaphor was or realised he’d produced one, of course. But I’m used to being blown over by the stunning poetry of young children. For instance, I’ve learnt to expect that every so often a child will decide to sing their poem, rather than read it, and I don’t just mean young children, nor just girls, but big, strapping, football-crazy boys too. I also know that no one will snigger or even feel inclined to in this game. Sometimes a child will write their poem in an intricate and beautiful shape, without us discussing shape poems at all, or they’ll write loud words in big letters and quiet words in tiny ones, unprompted, even in the lowest year groups. As for all those techniques and devices children have to learn at different key stages – most children employ them all naturally anyway – just like the boy with his ‘kings’. 

I’m used to being staggered by children’s responses, yet the surprise is a different one every time. At reading-out stage in a session last week, for instance, one boy served up his poem as a drama, complete with a bow at the end, after sitting quiet and deadpan with his pen and paper. He seemed to have soaked up every scrap of input from our shared thoughts on fireworks, spun them all into a fireball and shot it up past a plethora of planets into outer space – no wonder he wanted to enact it!

Do we become less daring as we get older? Do we get the game mixed up with the curriculum and entrench ourselves in techniques and terms and thesauruses for the rest of our lives? Or does that sixth sense live on in us somewhere? I hope it will in these youngsters at least.

Kate

Kate Williams
Email: katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com
Twitter: @katypoet

Posted by: Poems For Fun | October 29, 2016

Sparkling similes for winter

Welcome back, teachers! How about some sparkly poetry fun to brighten up your wintry classrooms? 

Once children start dreaming up imagery for an exciting poem, winter gloom disappears and glittering possibilities take over. Ideas ricochet off the walls, are caught, twisted and sent whizzing again, from mind to mind, and by writing time there’s so much to say, it has to be filtered and crafted to get it into the poem you want – an absorbing challenge for writers of all levels. Reading out, in groups, out at the front, is exciting, but not scary because I’m there to help, as are the other children and their teacher (you), and it feels good to stretch legs and look down the classroom from the front for a change – and that round of applause afterwards feels pretty good too!

My topic choices for November and December are: Fireworks, Woodland Creatures, Winter Colours and My Street (daytime for KS1/2, or lit up at night for KS2 upwards). One topic per day, please. 

Dates for next term are going fast. Early booking recommended.

Kate

Email: katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com
Tel. 01446 760124

Posted by: Poems For Fun | September 8, 2016

Workshops for winter

Hello schools, 

Apologies for the impersonal, round-robin flyer you’ve probably received from me again, and glad my method hasn’t put you off following the links. My workshops, by contrast, encourage personal expression, and I try to give each child in a group individual support and sharing opportunities.

The new academic year always arrives with a tingle, which can be felt in everything from the sharp autumn air to the spruced-up classrooms – and in our poetry sessions, too! Refreshed from their long summer break, children arrive back at school hungry to share their latest experiences, discoveries and thoughts, as you’ll know, and poetry offers an ideal medium to receive them. Youngsters are also fired-up at this stage to build, craft, produce, perform, and do everything else that creativity involves. Again, what could serve that thirst for creativity better than poetry, with its limitless scope in all directions?  No wonder I’m so excited about this term’s poetry sessions!

My themes – autumn leaves and trees, streets (busy ones; night ones…), castles (ditto), and fireworks – each offer a balance of focus and open-ended potential. They also sizzle with opportunities for crafting and enriching, inviting action, colour, atmosphere, drama, humour and – well, the list is endless!

If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact me at any time to discuss. Meanwhile, have a good term!

Kate

Email: katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com
Tel. 01446 760124

Posted by: Poems For Fun | August 2, 2016

Poetry Workshops for Autumn…

If you’re a teacher, you should be clocking out and making your escape now, rather than thinking ahead to next term! But as you’re here, I’ll provide a few details about the poetry sessions I’ll be offering this autumn. 

My theme choices will be: 

Streets – with their bustle and noises by day and, for Juniors, their lights and changed looks by night. We’ll be thinking up and acting out all sorts of characters, vehicles, animals and other features of a busy street, with a bagful of toy items to spur ideas. Every child will bring their own experiences to the discussion, building a wealth of ideas to write about. As night falls and the lights come on, a street can take on a very different appearance. Its curve of street lights might look like a necklace or something stranger; the cats’ eyes down the road might look like – well, cats’ eyes? Or tiger, puma, dragon eyes, perhaps –  or not eyes at all, but diamonds, secret signs, drops of magic… 

Castles – inside and out, with their contrasts of grand battlements and creepy corners. We’ll be meeting their inhabitants too, from kings and queens to rats and mice, and possibly a strange, white glimmer in the moonlight… Castles can be pink and pretty or grey and formidable – it’s up to the child. We can go back in time and join in the life and drama of Medieval times, or feel our way through the eerie, eloquent ruins – or both. A classroom can transform itself into a castle in a flash when you’re creeping round the tables and climbing imaginary stairs!

