Category Archives: NZ Children’s poetry

Poetry Box NATIONAL POETRY DAY celebration: 8 NZ children’s authors read a poem for you – plus poetry challenges – plus book giveaways – IDEAS for SCHOOLS and for LOCKDOWN TIME

National Poetry Day is on Friday August 27th. To celebrate I invited 8 of my favourite children’s authors to read a poem they love. I have put some poetry challenges under each reading for you to try. I am fairly sure National Poetry Day events will be reinvented online so I am sharing this poetry festival now.

Perfect for National Poetry Day but even more perfect for lockdown. Writing and reading poems is my happy place! Have a go!

I am currently in a state of drift and daze so do let me know if I have made mistakes – I am always grateful not offended.

🌻 A big bouquet of warm thanks and salty west-coast air and mānuka scent and blue skies to the eight authors who did such glorious mahi out of poetry love and the poets who gave permission. Thank you!

Listen to the authors read a poem

Try some of my poem challenges

Deadline: 10th September

Send to:

Include: name, age, year, name of school or homeschooled

Don’t forget to put National Poetry Day Poem in subject line so I don’t miss it

I will post some favourite poems on 17th September. I will have loads of books to give away! I will read all the poems and email you back by this date.

IF YOU MAKE a video – I need parental permission to post it if I pick it.

TOP TIP: Leave your poem for a day and then read it out loud. Listen again before you send it to me.

Happy National Poetry Day!

Keep safe, be kind, share the joy in poetry.

The Poets reading Poems

Vasanti Unka

Vasanti Unka reads ‘When the Lid Slides back’ by Bill Manhire

Poem challenges

Choose a favourite object and write a poem about it.

Pick five favourite words in Bill’s poem and use them in a poem of your own.

Bill loved using his coloured pencils. What do you love doing? Write a poem, long or short, about a favourite thing to do. You might start with an object or you might collect verbs to get you started.

You could turn any of these ideas into a picture/shape/concrete poem. You could make an audio or video of yourself reading your poem or even making your poem!! (need parental permission to send me)

Poem source: Bill Manhire is one of my favourite NZ poets and I especially love this poem. I picked it for A Treasury of NZ Poetry for Children (Penguin Random House). It is in Bill’s collection The Victims of Lightning (Victoria University Press).

Vasanti Unka is a picture book creator who writes, illustrates and designs books for ages, 4 – 108 year olds. Over the years, her work has won a range of awards. Her latest book, I Am the Universe won the Booksellers best kids book for 2021. She was born in Pukekohe and presently works out of her sunroom in Auckland. Vasanti’s blogspot. Penguin author page

Bill Manhire’s most recent poetry book Wow (VUP) was longlisted for the NZ Book Awards 2020. He was New Zealand’s inaugural poet laureate, and founded and for many years taught at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington. Many New Zealand poets have been through this highly acclaimed writing propgramme. In 2005 he was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in in the same year was named an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate. He has edited major poetry anthologies. You can listen to some of his poems here.

Gareth Ward

Gareth Ward reads ‘The Door’ by Daniel Stokes (written aged 10)

Poetry Challenges

Choose a portal, maybe a door or window, and build a poem around it. Your poem might be IMAGINARY or REALISTIC.

You could do a list poem. A window is … OR A door is … OR A gate is …

Or you could write a poem that uses a portal to tell a story. Think of the scene, the mood, fascinating things that might be on the other side.

Poem source: Toitoi 21. This is a wonderful journal of writing and artwork by children. You can find details about it here.

Gareth Ward, a.k.a. The Great Wardini, is a magician, hypnotist, storyteller, bookseller and author. He has worked as a Royal Marine Commando, Police Officer, Evil Magician and Zombie. He basically likes jobs where you get to wear really cool hats. He currently resides in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand where he runs two independent bookshops, Wardini Books and Wardini Books Napier with his wife Louise. He has a goldfish called Luna, a dog called Tonks and is certain his letter from Hogwarts has been lost in the post.

His first novel, The Traitor and the Thief, a rip-roaring young adult Steampunk adventure, won the 2016 Storylines Tessa Duder Award, the 2018 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Youth Novel, a 2018 Storylines Notable Book Award and was a finalist in two categories at The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. His second novel, The Clockill and the Thief was released in August 2019 and won a Sir Julius Vogel award for best youth novel. Brasswitch and Bot is Gareth’s third novel and the first in the Rise of the Remarkables series. It is set in the city of York, where Gareth went to University.

