The Nature Activity Book: 99 Ideas for Activity in the Natural World of Aotearoa New Zealand Rachel Haydon, illustrated Pippa Keel, Te Papa Press, 2020
This stunning activity book inspired me to set a number of nature poetry challenges for you last month. I invited you to take your time writing a poem and to explore nature. I invited you to listen and look, but also gave you a chance to use your imagination.
I got sent hundreds of poems so it has taken me a long time to reply to you all, and it was an exceptionally hard job choosing just a few to post here. I loved reading your poems and I can tell you loved writing them.
I especially loved the way you went outside and you listened and looked. What a terrific time the students at Russley School, Nova Montessori School and Churton Park School had slowing down in the world to look and listen.
I loved the way some words stayed with me all day: my favourite word ‘frizzle’ in Myla‘s poem. I loved the detail William found for his beast. I loved the way Phoebe structured her cloud poem. I loved the way Esme ended her poem with a pencil scribbling!
Sometimes I loved a poem but it needed a bit of fact checking – when you make up a beast you can let your imagination go flying, but other nature poems might need a bit of research.
I have picked these young poets to send a copy of the book to – thanks to the publisher Te Papa Press: Fēlim (Nova Montesorri School), Blake (Russley School), Luke and Kate (Churton Park School) and Sophia (Westmere School).
I loved all the poems so much – I am always sad that I can’t post them all because you made my heart glow reading them. What fabulous young writers you are!
It took me so long to do this, and you are still on holiday, so I am going to post my next poetry challenge on November 1st – and I am very EXCITED about it! I will have books to give away. But between now and then I will post book reviews and might have secret popUP challenges with giveaway books.
I ended this post with a fabulous poem by Daniel – who reminded me to stop and look at things I so often miss (as lots of these poems do.
Happy poem days!
When I hold grass
It makes my hand tingle.
A piece of sand is littler
Than a grain of rice.
A blade of grass is so small it reminds me of a stick insect.
Fēlim R, Age 9, Year 5, Nova Montessori School
The eight legged dallion, with a body as grey as rain clouds,
And fur as scruffed up as leaves on a tree,
And teeth as sharp as a knife,
And ears as round as semicircles,
Trampling through the forest.
His paws shaking the ground,
Leaves fluttering down as fast as heavy rain.
The beast mimicking it’s prey.
Max D, 7 years old, Year 3 Ilam School
I am the wind
I can blow your sandcastle down
I make the flag slither
like a snake
I can get your kite stuck
in a tree
I can make your hair go crazy
I can flip the pages of your book
I make sailboats bolt across the sea
In autumn, I make leaf tornadoes
I sound like a stampede of elephants
I also sound like the waves
at the beach
I am a brachiosaurus burp
I am a peregrine falcon diving
but I can also be gentle
like a mouse
by Blake W | Year 3 | age 7 yrs, Russley School
I see all the twigs and stones blow around in the wind.
The twigs all have a similar shape and pattern on them.
When I pick up the stick I can feel the rust on the outside.
I see an ant walk over veins that are in the ground with dust blowing on it.
The color of the veins are brown with a little bit of orange in the inside.
I see the grass go everywhere in random directions on the ground.
When I pick up a piece of grass I feel the softness on the outside.
The color of the grass is bright green with a shadow.
Luke, Room 2, Churton Park School
The airplane rumbles in the distance
like a teenager crunching into piles of pringles
Grass sways in the wind
like an old man waving at his best friend
Silky clouds reflect off my shirt
like big blobs of paint beaming at me
Dead tickley shade leaves sunbathe
under the burning hot sun
By Sam L | age 8 | Year 4, Russley School
Twig nest crumbling
Greenfinch with ivory beak
Soaring through the sky
Lonely gray stone not moving an inch
What is that yellow flower?
Fingertips skimming over the hopscotch
A white candyfloss palace
and whipped cream
floating round the sky
I listen to the Beach Boys booming from the hall
this is the best place ever
James DW, Y4, Russley School
extreme ginko walk
rough white bricks on room 10
staying still like a statue in a museum
birds chirping like mad scientists
planning world domination
small brown twig
tiny as a chopped grass root
puffy clouds swishing, swaying,
moulding into indomitable dragons, chunky pigs,
silvery elephants prancing like circus pachyderms
Anabelle K, age 8, Russley School
Sounds of the World
I sit outside
The wind tickling the hair on my cheek
A big truck rumbles by
Interrupting the honk-honk of birds
The wind rises again
The flax goes clickety-clack
The soft sound of the green leaves rubbing
That’s what I hear when I sit outside
Mieke N, Age 9, Y5, Nova Montessori School
I Wonder Why
In front of the library filled with books
mysteries and adventures
the bare oak tree stretches its branches to reach the sky
soft breeze cools me down
a flock of house sparrows chirp gracefully
delicate flowers shine in the sun
and I wonder
why the sky
is such a very bright blue?
