Posted by: Poems For Fun | February 13, 2015

World Book Day poetry fun!

Hello schools!

Let’s celebrate World Book Day (WBD) by inspiring our next generation of writers! 

No doubt you’re booked up for WBD (March 2nd) and I am too – all week in fact – but children need inspiring every day! So what better than a thrilling, hilarious, mysterious dazzle of dragon poetry to sweep away the February gloom? Or later, to fire a flash of fantasy through the elf-green treetops of later March? 

Children have been setting their classrooms buzzing in my dragon workshops this term, with adjectives and similes, metaphors and ‘moving words’, onomatopoeias, rhythms, rhymes, alliteration – poetry galore. The funny thing is, they don’t realise it’s work. Give them a double lesson, and they want more!

We’ve had dragons cartwheeling over the moon and dancing down the M4. We’ve had dragon menus with ‘Teachers on Toast’ (sorry), ‘Candyfloss Curry’, ‘School Hall Stew’ and ‘Magic and Mash’. We’ve felt the rush of a gust (yes, their words) from a beating wing, spied the glint of an eye, smelt a strange whiff of smoke, felt a thumping tail on the classroom roof, heard shrieks resounding round the sky. We’ve talked and sung and acted out dragons of different colours: ones in red who stay all day in bed; others in pink, who wash their tails in the sink; and naughty dragons dressed in blue, who like to creep up and shout out ‘Boo!’ But some are invisible, camouflaged or see-through, and remain for ever a mystery. Children have conjured up every conceivable dragon character too: creepy and crafty, jolly and fun, gentle and timid, bossy, grumpy, wild and mad, and the brave and bold, protecting us with their fire and armour. 

Of course I throw ideas at the children, but they throw more back at me – ideas I’d never think of! They bounce ideas off each other too, with frequent sharing opportunities, so the whirlwind of images, language and poetry invariably spins round the classroom or hall in all directions, building, lifting, heating up, sizzling… till the bells goes for lunch – boo!

Responses from teachers and children confirm that whirlwind’s worth – as do the poems produced.

I offer various other topics too (see previous post or Workshops page), also exciting, fun and open-ended for maximum creativity and poetic venture. 

Happy spring!

Kate
Email: katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com

Posted by: Poems For Fun | January 5, 2015

Poetry Workshops for Spring

Greetings, teachers and head teachers! 

Dragons, Castles, Weather (of all kinds) and School Sounds are my theme choices this term, together with Spring Woods after half term, with poetry workshops on offer for children aged 3 – 13. 

With the help of picture displays, hands-on artefacts, class discussion, word-building challenges, acting-out, and – for younger children – clapping rhymes and songs with ukulele, I provide workshops for children at all ability and confidence levels. I work in primary and secondary schools, referral units, nurseries, libraries, and anywhere else you may wish to suggest. 

I’m happy to travel just about anywhere from my home in S. Wales, covering a huge area to date, including London, the South and South West, the Midlands and Manchester. 

With 8.30 a.m. as my arrival time, my day’s timetable is flexible to fit with yours – provided I can grab a breather mid-morning and ditto lunchtime for survival purposes!  I find four sessions per day works well, with any extra time to be allotted as you see fit.

Please see Workshops page (no link – please click on relevant page) for further details and latest feedback from schools. You may also like to browse the Children’s Poetry (click relevant page) or follow the links to other examples and photos on school websites.

Any questions? Please get in touch!

All best for the term ahead!

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

Posted by: Poems For Fun | January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!


Best wishes to all for a happy New Year:
a fresh and inviting, new writing New Year!

Ignore the recession, and winter depression!
The music of words is still here.

Whatever the hiccups and hassles and hurdles,
the stresses and losses and sorrows and burdens -
whatever the tangles and wretches and wrangles,
poetry won’t disappear.

That, in a way, is what I shall say 
to the kids in my workshops this year.

Kate

Posted by: Poems For Fun | December 24, 2014

Christmas wishes

Season’s greetings, and thanks for visiting my site!

May your Christmas be:

comfy and cosy,
merry and rosy;
munchy, crunchy,
dreamy and dozy!

Brimful of cheer
and all that’s dear:
bright as the lighted tree!

Oh, serene as snow pristine
may your Christmas be!

And may a genie clear and clean,
and serve your cup of tea!

Kate Williams

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!

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

Happy Christmas!

Kate
Email: katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com

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:

fireflies,
fishes’ eyes
gold and silver crowns,
bracelets,
amulets,
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 

Kate Williams
Children’s poet and workshop leader for schools
Email: katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com

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.

 

daddylonglegspiderattlesnakelfoxgloveelizardeadly-nightshadeye-of-leopardewdropoisonousberrieshadowizardiamondgiantoadstooladybirdragonettle-
stingoblinewtiger’sclawormaggotoadaddylonglegs…


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!

Kate

Email: katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com
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


Kate Williams
Children’s poet and workshop leader for schools

Email: katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com
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 @ https://poemsforfun.wordpress.com/workshops/
Kate Williams
Children’s poet & Workshop Leader

katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com

@Katypoet

 

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)

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