My name is Daniel, I was born in Hamilton and still live here. I am 11 years old, turning 12 in December. I live with my sister (Abby), my mum (Kate) and my dad (David). My many hobbies include Irish dancing, reading, and trumpet, which have all become very important to me. I am working towards Grade 5 for practical trumpet and music theory.  I have also developed an interest in waterpolo earlier this year. I am very passionate about that and look forward to the next season. 

The first writing I enjoyed was poetry, which my many teachers at my old school, Hukanui School, made me do all the time. That then brought me into the world of writing. In the last few years I went from disliking writing quite strongly to enjoying it very much. The problem that I had always had with writing was not the actual ideas and content, it was the physical writing and having a link between what I was thinking (which goes 100 miles an hour) to what I was writing (which was much, much slower). Poetry allowed me to think less about grammatical structure and the amount of words and more about how I could bend words to my advantage, by investigating how groups of words sound together to paint a picture.

Philippa Werry

Phillipa Werry reads ‘If you feel blue get on your skidoo’ by Margaret Mahy

Poetry Challenges courtesy of Phillipa:

Write a poem about another mode of transport that plays on its name, as Margaret does with skidoo.  You could pick submarine, double-decker bus, helicopter, train, bicycle, balloon, snowboard, lorry … or something other fascinating means of travelling. 

Write a list poem that starts If you feel ….. (some emotion). You could feel happy, sad, scared, lonely lost, cross, shy, bored … you pick!

Write a poem with some made-up words in it. 

Your poem might tell a story or just have fun with WORDS!

Let your imagine go flying!

Poem source: This fabulous poem is in Margaret’s fabulous poetry collection The Word Witch, edited by Tessa Duder, illustrations by David Elliot (HarperCollins)

Philippa Werry writes fiction, non-fiction, plays and poetry for children and young adults. She has a particular interest in history which has led to titles such as Anzac Day, Best Mates (illustrated by Bob Kerr), Waitangi Day, The New Zealand Wars, The Telegram and This is Where I Stand (illustrated by Kieran Rynhart). She has also been to Antarctica!

Margaret Mahy (1936 – 2012) is one of New Zealand’s most beloved authors. She wrote over two hundred titles from dazzling picture books for the very young to award-winning novels for teenagers. She wrote poems, novels, non-fiction, picture books and countless school readers. Margaret was awarded the Hans Christian Anderson Medal which is an enormous, international honour.

Donovan Bixley

Donovan Bixley reads ‘The Circus’ by Joy Cowley

Poetry Challenges

Donovan says he loves funny poems and poems with an AH HA! moment in the middle. I do too!

Try writing a poem that is funny. It might be a funny character, a funny event, a funny place, funny food, funny jokes.

Write a poem about something funny that has happened to you.

Write a poem that has a surprise or a twist in the middle or at the end.

Poem source: Elephant Rhymes, Joy Cowley, illustrated by Brent Putzee (Scholastic) I am such a fan of Joy’s poems. Check our her Gobbledegook book (see her bio).

Donovan Bixley is one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed picture book creators with over 120 books published in 31 countries. His award-winning titles span high–brow to low–brow and every brow in between, from his illustrated biography Much Ado About Shakespeare, to the hilarious hijinks of pussycats in planes in Paris in his Flying Furballs seriesHe’s most well-known for his best-selling pre-school books such as The Wheels on the Bus and The Great Kiwi ABC Book, as well as his colourful and humorous retellings of of the legends of Māui. Among his many accolades Donovan was the recipient of the 2017 Mallinson Rendel Illustrators Laureate Award, which places Donovan’s body of work alongside some of New Zealand’s most celebrated artists. His books have been twice selected for the International Youth Library’s White Raven award which annually lists the top 200 children’s books in the world, and in 2021 he was named a Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for his services to New Zealand children’s literature.Donovan grew up in Taupō and still lives beside the great lake. When not immersed in the world of picture books Donovan is involved in local theatre and plays saxophone in several bands.

Joy Cowley is one of New Zealand’s best-loved writers. Her awards include the Margaret Mahy Medal; the NZ Post Children’s Book Award 2006; the Roberta Long Medal, Alabama, USA; and the AW Reed Award for Contribution to New Zealand Literature. She is a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Gecko Pres published the utterly magnificent gathering of Joy’s poems, with illustrations by Giselle Clarkson in The Gobbledegook Book: A Joy Cowley Anthology.

