Do you condone....?Is that coffee in that cup? Or something stronger?


Resources for teachers

Classroom Resources

If you have any resources, teaching materials, poetry books or teaching books to recommend, or any ideas you'd like to share with our visitors - as well as suggestions for ways to improve this resource - please send them to me.You, and your school, will be credited. All worksheets etc are photocopiable but, to protect the copyright, should only be used in your school. Authors hold individual copyrights.

Poetry Worksheets (Rather than printing these straight from the website, you will need to copy them - Save As or Cut and Paste - to your word-processing program where it should be easy for you to turn them into useable worksheets.)
Adjective Poem Animal Poem Bullies Christmas Poem Cut-up Poem Families Feelings(1) Feelings(2) Limericks Scary Poem

Wordsworth Poems (Literacy, Year 6) (From Caroline Davey)
Jabberwocky (From Miranda Smith)
Character Poems by James Carter
Improvising Free Verse To Music by James Carter
Tips for young writers by James Carter
Poetry Kit by Jan Dean Lots of great ideas!
Labels and Report Poems by Jan Dean
Similes and Metaphors by Duncan Jones

Using Similes and Metaphors to Create Strange Images
by Duncan Jones

I used a poem I wrote called Performance as the
starting point. I read it aloud with my class and we tried to identify the similies and metaphors. You could remove them all just to see how it would sound.


My heart was like a beating drum
A herd of buffalo in my tum'.
My head was banging, clanging, whanging.

Goose bumps like mole hills on my neck.
Doubt like a pterodactyl's peck.
My toes were twitching, itching, gritching.

I had to walk out on that stage.
Like one against a dragon's rage.
A sea of eyes all waiting, watching, watching.

Heart jumping like a kangaroo.
Would I remember what to do?
Then on..

It's as if I am
a little flea.
Staring right down
and watching me.
Then hearing cheering, cheering, cheering.

My chest is puffing out with pride
As if I've swallowed up Strathclyde
My head is grinning, spinning, zinging.

My mind is doing summersaults.
I am up as high as astronauts.
My eyes are gleaming, streaming, dreaming.

Then the children thought of other possible lines with
a similar meaning... heart feeling like a bouncy castle being a great example.
They then thought of a situation that made them
nervous, drew themself in the middle of the page and
labelled themselves using similes/ metaphors.
my head felt like a bowl of jelly

These labels then give rise to a list poem. Adding
rhyme, alliteration etc being optional.

Mrs Tarver's Teaching Hint
I use a poetry center as a reading skills tool in my classroom. My students have a "poetry book." A few activities I use are highlighting blends, long vowels, words with capital letters, etc. They also draw an illustration with each poem. The skills used weekly vary. I hope this is helpful for anyone who likes using poetry in the classroom!

Send us your teaching hints!

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Poetry Worksheets by Roger Stevens

There follow several worksheets designed to act as starting points for poetry writing as a classroom activity. They are fairly self-explanatory but you may like to expand on the ideas with your pupils before you begin. I have used them all at various times with classes that I have taught and have had some excellent results. Sometimes I start by writing a poem with the whole class before I give out the worksheets.



Walking to school. What if you met an animal and decided to take it with you. It could be something ordinary - like a dog (have you read Dog in the Playground by Alan Ahlberg?) or a cat, or something small and secretive, like a mouse, or a wasp or a spider, or something large and unlikely, such as an elephant...?

Elephant at School

I came across an elephant
On the way to school
His beak was very hot
And his flippers very cool
I hid him in my desk
So that teacher would not see
He stayed there very quietly
Until frightened by a bee

Now try changing some of my words with the words from the list below. Or change them for words of your own.