Mostafa E, age 9, Y5, Russley School
Wind so shivering cold
I pull down my sleeves
until they cover my hands
The NZ flag flies awkwardly
grasps the pole like a sail on a boat
A small rock in my shoe
pokes my foot hurting my heel
A fabulous fragile yellow nemesia
drops its petals
My red, sharp WARWICK pencil scribbles
adjectives and verbs
Esme S, age 10, Y5, Russley School
Little seeds they fall from plants
Ready to start their plant life
Daffodils sprouting to see the mother Sun
Dance and play with their twins
Blades of grass like the feathers of a duck
Let out the fresh air we breath
Mia M, aged 9, Fendalton Open Air School
Sounds of Spring
The bees sound hot, like the hot ground
as they quiver and buzz like rice bubbles popping.
The cat sounds like a motorbike, a car, an engine
and my dog snoring.
The sparrows sound like people chattering, squawking,
tweeting and beeping.
The thunder sounds like sea in a shell, a giant stomping, a bomb exploding,
waves crashing and drums drumming.
The tūī sounds like a fart, a burp, a hiccup and a frog!
By Charlie P., Theo L-C, Harry P, Charlotte B and Seb S all aged 5 from Westmere School
The clouds move on with every breeze
Making different shapes and sizes
There’s a rabbit
and this one’s a dinosaur, no wait,
it’s a unicorn
When the clouds merge together and the rain pours down
I think of a grayish white dome covering the bright blue sky up
And after it clears and the sun comes out
Little white fluffy clouds start to form something big
Maybe it’ll be a marshmallow shaped cloud with a ring around it
Or a flying tiger
With clouds you can think of anything
Kate, age 10, Churton Park School
I can hear the rough wind traveling through the delicate leaves
But I’m distracted by the big truck beeping, reversing into the building site
But I am put to calm again by the chirping of birds flying through the brown branches on the tree
But I am annoyingly disturbed once again by the footsteps of running children running back to class after having a lot of fun
So overall you can’t have been at peace for more than two minutes.
Alex, age 11, Churton Park School
In the clouds…
Elephants, lions, meerkats
Bossed by the wind
Chased by the wind
Blowing them back home
Disappearing with the wind
Prowling through the sky
Following the wind
Finding their babies
Phoebe, age 12, Selwyn House School
Patterns in Nature – Honeycomb
The yellow hexagon pattern
In protecting plants
I listen for buzzing bees
But all I can hear is the loud rustle
Of the strong wind yelling
At the poor, green trees
Genevye, age 9, Y6, Churton Park School
As I walk through my garden
I see all the obvious things
Like clouds and flowers and my brother loudly whining
But there is one thing I notice
As my bare feet walked across the grass
The mini, skimpy ants
Scoot across the fence
How do these little wonders live
In a world that might be too big for them?
Ahana, 11 years, Churton Park School
Sticks lie everywhere
Their bark as strong as metal
Water sits, waiting, waiting, waiting
Waiting for the wind
Breeze washes the water,
Turning it like yeast
The water changes from
Clean as air
Ivy, age 7, Ilam Primary School
slice open the sky
dance across icy puddles
At the beach
Gulls’ shadows fold a pattern
down the cliff face
In my garden
a snail leaves a wavy pattern
on the concrete
By the pool
clouds make footsteps
across the sky
From the plane
tiny houses create patterns
to make a maze
Saskia F, 9 years old, Year 4, St Andrews College
Cracking on the sand with shiny edges
Racing off the cliff like an acrobat
You can find them on the beach
Smooth as a rock and shiny as a star
Tapping on the sand a bit like a rock
Along with other crystals in a bunch
Lonely on beaches where it’s supposed to be.
by Samuel B aged 7 Westmere School
Standing on mossy grey rock
surrounded by dark murky
water the dark green scales
of a Cezous is hardly visible.
A long snake, like tail
ending in a
is poised in the air.
The only light comes
from the moon shining
through the low fog.
Two blank white eyes
stare into the distance
for a glimmer of life.
Tim, Age:10, Fendalton Open Air
The Sound of the Whistling Wind
The meadow has the sound of the whistling wind,
with the trees swaying.
It’s like a clock twisting on its first hour,
The wind then sitting on a shooting star,
Libby, age 7, Y3, Ilam School
Song of clouds
Puffed up like pastry,
Fluffy as whipped cream,
The candyfloss of the sky.