Melinda Szymanik

Melinda Szymanik reads ‘Sun Sonata’ by Elizabeth Pulford and ‘Waxing and Waning’ by Elena de Roo.

Poetry Challenges

Try writing a very small poem about the sun OR the moon that shows them in a new light.

Collect sun OR moon words and make poem patterns with them. Have word fun!

Write a very small poem with both the SUN and MOON in. Test out favourite lines and pick your favourites.

Poem sources: Elizabeth Pulford’s ‘Sun Sonata and Elena de Roo’s poems are both in A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children, edited by Paula Green (Penguin Random House).

Melinda Szymanik is an award-winning writer of stories and poetry for children and young adults. She was the 2014 University of Otago, College of Education, Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence, a judge for the 2016 NZCYA Book Awards and runs an online writing competition called Fabostory, for primary and intermediate age children with 9 other authors. Her most recent books are Moon and Sun (Upstart, 2021), My Elephant is Blue (Penguin, 2021) and Batkiwi (Scholastic, 2021).

Elena de Roo is a children’s poet and author who lives next to Cornwall Park in Auckland. As well as having a sweet tooth, she loves thinking up poems in her head while walking around the park. Her latest book, Rush! Rush! (illus. Jenny Cooper) One Tree House, is a story-poem inspired by a walk in Awhitu regional park. Elena also has several poems soon to appear in RoarSqueakPurr: A NZ Treasury of Animal Poems, (ed. Paula Green, illus. Jenny Cooper), Penguin Random House, due out in November. 

Elizabeth Pulford lives in a small village not far from the city of Dunedin, New Zealand, with one extra nice husband, and a gentle garden. She has two adult children and two grandchildren. She has published stories, poems and articles for both adults and children. Over sixty books for children, from early readers through to Young Adults; plus one adult’s novel. Many of her adult short stories have won competitions, while four of her children’s books, The Memory Tree (Scholastic NZ), Call of the Cruins (Scholastic NZ), Tussock (Walker Books Australia) and Finding Monkey Moon (Walker Books Australia & Candlewick USA) reached the finals of the New Zealand Children’s Book Awards.

Tania Roxborogh

Tania Roxborogh reads ‘My Sister’s Top’ by Ruth Sun (Year 7)

Poetry Challenge

Think of an everyday object that you can describe in a poem, and that says something about who you are and your place in the world.

Use someone’s favourite piece of clothing to write a poem about them.

Choose your own favourite piece of clothing and see where that takes you in a poem. You might get a story, a word pattern, a picture poem, a list poem.

Poem source: Ruth wrote this poem when she did writing workshops with Tania over six weeks in 2006.

Tania Roxborogh (Ngāti Porou) is a veteran educator and an award-winning writer of over thirty published works. Her latest children’s novel, Charlie Tangaroa and the creature from the sea, published by Huia Publishers September 2020, won the Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction and Margaret Mahy Book of the Year in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, 2021. Tania’s happy places are: her classroom, at home with her husband and her young border collie, enjoying pyjama days, and wherever she can snatch time to read – most often books recommended by her students.

From Ruth Sun: I was a massive reader all through my teenage years, at the time I really liked fantasy and always wanted to be the next Tamora Pierce or Terry Pratchett. I was at Columba College in Dunedin. I used to read and write constantly, although I didn’t actually like poetry much at the time. 

Unfortunately I don’t really do any writing anymore, although it’s something I always think about getting back into. Funnily enough I love reading poetry now, I still love Tamora Pierce and Terry Pratchett as well. I’m now a dentist based in Wellington/Porirua. I have a big collection of books but they’re all in storage at the moment. I’m sure mum still has that top somewhere!

Elena de Roo

Elena de Roo reads ‘Parcel’ by Bill Nagelkerke

Poetry Challenges

Think of a place you love and unwrap it in a poem! It might be your grandparents’ place, or aunt or uncle’s, or in another town or city, in the countryside, another country.

Hunt for detail that will make the place glow in your poem.

Poetry Source: The Night the Moon Fell Down and other poems, Bill Nagelkerke (Copy Press) – some terrific poems in this collection! PG

Elena de Roo is a children’s poet and author who lives next to Cornwall Park in Auckland. As well as having a sweet tooth, she loves thinking up poems in her head while walking around the park. Her latest book, Rush! Rush! (illus. Jenny Cooper) One Tree House, is a story-poem inspired by a walk in Awhitu regional park. Elena also has several poems soon to appear in RoarSqueakPurr: A NZ Treasury of Animal Poems, (ed. Paula Green, illus. Jenny Cooper), Penguin Random House, due out in November. 