__________ at School

I came across a __________
On the way to school
His __________ was very _______
And his __________ was very _______
I hid him in my __________
So that teacher would not see
He stayed there very quietly
Until frightened by a __________

aardvark camel ant-eater sparrow hippo spider giant rat alien
monster dinosaur bright-blue pig
coat legs paws eyes trunk tail mouth tusks jaws teeth nose wings spiky smooth ugly pretty soft rough wobbly knobbly sharp pink black pointy flat wavy smart
pencil-case lunch-box pocket handbag purse shoe PE kit
noise bang squeak crash wasp bell whistle laugh

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How about writing a limerick? Edward Lear invented them* and they have five lines and they rhyme. The first line usually begins There was a young (or an old) man (or woman or boy or girl) of Somewhere. You then think of a rhyme for the place and that gives you the idea for the last line. No one knows who wrote these limericks.

There was a young lady of Tottenham
Who'd no manners or else she'd forgotten 'em
At tea at the vicar's
She tore off her knickers
Because, she explained, she felt 'ot in 'em

There was a young man of Bengal
Who was asked to a fancy dress ball
He murmured: I'll risk it
I'll go as a biscuit
But the dog ate him up in the hall

There was a strange dog from _______________
A man who was passing
Said, Excuse me for asking
But ____________________________________

There was a new teacher from________________
The Head came in
And said________________________

Now have a go at some of your own.

*actually someone else invented them but Edward Lear made them popular.

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School Bully


Is there a bully in your class or at your school ? Write a poem about bullying. Here are some questions to get you thinking.

1 Name of bully ( You might be thinking of someone in particular but it's probably best to make up a name, or the bully might get to hear about it. If you make up a name try and think of an appropriate one. Cedric or Daisy don't sound very frightening, do they?)


2 Who was the victim? Was it you? Again make up a name.


3 What did the bully do?__________________________________

4 How did the victim feel?_________________________________

5 Now write out what happened. Everyone likes to see a bully get his or her just desserts. What would you like to happen to the bully? Use your imagination. In a poem or story you don't have to say exactly what happened. As long as it feels right. Ask yourself lots of what if questions. What if the bully was found out by a teacher, by your mum, by the bully's mum or by a stranger who was passing.

Write this as very short story. Then write it in short lines so that it looks like a poem. This is one of those poems that doesn't have to rhyme.

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Scary Poem


Write down four things you are scared of.

1 ______________________________


3 ______________________________

4 ______________________________

Think of something that happened that scared you_______________


Were you ever scared late at night, or in bed? Have you ever had a scary dream? Is summer as scary as winter - or the autumn? Is there a scary room at school? What would happen if there was a ghost in the stockroom or your teacher's cupboard?

You'll need some scary words to use if you're going to write a poem to frighten people. A Thesaurus is a great way to find new words. Here are some good words to use. Do you know what they all mean?

dread terror panic shock horror hair on end cold sweat nervous cold feet unease disquiet anxious shaking creeps shivers goose flesh knocking knees afraid frozen as pale as... hair-raising terrible awful ghoulish nightmarish gruesome sinister grim grisly macabre flinch chilled grimace unearthly wail bloodcurdling

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Cut-up Poems

You can create brand new poems using a pair of scissors and a glue stick. Find an old magazine or colour supplement and cut out several lines of text from different articles. Then stick them on to a clean sheet of paper. The beauty of this is that you have no idea what the poem will turn out like until it's finished. You might end up with something weird or funny. It may even turn out to make sense and sound quite serious. It will certainly be an interesting poem.
This is a good way to make up nonsense poems. This poem was made from The Sunday Times Style magazine.

Hollywood stars today
go through life
furniture shops
worm charming
rolling pin throwing
snail racing
iron ball throwing
toe wrestling
sedan chair carrying
Don't wash, then sleep on
Strawberry and fresh smoked trout
for a week

Another way to use the cut-up technique is to start with a well known verse, such as a nursery rhyme, and then cut out words from a comic or magazine to stick on top. It's a good idea to type out the original first on a word processor and print it out. This poem is by Michael Leigh.

Wee Willie Winkie
Runs through the town
Upstairs and downstairs
In his three door hatchback

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Poems With Adjectives


Adjectives are describing words. If I say "Tom is playing with a red ball." then the word red describes the ball. Write a poem by repeating the first line but each time adding another adjective.