But not something to eat
The Earth’s fluffy white scarf
Calming and luscious
Paige L, 10 yrs old, Fendalton Open-air School
Wind soaring, whipping and splashing,
screeching and whistling, twirling
around the branches of a wild, wishing tree.
Tūī squawking and roaring, desperate to make a nest.
Swirls drop into rushing water
running in the breeze.
Terrific tūī talk while
A tree smashes down into the river
causing sparrows to fly onto rough stones.
The sparrows squeak and squawk
when suddenly rain starts to splatter down,
lightning frizzles down onto the wooden, wacky
and watery trees, and thunder zips
and zooms through the dark and gloomy sky.
Soon stars shine in the shimmering sky
making crickets turn and turn.
Myla F age: 7 LS6 Westmere School
The beast I saw
has a deep dark
voice that goes
He has squiggly lines
and little dots
on his back.
He is also greedy
and sometimes eat clouds.
He has a beak like a bird
as big as an oven.
He is so greedy
as greedy as
I was once sleeping
when I woke up
my right hand was gone.
I knew that the beast
He lives in a desert
as dry as 10,000
and grass as
cold as ice.
William, age 9, St Andrews School
BOOM! SPLAT! BANG!
High pitched squeaks
echoing from the pūkeko in the rain.
CHERP CHERP CHERP
goes the fantail in the rain.
PZZZZZ FLICK FLACK CLICK CLACK
goes the cicada in the rain.
kiwi in the rain.
SWIP SWAP SWIP SWAP
goes the black swan in the rain
Lola H age 8 LS6 Westmere School
Its sharp twisted horns sliced the air,
Its dark hooded eyes endlessly stare,
Its mud-tipped white fur rippled in the wind,
An icy aura billowed from its skin,
Scaled talons ripped the trees,
As it landed with practiced ease,
Its feathered wings whipped through clouds,
Everything that surrounds,
Really does not want to meet,
Samantha P, Yr 8, Tai Tapu School
Noah XB age 7 LS6 Westmere School
Shhhhhhh Listen to Nature!
Burrrrrrrrrp croaked the tuis proudly.
Brrrrrrrrrr drummed the bees, shaking their booties.
Bzzzzzzzz tickled the cicadas, rattling their thorax.
Cheep, chip, cheep, chip, chattered the sparrows.
Bash! Mash! Crash! Smash! Exploded the thunder.
Trish’s Year 1 class (5 and 6 years old) at Richmond Rd School
And rain poured.
The noise was terrifying
It was as loud as elephants STOMPING
It was as loud as a lion’s ROAR
It was as loud as an eagle’s SCREAM
It was as loud as a wolf HOWLING!
Tekaia R Age 8 LS6 and Harry D Age 7 LS6 Westmere School
There is a mysterious trail
curving its way,
It crept around the chairs,
winding almost up to the big books basket!
It’s all jiggly and blobby
and the snail or slug,
creating a silky net of mucous
on the scratchy carpet,
inching its way up to the bench,
and winding its way back.
Sophia L age 7 in LS3 Westmere School
The Only Amber Dragon
There was once an amber dragon
She lives in a dungeon
She eats meat during the day and during the night she sleeps and hunts for food.
Her eyes are dark as midnight.
If you see her, you’ll get a fright!
Her scales are hard as rock and bright as the sun.
Olivia, age 9, French unit, Richmond Rd School
He has pointy teeth,
turned up toes
And a big pointy horn behind his nose.
He lives in a hole under a tree
All in the dark with nothing to see.
Awake at night,
asleep at day
All in waiting to find his prey.
Tallulah K, age 9, Richmond Road School, L’Archipel
Sounds Of Autumn
Warm blasts of foreign air
Carrying the scent of fresh fruit.
The wind’s gush
Ameer, age 9, Y5, Ilam School
Small things we don’t notice,
In the garden, in the house, in the library,
Seeds as small as ants in the garden,
Dust in the house,
Spider webs like thread in the library.
Small things we don’t notice,
In the grass, in the bed, in the classroom,
Shiny as diamonds are bugs in the grass,
Hair on the bed,
Yummy as chocolate are crumbs in the classroom.
Small things we don’t notice,
We should notice them.
Mia W, Age: 8 Year 5 Fendalton School
Birds are singing.
Insects are chirping.
Telling me their song.
The wind is whispering.
Telling me stories from long ago.
My sister is laughing.
Telling me everything’s okay.
Mia C, Age: 10, College Street Normal School
In a mystery of boulders
Sits a tiny pebble
Hidden in the shadows
Of towering rocks
Desperate to be noticed
Slivers of shimmer
Contrasting the immense greystone
I wonder if that pebble will grow
Daniel L Year 7, Age 12 Hadlow School