A former children’s librarian, Bill Nagelkerke has written short stories, poems, plays and books for all ages, as well as translating other people’s books from Dutch into English. His most recent titles are a collection of poems, The night the moon fell down (dist. The Copy Press, 2019) and a ghost story, The ghosts on the hill (Cuba Press, 2020). His translation of the children’s novel I’ll keep you close (Levine Querido, 2021) by Dutch writer Jeska Verstegen will be published towards the end of the year.

Bill Nagelkerke

Bill Nagelkerke reads ‘No rhyme’ by Tim Upperton

Poetry Challenge

Tim Upperton’s poem offers lots of challenges for poets! Try writing a poem where you use your imagination and see the world in surprising ways.

Look out the window and rewrite what you see in a poem, letting your imagination soar.

Poem source: ‘No rhyme’ was published in the School Journal Level 3 August 2015 

A former children’s librarian, Bill Nagelkerke has written short stories, poems, plays and books for all ages, as well as translating other people’s books from Dutch into English. His most recent titles are a collection of poems, The night the moon fell down (dist. The Copy Press, 2019) and a ghost story, The ghosts on the hill (Cuba Press, 2020). His translation of the children’s novel I’ll keep you close (Levine Querido, 2021) by Dutch writer Jeska Verstegen will be published towards the end of the year.

Tim Upperton is a poet, writer, reviewer and teacher, living in Palmerston North. He is the winner of two international poetry competitions. He has been published in numerous literary journals and has published several poetry collections.

Poetry Box: A Booktown treat – poetry from tamariki in Featherston

When I was at Featherston Booktown Festival in May, I got to do a Speed Date an Author event with local tamariki. It was fast flying poetry! I got thirty minutes with each group and I got the children writing poems with me on the whiteboard and their own poems they could take away and finish. I challenged them to use their ears and eyes. I loved the way children got into the poetry zone and let their ideas and words go exploring.

I so enjoyed my time in the magnificent Wairarapa. I got the children to write poem postcards – poems that showed me somewhere in the Wairarapa they loved. It could be the ocean, a river, a maunga, a grandmother’s garden, a street, a cafe, a bookshop. Poems that showed me places I might like to check out! And because we had only a few minutes to share, I invited them to send me some.

How delighted I was to get this poem bundle from South Featherston School. Thank you for taking me back to your glorious region. I can tell your eyes and ears were working magnificently. Thank you!

Best yummiest dumplings ever at The Offering Cafe in Greytown.

The Poems


The buzzer on the

 door went beep 

as we appear

 through the door.

The books are clapping. 

The scanner is scanning.  

The coffee machine is 


The floor board is 


The people are chatting.

The cicadas chirp

 as we Exit on to the

 busy street.


 Wairarapa Ruamahanga River

Glistening emerald green

shining in the beam

of the sun rays.

River rustling round

banks rising over 

the ripples

wakes running high

boards flailing

banging the break.

shwish, shwish, shwish

People call the speed. 

Getting ready.


Tararua Ranges

The trees swish

The trees crash

High winds howl

Gravel scattering while people walk

Floor boards creek

Swing bridge sways

River crashes splashing on rocks

Birds flap

Birds squawk

Cicadas chirp throughout the forest.



Rugby is cool

Rugby is great 

Rugby is a game 

I play with my mates 

Sometimes I get muddy

And sometimes I get hurt 

The game gets frustrating 

And you might rage

But at least I’m with my mates



Balls flying

Birds chirping

Bush swaying

Rivers swishing moving

Hammers clanking

Wind howling brushing against you

Boots trending on the muddy ground

Rain hosing down

This is the Wairarapa



The wind whistles

The trees sway

It was a cold day

The crackling fire sizzled

My blankets ruffle

The stars glimmer in the sky

The moon glides into

The dark deep blue sky

I gaze off into

The galaxy next to us


The Lake, Wairarapa

it’s pretty fun,

trees, bushes, and water together,

children building, swimming, and laughing,

watch the ducks and swans glide across the water,

hear the tūī chirp above,

the clouds forming waves,

you should go there sometime.


Lake Wairarapa

Motor roars away

I vibrate as water crashes

Water pellets hit faces

Screams echo far

Hills covered with green

Big wave hits


We fall off.