For example.
On my way to the zoo I saw a bear.
It was a brown bear.
It was an ugly brown bear
It was a wild, ugly, brown bear
It was an angry, wild, ugly, brown bear
It was a hungry, angry, wild, ugly, brown bear
It was an escaped, hungry, angry, wild, ugly, brown bear
And it wanted to eat me!

On my way to school I saw a ____________________

It was a _________________

It was a ____________________

It was a _______________________

It was a __________________________

It was a _____________________________

and it ____________________________________

Try to think of a funny last line. Try reading the poem out loud. You can make an even better poem by starting all the adjectives with the same letter! This is called alliteration. (Use a dictionary to help you find words.)
E.g. It was a big, bothersome, bouncy, beautiful, brown bear
and its name was Bartholomew.

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A poem about feelings


In the first space put the name of an animal. Then try and think what would make the animal have that feeling. What would make a dog happy?
The first line might be -
I'm as happy as a dog with a bone. But that would be a bit boring.
What would make a lizard happy? I'm as happy as a lizard with a hot rock to sit upon. Now you try :-

I'm as happy as a_______________with a________________

I'm as happy as a _______________in a __________________

I'm as lonely as a _______________in a __________________

I'm as sad as a _________________without its _____________

I'm as unhappy as a ______________that's lost its ___________

I'm as happy as a __________________________

I'm as sad as a ____________________________

I'm as lonely as a___________________________

Here are some animals to choose from :-

monkey snake lion cat elephant giraffe eagle leopard zebra donkey tiger duck grasshopper wasp ostrich camel tortoise pig butterfly cobra
horse fish whale squirrel dinosaur duck dragon chimpanzee donkey dog wolf cat koala bear hippo rhino sparrow turkey rat mouse squirrel antelope lizard dolphin slug snail frog cheetah shark

Now write it out as a poem.

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A poem about feelings


Think of things you have done that made you happy or sad. Then compare them with things that animals might have done.
For example -
When I won the egg and spoon race
I was as happy as a monkey eating a banana

When I___________________________________________

I was as happy as a_________________________________

When I___________________________________________

I was as sad as_____________________________________

When I ___________________________________________

I was as lonely as___________________________________

Here are some animals to help you.

monkey snake lion cat elephant giraffe eagle leopard zebra donkey tiger duck grasshopper wasp ostrich camel tortoise pig butterfly cobra horse fish whale squirrel dinosaur duck dragon chimpanzee donkey dog wolf cat koala bear hippo rhino sparrow turkey rat mouse squirrel antelope
lizard dolphin slug snail frog cheetah shark

Now write it out as a poem

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Animal Families

Name ........................................................................

If the people in your family were animals, what animals would they be? Would your brother be a monkey? Would your mum be a beautiful gazelle or a cuddly Koala bear? Choose animals that remind you of your family. You have to give reasons! Just saying your brother is like a monkey is not good enough.

My mum is like a________________________

because she___________________________

My________________ is like a _____________________


My_________________ is like a _____________________


My_________________is like a ______________________


Family members -
Dad Step-dad Uncle Auntie Cousin Nephew Niece
Grandad Grandma brother sister

Animals -
monkey snake lion cat elephant giraffe eagle leopard zebra donkey tiger duck grasshopper wasp ostrich camel tortoise pig butterfly cobra
horse fish whale squirrel dinosaur duck dragon chimpanzee donkey dog wolf cat koala bear hippo rhino sparrow turkey rat mouse squirrel antelope lizard dolphin slug snail frog cheetah shark

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A recipe for Christmas


In this poem try to think of all the things that make Christmas special. Then imagine you a baking a Christmas cake and all those special things are the ingredients. For example :-

A cup of joy to make Christmas happy

A cup of________________to make Christmas__________________

A packet of ________________ to make it _____________________

A jug full of__________________to make it ____________________

A spoonful of_________________ to make it ___________________

Stir with a ____________________________________

Bake in the oven for _____________________________

Serve it to _____________________________________

Words to help.
music love happiness joy good cheer giving friends friendship laughter
tinsel warmth peace peaceful family help carols TV presents lights

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Wordsworth Poems by Caroline Davey

Literacy Year 6 (10 - 11 yrs)

Learning objective: to analyse how messages, moods, feelings and attitudes are conveyed in poetry. To look closely at imagery, using the poem below as a model.

