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!


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…


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.


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!


For poetry workshop bookings, please email:

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.



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.


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: .

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!


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,


Posted by: Poems For Fun | October 27, 2015

Fireworks, winter lights & poetic explosions!

After a fascinating forage through the language of autumn leaves with young writers this month, I can’t wait to see what poetic treasures will emerge from my Fireworks and Winter Lights themes! In fact, I’ve already caught some thrilling glimpses through my latest workshops, where whirling leaves caught the light of lampposts and car lights, and spun into foggy skies like firework sparks. 

We delved into the theme of winter lights, and how they seem to turn our towns into other things, at Headington Prep School, Oxford, on National Poetry Day. You can see a selection of their poems from the day here. Year 7 writers at Ysgol Bro Edern, Cardiff, also set the air buzzing with their mind-stretching metaphors on the theme on the eve of half term – and would they stop writing at the end of that Friday afternoon? No, I’m afraid I had to nag them! Hoping to receive some of their poetic gems to display on my site soon.

Fireworks, like autumn leaves, are boundless in their poetic potential. What with their sounds, colours, movements, shapes and patterns, not to mention the starry void (or miserable downpour?) through which they fly and fade, or the merry crowds below, peering up through fog, smoke and darkness, there’s no shortage of inspirational starting points! Besides, children will have other starting points of their own, not touched on in that list. No mind is the same, as poetry demonstrates.

As for winter lights – well, they twist and meld with my firework theme, of course, and vice versa, but lights can be so many other things too: cats’ eyes – real and road-type, or the necklaces of streetlights above; stained glass windows, lit from within; the glint of a candle in a window; the glare of a search light in your face… But what do those glows and glints and glares represent? Just buildings and traffic? Anything but! And just how dark are the shadows, and how stark the winter trees in the moonlight? Don’t worry, though! We’ll be gazing at Christmas trees and fairy lights too, and celebrating the warm, cosy colours of Christmas.

Yes, November and December offer up creative possibilities galore, and I’ll be venturing through them with children aged 3 to 13 in schools across England and Wales. If you or your school are interested, please get in touch! 

Tel. 01446 760124

Posted by: Poems For Fun | August 21, 2015

Autumn leaf poetry

One of my theme choices for this term is autumn leaves. I offer it every year. Here’s why. 

I never tire of autumn leaves, and the children I work with don’t seem to either, even after a double session! Their poems never fail to thrill me either. There is just so much to explore, dream and do with this theme! 

For a start, they represent the season, and the life-death-life cycle of nature, all in a nutshell. Even within an hour’s session we can see our freshly gathered leaf bundles change from crisp and bright to limp and dull. Their fragility can be felt in the palm of our hands and heard in the crunch of our shoes.  Then there’s the range of gorgeous colours to investigate – hues as exotic as mulberry, copper, flame and lime. Nor can we ignore their plethora of shapes and symmetries, and the wreckage of blotches, crumples and rips! They’ll take us down other routes again.

Their fall from the tree offers yet another fascinating talking-point, especially after we’ve been outside to watch them and sent some flying ourselves. How do they fall? In a spinning spiral? A meandering waltz?  Or do they soar upwards, in fact, and race away over the rooftops? Then where? How far can a fantasy leaf fly? Over an ocean, jungle, desert, galaxy? Or just into Mr Jones-next- door’s left trouser leg, hanging from the washing line? And what is a leaf, apart from a leaf? Is it a sky-diver, a wind-surfer, a warning of winter, a wand, acrobat, dancer, fish in a sea of autumn air? Or a sliver of gold? (Treasure-gold? Medal-, crown-, sunset-gold?)

And what does a leaf ride on? Just the murky, misty air? Or something else, unseen? A promise, hope, dream, or the turning world itself?

A leaf,
gold as treasure,
sailed for pleasure
on a billowing pillow of air…

Yes, there’s room for rhyme too!

But how does the abandoned, balding tree feel? Bereft? Or has it actually cast off its leaves as a Halloween trick and turned itself into a wizened old wizard in the process?

The creative potential of leaf poems is infinite. In my poetry sessions, we just fly with them for an hour or so, and see where they take us in that time.

Nor does the whirl of potential fizzle out there. When it comes to presentation, the theme opens more doors again. Their whispering, hushing, rushing sounds can be reflected in physical movements, sounds, song, or accompanying music, for instance; their sweeps and swerves can be portrayed through curved lines of text as well as pictures; their textures, through collage or ‘brass-rubbing’, and their colours through crayons, paints, inks, chalks, fabrics, mosaics – any colouring resource.  Words can be written on a leaf or round it, or one letter per leaf, forming a necklace, arch or cascade. As for the leaves themselves, they can be drawn from imagination, copied or traced, or printed perhaps.

But where can the finished works be presented? Round the classroom, down from the hall ceiling in a curtain of strips? (Put a fan behind them and they’ll quiver!) But don’t worry about all that. The children will have some ideas up their sleeves: they always do.


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