Splash! Splash! Splash!

Crunch! soft soft sand

SQUAWK! Go the seagulls

Boom go the waves

 It’s going to be a very, nice, day.


It’s going to be a very nice POETRY day!

Featherston’s main road, a town with seven bookshops!

a very very very good children’s bookshop

On my way home after a heart warming week of words and very very good food! Thanks Wairarapa and Featherston Booktown.

Poetry Box in Featherston: Magnetic Poetry

What fun to do poetry with children in Featherston (and some mums who joined in too!). I read some of my poems, we made up long long snaking poems, we made up poems using our ears, and we made up poems using our eyes. I loved the way everyone joined in and the pens went scratching like tiny poetry mice on the paper. A SPECIAL DAY!

So a big thank you to all the children (and mums) who filled the room with a poetry glow – I was still glowing as I drove over the Rimutaka range on Monday and flew home! I was waiting for someone to ask what my glow was all about, so I could say it was a Featherston Booktown glow from all the poems the children wrote.

I am so sorry not all my photos turned out so I have just shared a few with you! Honey-rose only half your Platywawa poem was in the photo!

Here are a few of the poems

Animals Are Fun

The Snake

I’m a slithery snake

I’m a slow shedding snake

I’m a red banded snake

I’m a mountain dwelling snake

I’m a dynamic ssssssing snake

I’m an awesome smelling snake

I’m a LONG snake

Isaac, age 9, St Teresa School


I’m tiny teeny chihuahua

I’m a sleepy weepy chihuahua

I’m a fat rat chihuahua

I’m a kind windy chihuahua

I’m a cheeky sneaky chihuahua

Honey-rose, age 9, St Teresa School

I’m a Horse

I’m a lightning speedy horse

I’m a stinky muddy horse

I’m a raspberry lemonade horse

I’m a loving loving pretty horse

Sarah, age 8, Queen Margaret College


I’m a sausage roll cat

I’m a pink polka dot cat

I’m an orange stripy cat

I’m a crunchy munchy cat

I’m a sweet lolly cat

I’m a loved loved cat

Evie, age 8, Greytown School


The cat is stripy and fluffy

and cute and a good cat.

Emilia, age 6, Featherston School

Imaginary Animals


The lizarpus likes to eat the fungi

The lizarpus doesn’t like to eat pie

The lizarpus likes to eat chocolate

The Lizarpus likes to drink juice

The lizarpus likes rocks

The lizaropus swims in the sea

The lizarpus loves clouds

The lizarpus is AWESOME!

Isaac, age 9, St Teresa School

The Sniger

A sniger likes to eat meat

A sniger likes to play catch the ball

A sniger likes to slide and snooze

And you have to watch out for its tail

or you might turn into kale!

India, age 7, Featherston School


Eletamus grow in the forest

Bathes in the mud

Plays with sparkling sequins

East dry hay

Elatamus makes your day

Azalea, age 7, St Teresa School

The Snakog

The snakog likes to eat mouse

and tigers.

The snakog likes to play

with his ball.

Lulu, age 8, Queen Margaret College

And some picture poems for our mums

My Mum

Long silky black hair,
Smile as wide as the sun,

Eyes as brown as cocoa,

Eyebrows as dark as the midnight sky,
Posture proud as the sun.


Poetry Box review: ‘Rush! Rush!’ by Elena de Roo, illustrated by Jenny Cooper

Rush! Rush! by Elena de Roo, illustrated by Jenny Cooper, One Tree House, 2021

Over the fence,

and down with a whoosh!

Onto the track!

Into the bush.

Elena de Roo is my favourite New Zealand poet for children and I have long hoped for a collection from her. Her new book Rush! Rush! is definitely a start. The book-length poem is an absolute JOY to read. A young girl is racing to get from home to the beach. Maestro illustrator Jenny Cooper has painted the girl in her pyjamas and dressing gown, because she has pulled the curtains back, peeked at the beautiful day, and then whizzed through the door. Rush! Rush! Rush! The illustrations are sublime. So full of exuberant life. Read the book and savour the images as you race along with the poem and the girl. You will get breathless too!

Every word is pitch perfect. One of the reasons (and there are many) I admire Elena as a poet is because she has a deft musical ear. She listens to how the line sounds. She avoids the clunky predictable rhythms and rhymes of so many picture books. She catches the rhythm of a child rushing, breathing in sights and sounds, and who is too excited to stop. The rhymes are a treat, especially the near rhymes that add knottiness to the musical flow (blind / time; sheep / bleat). She dances between soft and sharp sounds. Ah! she is a poet musician extraordinaire!