Resource: "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge September 3rd.1802"
By William Wordsworth.

Read the poem highlighting all the aspects that the poet liked.
Think of a place that you find beautiful or know well and use lines from the poem as a model to describe it, e.g.
This wood now like a garment wears
The beauty of the sunset, golden, fair.
Trees, branches, leaves……………


Composed Standing over the Blue Mountain Lookout.
March 10th 2000

by Nikita Le Sauvage and Chloe Bush.

This place now doth like a garment wear,
I look from this point, these Blue Mountains.
This is a calm, serene place
All is quiet and clear, the other islands are visible.
This beautiful place.
Opens unto sea, rocks and the town.
Ne'er did the sun more beautifully sleep over this point.
Morning is breaking but still all is soundless,
Except for the distant horn of a huge ferry.
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so gentle,
The sea swishes at its own sweet will.

Composed on the Beach.
March 10th. 2000

by Pieter Robinson

This beach now as clean as ever before.
The beauty of it in the evening.
Sunset: silent, clear, ripples beautifully cool and refreshing.
The kiosk and the tall tower make the perfect scenery.
The grand stunning dim of the sunset.
The golden sand, hot, comfortable, dry.
The little light which is left in the sky makes the beach dream like.
It is splendid to watch
It lights up your whole body with pleasantness.
It makes you realise how lucky you are with such beaches
The best place on our little Island.

This translation of Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll was sent to the Poetry Zone by Miranda Smith. Read the original to your class. Then discuss the unusual words in the poem. Many are portmanteau words - where two meanings are packed into one word. For example - "Slithy" means lithe and slimy. Some words are made up. Your class, perhaps working in pairs, could try and translate the poem into modern English - or create a poem of their own using portmanteau words.

Draggerwocky by Kelly (aged 10)

It was bright twilight, and the slimy toads
Did shine and tingle in the lakes
All springy were the old oak trees
And the tree leaves drifted down

"Beware the Draggerwock my son!
The jaws that bite the claws that clash!
Beware the Jaybird, my son!
The furious Snatcherman!"

He took his piercing sword in hand
Long time the enemy he sought...
So rested he by the old oak tree
And stood a while in thought.

And as in amazement he stood and thought
The Draggerwock with eyes of flame,
Came galloping through the magical wood
And murmured as it came!

One! Two! One! Two! And through and through
The piercing blade went through and back
He left it dead and with its head
He went galloping back

"And hast thou killed the Draggerwock
Come to my arms my brilliant boy!
O fabulous day lets say hooray"
He chortled in his joy.

It was bright twilight and the slimy toads
Did shine and tingle in the lakes,
All springy were the old oak trees
And the tree leaves drifted down.
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Character poems by James Carter

IMAGINE THIS: "You are sitting on a train. You have a long journey ahead of you. To your delight you have managed to find a double seat. Just as the train pulls away, somebody takes your spare seat. You're annoyed. But your annoyance soon fades when you discover a few minutes into your journey that the person sitting next to you seems most upset."
THINK: Who is this person that is sitting next to you? Why is s/he upset? How would you describe him/her? Brainstorm as many things as you can about that person. Draw the person if you wish.
THEN: Write a poem in the voice of this person about a secret that they have kept for a long time.

Improvising Free Verse To Music by James Carter

Teacher-led activity. Pick two instrumental pieces of music that last about 3 - 4 minutes. Find two pieces that are wholly different in terms of style, mood, pace and instrumentation. Film scores are often useful for this kind of activity.

