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.

Posted by: Poems For Fun | April 27, 2016

Poetry-teaching tips – Guardian online

For teachers:

If you’re wondering how to help your less confident writers discover the joys of poetry-crafting, I have some tried-and-tested tactics to offer on The Guardian‘s online Teacher Network page, this week.

There’s no single, one-and-only way to get reluctant or hesitant children writing poetry, of course, but I find this general approach effective for those around KS2.

I’m taking bookings now for the summer months, with theme choices: Creepy Crawlies, Seaside/Ocean and Rain Forest.

Kate

Email: katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com

Posted by: Poems For Fun | April 13, 2016

Summer Term Poetry

Just a note to say bookings are coming in for the summer months, so grab your preferred date before it goes, if interested in a workshop visit!

My topic choices this term are: 

Creepy Crawlies, Rain Forest and Seaside/Ocean.

All are adapted to suit the different year groups from Nursery to Year 7, with boundless scope for creative fun and linguistic venturing. 

Poetry-writing activities vary, and may include writing inside pictures of scenes or creatures, or on treasure maps, or over waves or through undergrowth. Some sessions involve recipe poems, others similes, metaphors, kennings, sounds or movements – or all rolled together! Sometimes my ukulele comes in handy for building rhyming couplets or word banks, and now and again there’s an opportunity for popping outside for inspiration or reading-out time. 

While working loosely to a prepared structure, I find every session an adventure, and the children seem to, too.

Kate 

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

Posted by: Poems For Fun | March 28, 2016

Summer topic choices – schools

Easter greetings, teachers and head teachers! 

Summer is a wonderful time for poetry sessions: you can take them outside, and bring the essence back in, or if that’s not possible, at least drink the season in at the window! 

My theme choices for the term will be:

Seaside and/or Ocean, Rain Forest/Jungle, and Creepy Crawlies. 

With the sea theme, I focus on beach and seaside with KS1, with extra choices of Stormy Sea, Sea Monsters and Under the Sea for Juniors. Of course, with double sessions or more, we can move and develop the focus at all levels, and may end up with a crazy treasure map or a fascinating recipe for the sea. But no two sessions are the same, so every one is an adventure – for me as well as the children.

With Rain Forest or Jungle, we’ll focus chiefly on sensory ideas: colours, sounds, feelings, smells (pleasant and less so) and perhaps – for the brave – tastes! Let me know whether you’re studying jungles – as opposed to rain forests – so I can include some jungle animals; otherwise, I’ll try and avoid them, to save confusion.

Younger children will be writing their poems over tangly, twiny illustrations, and along a snake too, time permitting; older ones may like to re-write their completed poems in shapes and settings of their own.

Creepy crawlies offer something for everyone: they can be fun, fascinating, beautiful, spooky and more. If you were an insect, what sort would you be – or shall we let the children decide? As for their outdoor settings – they’ll open more doors again for creativity!

Younger children can write ON their chosen ‘mini-beasts’, while older writers may have too much to say about a ladybird to fit it on its back as it sails through the (who knows what?) sky or crawls through the …?  A haiku might just fit, though, or a re-write over page-wide artwork later.

But we won’t just be writing, or even wandering outside -we’ll be enacting, miming, sounding, impersonating, throwing words and ideas into the air, building images, making up rhymes with the help of a ukulele, and performing and sharing the hour’s creations.

I never tire of running poetry workshops, because children and poetry together are so rewarding!

To book or enquire, please contact me either by phone – 01446 760124, or email: katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com .

Kate
April 2016

Posted by: Poems For Fun | January 13, 2016

Spring Term is Swinging!

Daylight is returning, spring bulbs are stirring, and poetry is in the air! It’s in the classrooms, too, and yesterday it was buzzing round the hall of Long Meadow Primary School in Milton Keynes, where able young poets from all around inspired me with their bright, fresh creativity. Well done to all, by the way!

Up and down the UK, schools are planning writing sessions with poets and authors to celebrate World Book Day, and in Wales, St David’s Day, as well as their own special book weeks, poetry terms and other exciting events. Writers can be found via online agencies, such as Authors Abroad, and from The Poetry Society’s list of recommended writers for schools, available on enquiry, or just down the grape vine from other schools, parents and friends. Every writer offers something a bit different from the rest, so take a look at their visit details as you browse.

My own workshops are theme-based, and this term I’m offering: Space, Dragons, Under the Sea, Spring (after half term), and Feelings (KS2 only).  We go straight into the theme with chat, pictures, sounds and gestures, building ideas for language, imagery and poem-crafting as we go, so that the writing stage falls naturally into place and pens flow with zest and confidence. I present a suggested starting point and format, with illustrated, open-ended frames available (at least for younger classes). As children write, I offer one-to-one spurs and reassurance  as needed, while encouraging individual expression and experimentation. Everyone reads out – or sings, if preferred, as sometimes happens – and performances can be developed with a focus on presentation, if required.

Children love poetry because it’s free and open, yet small and neat, and because you can play with it! Possibilities will spring up when you least expect, like spring itself after winter, and once you discover that magic, you can keep it in your pocket for life!

Kate 
Email: katewilliams.poetry@gmail.com

Posted by: Poems For Fun | December 23, 2015

Winter Lights poems by Yr 7/8 pupils

Here is a link to some fabulous poems produced by Year 7 and Year 8 pupils at Pencoed Comprehensive School, Bridgend, S. Wales, in my recent workshops there.

More to be displayed on the page soon. 

Congratulations to competition winners and runners-up, and to all the pupils who attended the sessions! Impossible decisions had to be made in limited time, on work produced in even more limited time! 

Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year to all,

Kate

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