It felt like I read the story poem in one delicious breath – and I really liked the ending. A perfect ending (a single word!) to open the story wide like the girl’s arms stretched wide on the cover.

This book is a JOYFUL INVIGORATING POETRY treat and would be the very best book to read aloud to a class or your children. I was reminded of Margaret Mahy’s fabulous A Summery Saturday Morning. I love Rush! Rush! And it has given me an idea for my April Poetry Challenge.

Swoop round the shed,

In a ground-hugging loop.

What’s all the fuss about?

Rattles the roof.

Elena de Roo completed this book when she was the 2020 University of Otago College of Education / Creative NZ Children’s Writer in Residence. She has written a number of award-winning books and lives in Auckland.

Jenny Cooper is an award-winning illustrator and has illustrated more than 70 books. She lives in Amberley, Christchurch.

One Tree House page

Elena de Roo website

Poetry Box March poem challenge: SUMMER!

Welcome back to Poetry Box!! I am very excited about doing poetry with you in 2021 and seeing how words will take us exploring, adventuring, experimenting, playing, recording, inventing, telling stories, sounding good, thinking, dreaming, feeling GOOD!

I had a lovely summer. My vegetable garden went crazy with veggies. I read loads of books (adult and children and in between!). I wrote some poems. I started secret new writing projects I will go exploring with this year.

And YES!! I have an exciting new children’s book coming out later in the year. I edited an animal poem anthology and can’t wait for you to see it.

Sad things happened – we now have only one pet left – Charlie the stray kitten is now an old man cat (nearly 18!) who likes to sleep in my guitar case.

So let’s getting writing poems!

The March Poem Challenge:

Summer poems

Write a poem that is inspired by summer. It can be true, made up, tell a story, short, long. Here are some ideas.

TOP tip: Don’t send your poem the day you write it. Let it sit until at least the next day if not a week.

Here are some ideas:

Write a summer postcard to someone about something you saw or did.

Write a summer poem about your favourite summer place. Use words to take a photograph or a video!

Write a summer poem that has loads of summer verbs.

Write a summer poem that has loads of summer nouns.

Write a summer poem about your favourite summer food.

Write a summer poem that tells a summer story.

Write a summer poem that imagines the perfect summer experience.

Write a summer poem about has a twist in the telling!

Write a summer poem that catches summer weather.

Write a summer poem that is full of surprises.

Write a summer poem about your favourite summer moment.

YOU can include an artwork

DEADLINE: 26th March


INCLUDE: your name, age, year, name of school or say home schooled

DON”T FORGET TO WRITE: Summer poem challenge in email subject line

H a v e f u n !

Poetry Box November challenge: some favourite food poems

from Taikura Steiner School

thanks everyone who sent in poems in 2020 and making Poetry Box so special

It has taken me ages to read all your scrumptious food poems (hundreds of them!) with such sweet salty sour sizzling word choices. I loved the way your imaginations leapt and trampolined, and your poems made me want to eat yummy things.

Too many poems to post them all – but the challenge is to have fun writing poetry and to play with words and ideas. And you have done a SMORGASBORD of that. What fun.

I always feel sad I can’t pick all your poems, but I hope you keep up the poetry love over summer and try writing a poem of your own.

I have had big problems doing this post so if your poem is set out wrong or I haven’t replied to you let me know.

AND then in March 2021 try my first poem challenge of the year.

Poetry Box is never hosting competitions (so no winners and losers) but invites you to try new and old things when it comes to writing a poem.

I was inspired to do the food challenge by the excellent Egg & Spoon cookbook (Alexander Tylee and Giselle Clarkson). Gecko Press have kindly given me two copies to give away. I am giving them to: Harry S from Fendalton School and Finn B from Russley School.

The Poems


When mum’s in the kitchen
the smell of fresh pie
fills the rooms
of my house
then it sneaks out.