Leaves and trees – I offer these every autumn, and here’s why: they deserve it! Every year those flimsy, flappy little leaves turn into flames, treasure, acrobats, daredevils, golden darts and… what else? (The children will know.) Then they fly off, who knows where? Over the school? The city? The ocean, to a far off country? Why not guess, dream, fly with a leaf to find out, or be a leaf yourself? As for the trees themselves, roaring, whispering, shaking their heads in the wild autumn wind, what do they have to say about it all? We go outside to watch and listen to the trees first, then examine leaves close up, feeling, sniffing, spinning and catching them, and swapping notes on their exotic hues, and the ideas they inspire. Then out flow the poems!

Fireworks – this theme is great for burning off energy, as we act out different firework types. Their sounds are fun to imitate too, and fascinating to consider in detail, with their fizz, pop, bang, whoosh, crackle, zip variety. As for the colours and patterns of fireworks, they light up the imagination, and the page, as children explore ways of describing their impact in the dark, wintry sky. On ground level, there are hot dogs, toffee apples and warm clothes to consider. Infants will be starting off by dressing up ready to go out, then shining a torch and warming up by an imaginary bonfire, and possibly hearing an owl…

Timetable:

I can fit my sessions to your timetable to fill the day, with the following recommended timings:

Nursery – 25 mins.
Infants – 60 mins. max.
Either the full hour, with writing, or half-hour input, leaving follow-on sheets.
Juniors – 75 mins. (or double session with breather in the middle.) 

Class sizes:

Infants – one class at a time, up to 30 ish.
Juniors – either one class at a time, or two together. 

Any questions? Please contact me any time to discuss.

Kate

Email: katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com
Tel. 01446 760124

Posted by: Poems For Fun | June 8, 2016

Clear skies for creativity

End of year creativity and hooray for high summer!

Summer offers an abundance, not only of flowers and produce, but also of creative potential, not least through poetry. With exams over, and requisite boxes ticked, the last weeks of the school year offer a golden opportunity for creative fun with language. 

Outdoor inspiration

For a start, the school grounds can come into their own. I use them in my summer workshops as inspiration-boosters and performance enhancers, but they can also be used in relation to all the other subjects, of course, even if just for an outdoor discussion, with the stimuli of fresh air, open sky, graceful birds and busy insects.

Summer’s influence in the classroom

But even back in the classroom, the summer can be seen, heard and smelt through the open windows, and summery findings can be brought back in to enhance the atmosphere of the room. For my ‘Creepy Crawlies’ poetry, for instance, I bring in tall, golden grasses, petals and leaves. With my ‘Seaside’ theme, I bring in as much of the scene as possible – assorted shells, toy fish, boats and creatures, bucket and spade, chest full of treasure, and enough photographs of seaside and deep, mysterious ocean to fill the whiteboard. 

A theme to dream with

However long and tiring the school year, children always have energy left for free expression on a theme that excites them. They may not be sure how to start, point blank – who would be? But with a meaningful class input, where they can share ideas and be helped towards more, and the option of a simple, fun-looking sheet to start them off, they’ll head off wherever their imaginations lead them. 

Seasonal spells

Summer, with its vibrancy, serenity and variety, can cast a spell over poetry-writing. Actually, any season can if you let it. A murky January gloom can reveal a wealth of thought-provoking aspects, just as summer can, if you’re prepared to wrap up and step out to find it – or at least peer through the misted window and reflect on the morning’s lamp-lit scurry to school. But summer brings that extra sense of freedom and possibility.

Inspiration goes full circle in our poetry sessions. First, I present to the children my own excitement, curiosity, delight and amusement generated by our theme; but immediately, the  tables start turning as they inspire me with their responses! As for the lines they write and the visions they produce – I know from experience that they’ll sweep me up and away, but there’s never any guessing where or how, or who will contribute what to the creative explosion. That’s the wonder of young minds for you!

Kate

For poetry workshop bookings, please email: Katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com

Theme choices for June & July:
Creepy Crawlies, Seaside or Rainforest.

Themes for the Autumn Term will include:
Autumn Leaves, Wild Woods and Fireworks.

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