Before you play the piece, instruct the pupils to listen to the music very carefully and to find what images the music paints in the mind's eye. As soon as they have that first image they are to improvise an unstructured piece of free verse. If possible, they should write non-stop for the duration of each piece, writing as many ideas and descriptions of that image - or series of images - as they can. Some students may even choose to doodle or draw the images. You might choose to play each piece of music twice. The unstructured pieces can then be developed further.

It would be beneficial to examine a few free verse poems beforehand to remind the pupils of this particular form.

Both activities from Creating Writers - a creative writing manual for schools by James Carter (Routledge, Autumn 2000). Includes writing tips from Jacqueline Wilson, Philip Pullman, Malorie Blackman, Roger McGough and Terry Deary
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Tips for young writers by James Carter

Keep a notebook at home. Put all kinds of stuff in it - ideas, poems, doodles, thoughts, memories, little stories. Try and write something in it every day. Don't show it to other people - just keep it as your private writing place.

If you want ideas for poems, find somewhere quiet and daydream for a while. See what ideas come to you. If nothing comes, why not try writing something that begins "I wish..." "I remember..."
"When I was..." "100 years ago... " "Once when..."

Sometimes you can start to write a poem before the idea is ready to be written out. So it's good just to think and ponder over your idea first. With a bit of luck, other ideas will come along too.

Once you've written a new poem and you feel you can't do any more to improve it, leave it for a while - say a week or so. Then come back to it fresh and see what needs to be done next.

In your first draft, don't worry about spellings or handwriting or punctuation, just get your ideas down. You can sort out all the spellings etc. later on.

Computers are very useful when writing poetry - especially shape poems. I couldn't have done my Electric Guitars poem without my PC. Except for shape poems,

it's best if you can write your poems first by hand and then later put them on the computer. Computers can make poems look too good too soon.

Where do ideas come from? Two places - a)our memories and b) our imagination. Think of something that has happened to you and change it around so that it

becomes a fiction. Use it in a poem.

Poetry Kit - by Jan Dean

Choosing a mismatch of style and subject can produce startling poems.
If you are making something from a kit you expect precise instructions.
If you are reading a love story you expect soppy descriptions.
If you mix these two thing up you get unexpected and surprising writing!

Find some instructions - look in science books/craft books/ cookery books.
Look in detail at the sort of words they use and the way they set the words out.

Then start to mess around with these ideas. Use the same sort of words and layout, but choose a completely different subject.
Eg. Write instructions on:
how to cuddle a pet
a recipe for a nightmare
a scientific test for a best friend.

You could even write an instruction book love poem....

1) Find partner
Be sure that they are not too spotty.
(People who smell nice are probably best.)

2) Stand close (unless you have very l o n g lips)

3) Squeeze your lips into a pucker.
It is important to get the pressure right.
Too tight will make you kiss like knotted string
Too loose and you'll be worse than Aunty Mary.

4) Adore.

5) Look into each other's eyes
Take care! Give yourself some distance
Or you'll be snogging with a cyclops
Or sighing with a snogclops...

6) One further word of warning.
You could seriously come to grief
If both of you wear braces on your teeth.

Why not try the same sort of thing with holding hands or dancing a slow dance?

Write instructions on how to make a cup of tea as if it were brain surgery/ a love story/commentary on a race, football match or golf tournament?

Write a weather forecast in the style of a James Bond movie/ detective story.

Describe making a sandwich as if it were a building project.

Write instructions for mending a puncture in the style of a thriller/ passionate romance.
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Labels and Report Poems by Jan Dean

Write a zoo cage label/how to look after your pet, for a member of your family/piece of furniture/. You can also do this for a mood
eg. Fill in the blanks on this warning notice on the zoo cage of a tantrum

Tantrum (Terribilus Temperus)
This creature lives in................
It comes out..............................
And often..................................
It is the colour of.......................
And eats....................................
Notice how it..............................
It has a most distinctive cry,
Do not.........................................

Write a police-style incident report on a birthday party.

Write a school-type report on how well your Mum gets you out of bed in the morning.

Please send us your brilliant ideas for teaching poetry

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