Vitek M, 7 years old, Y2, Ilam School

A Bed of Clams

Cranky, clinky clams

Checked rough patterns

burrowing like kids in bed

Finn B Year 3 Russley School

My Morning Porridge

My morning porridge
Steaming in pot
Nutritious warmth trapped inside
Just oats and creamy milk
My morning porridge
Melting in your mouth
Leaving me with a warm glow in my tummy
Ready for a long day at school
My morning porridge
Raspberry, blueberries and banana
Fruit explosions
Sticking to my face
I lick up the warm goodness
Of my morning porridge

Phoebe, age 12, Selwyn House


French waffles in snowy Paris with a little dog tied to a dark leather lead drinking cold glistening water looking at my waffle with its golden crispy coat

Harry S age 9 year 4 Fendalton School


A crumb,
birds chomping,
flying away,
a competition,
starting in the sky.

Maia-Sophia B Age: 11 Ilam School

Crispy Egg Tarts

Crispy egg tarts
Have a lovely crunch to them
A hot egg jelly inside

Joyce X, age 9, Fendalton Open Air School

Cold Spaghetti

I have a dog
a black as coal dog.
Her name is Poppy
whenever we go to the park
she lets herself loose
out on the field
and slowly gets tired
and sits down beside me
begging for food of course.
I refuse
she runs as fast as thunder
to an open can of cold spaghetti
Yum yum!

Libby, age 7, Ilam School

Poems from Richmond Rd School


Crunchy Seaweed and squishy rice
With a surprise in the middle
Curled up like a cylinder
With a tasty texture.

By Kaden, Ana Cooper O and Meadow


Sticky sweet suckers,
Dissolving in my mouth.
Slippery on your tongue.
Melty in your mouth,
Super sweet and sticky,
Sour surprises!

By Felix and Issy, Feddie and Sophia L


It is super sweet on your tongue
It’s like a crooked, fat, witches nose.
It’s a glowing heart with black freckles.

By Sophia L and Feddie


Red and juicy flesh in my mouth
A sweet surprise in the shape of a love heart
Full of seeds and nice and squishy
Like a precious red ruby.

By Issy and Felix


Pale orange like the sun
Setting across the silver sea
It’s as juicy as a melting ice block

By Cooper and Meadow

MORE Scrumptious Food Poems

My annoying brother

It’s 6 am,
I feel like it’s 1,
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
I hear heavy footsteps downstairs.
I slip my slippers on and my dressing gown.
I tiptoe out of my room, open the door, creek! The door creeks open,
I continue to tiptoe down the stairs.
I reach the bottom of the stairs.
My arm is reaching for a torch nearby.
I turn it on.
Crunch, munch, crunch.
I head towards the kitchen door.
My brother yells, ‘AHH!’
‘It’s okay, it’s okay it is only me’ I say calmly.
I stride across the floor to where he’s sitting bolt upright on a stool opposite a counter full of biscuits and chocolate.
‘Eating breakfast’ My brother said with a nervous tone.
‘Oh really?

Isabella G Age:10 Selwyn House School

I like FOOD

I have travelled the world

And tasted food of all kinds

Here are just some

That spring to my mind

The food in France

Sent me into a trance



Frogs legs


In Finland I ate bold

Because I was so cold




Rice pie

In Aussie it was easy

To find food that was greasy


Meat pies


Loaded fries

The buffets of Singapore

Have all food types – and more



Egg stations

Juice flurries

In Canada, poutine

Hawaii has loco moco

In America, alligator

Couscous in Morocco

Fettucine, fish, frankfurters and fruit

Oreos, oranges, Opera cakes

Oats, omelettes, or oxtail soup

Dumplings, donuts, duck and dates

There is so much food! But I have to say

The thing that I like most

Is what I eat at home every day…

Peanut buttery toast!

Daniel L, age 12, Y7, Hadlow School


It’s a warm and sunny day

To be on the gorgeous bay

I am jumping and splashing

And oh! I hear loud screeching

I swish, jump and turn around

See a car going around

I see an ice cream on top

Of the car that makes me hop


I quickly run to my dad

He pulls dollars out and I’m glad

He replies : “You are in luck!”

So I run straight to the truck

I now have a chocolate chip

Ice cream in chocolate dip


Leo Y Year 7 Age 11, Russley School

Salmon Patties

The shopping list:
210 grams of crimson red salmon
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of self-raising flour
1-2 tablespoons of stinky vinegar.

