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.


Posted by: Poems For Fun | July 26, 2015

Poetry frames available

Hello teachers,

This is to let you know that I’ve at last got all my 70 available poetry frames on display for browsing, and perhaps purchasing. You’ll find them on my overflow website, . The frames overflow, too, onto a second page.

About the poetry frames

I design and make my own poetry frames, so don’t expect a polished, professional look! But they have been tried and tested in primary schools across Wales and England with rewarding results, as confirmed by class teachers. Despite my wobbly illustrations and ruler use, they get kids enthused and busy, which is their aim. The designs are child-friendly, with illustrations and clear formats, some in idea-spurring shapes! Each one encourages one or more types of language or poetic technique, serving as springboards for more independent poetry writing. Some children rely on them to get them started, while others give them a glance and shoot off in their own direction, taking one or two of their elements. Either way, results have been stunning through the years. 

Further poetic techniques

When moving on to further aspects and types of poetry (such as metaphor, kenning, cinquain, rhyming couplet, limerick, recipe poem or haiku), I encourage independent writing, especially at key stage two, so you won’t find many sheets that cater for such developments.

You may like to add or delete the odd line to suit plans and pupils, or adapt the sheet to fit a different topic. I’m forever adapting my sheets to fit specific needs. That’s why I only have 70 to offer. The other 100+ are too messy!

Prices and ordering 

The A4, black and white, downloadable sheets are 25p each (min. payment 50p), with free guidance notes on a separate sheet. Needless to say, the watermark will be absent from your PDF copy!

I’m afraid I don’t have the computer skills to offer an automated ordering facility, but will email you your required sheets on receipt of payment, via PayPal or post, and, of course, your sheet order.

(PayPal payments should be to my email address:, but you’ll find instructions on the page anyway.) To post payment, please contact me for my address.

Book illustrations to buy 

I’m also offering a selection of my illustrations from my first book, Swinging through the Sky, Poems for Children, in case useful to anyone. Details are on my overflow site again, ‘Book Illustrations’ page.

Any questions or comments? Please contact me at any time.
Tel. 01446 760124


Posted by: Poems For Fun | July 24, 2015

Autumn Term Topics

Looking ahead to next term…

I’m sure no teacher wants to be thinking of next term already, but this is just for mulling over, or anyone super-organised who’s booking ahead of the new year rush.

Unleashing creativity

My workshops will be available as ever next term, with topic choices as below. I offer a specific selection so that I can prepare thoroughly and effectively for each one,  with varying content to cater for all ages and stages from Nursery to Year 6. The topics I offer are open-ended ones that lend themselves to free expression and creativity, while also being subjects that children can relate to.

Topic choices for Autumn Term 2015:

Autumn Leaves ~ Windy Day ~ Town ~
Fireworks ~ Winter Lights.

Topics per day

Preferably no more than one topic per morning/afternoon, please, and ideally one per day. They tend to merge into each other anyway!

Any questions or suggestions, please get in touch!

Happy holidays!



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