The Classic Method
Drain the liquid of the salmon and replace with the smelliest vinegar you can find
In a bowl, beat up the eggs…but don’t bully them
Mix the flour into the bullied eggs
Now add the salmon and mix well, like soil and water
In a frying pan, add a pat of butter and oil
Once you have heated it up enough, you will hear sizzling like the sounds of summer
Add the mushy mixture in tablespoon lots and cook until the mixture sets. Or before Christmas comes
With an egg slicer turn the patties repeatedly until nice and crispy brown…or when your heart desires
You can now officially munch your salmon patties up.
Pro tip: Eat before your family discovers that you’re eating the yummiest recipe ever

Niya K Age: 10 Ilam School Canterbury

How to make breakfast:

First you take the bread out of the freezer.
Then you heat it up using the heater.
Next you put it in the toaster and heat it up nice.
While you wait, get some water and put in some ice.
When the toast is done, take a butter knife to spread the peanut butter.
Then put the cheese on the toast using a cheese cutter.
When the breakfast meal is completed,
Well, now you can eat it!

Scarlett B 11 yrs old Yr 6 College Street Normal School


My slim fingers
dig into the slimy spaghetti
spilled on my plate.
The sauce bubbles
through my teeth,
slowly slips away down my throat,
scratches my insides
like tiger’s teeth
rippling down my belly.

Eliska M, 9 years old, Y5 Ilam School

Fish Burritos

nicely toasted soft tortillas crumble into my mouth

fresh and thick sour cream changes the taste

crumbs wrapped around my fish like a cloak

red onion dancing along my taste buds sharing its song

leafy coriander reminds me of trees

sriracha sauce giving it a kick to top it off

Violetta, aged 11, Selwyn House School

LS4 Middle School at Westmere


Once I ate a snail,
which left a snail trail,
on my tongue!

It could have been less blubbery
and very much less flubbery.
The little thing daren’t go down.

I liked it but I couldn’t.
I’d like it if it didn’t
make me have to chew and grind
and swallow it whole!

At first it tasted like olives.
just a flavoured bit of fat,
but after a while I thought…
“I’ll never stomach that!”

by Lakie

My Ode to Malaysian

Oh Malaysian, Malaysian
You are the best.
Your roti is like a pancake.
Your spicy chicken blows me away,
probably because you are in a curry!

Oh Malaysian, Malaysian
I love your pineapple and coconut milkshake.
It wakes me up the moment I sip it.
I love you from my head to my feet.

Oh Malaysian, Malaysian
You are my love.
When I eat you I feel like a dove!
I will never let you go,
not for a month.
No, not time to go!
Do I have to wait another week?

By Nina

Potato Top Pie!

Potato top pie
so creamy and delicious.
On the top,
a potato tornado,
swirling like the wind
on a breezy day.
It’s my favourite in the world!
I find it extraordinary.
It melts in my mouth,
like an ice cream
on a hot day.
Out of all the pies,
this is the best.
Do you like it too?
I do!
Potato top pie.


Fish and Chips

Fish and chips.
Crunching and munching
on these delightful chips!
Soft in the middle
crunchy on the outside.
Man, I can’t stop munching
on these fish and chips.
Little bit sweet
little bit sour.
Just the perfect flavour.
Ohhhhh! This is the food!
Fish and chips.
Crunching and munching
on these delightful chips!



Pizza, Pizza, Pizza
It’s time to make a base.
Knead, knead, knead, knead
stretch, stretch, pull.

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza
It’s time to spread the sauce.
Dollop, dollop,spread, spread
We could add some gorse?

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza
It’s time to lay the toppings.
Mushrooms, salami and olives too.
Plop! on the pizza,
Yum for you!

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza.
It’s time to sprinkle the cheese.
Sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle
Pizza for me!

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza
It’s time to cook it brown.
Bake, bake, bake, bake,
Turn the oven down.

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza
It’s time to eat it up!

Share, share, share, share,

By Martha

Year One Richmond Road School

A Feastival

Fish sizzling in a frying pan
Odorous onions make me cry
Sour lemon makes my face funny
Popcorn fireworks blowing through the air
Chicken drumsticks feel so slippery and greasy

Trish’s year 1 class Richmond Road School


Radishes as red as a tomato
Apples as golden as a medal
Ice cream is as brown as a raisin
Nectarines are as yellow as a buttercup
Broccoli is as green as mint
Oranges are as orange as Fruit Bursts
Watermelon as pink as a pig
Spaghetti as beige as a building block

Trish’s year 1 class Richmond Road School


Crunchy munchy chicken chips
Handful of happiness
In my puku
Potatoes at their best
Salty, spicy, scrumptious!

Trish’s year 1 class Richmond Road School

6 & 7 year olds at Westmere School

My Food! My Food!

My cat likes fish,
I don’t like fish!
I love strawberries.
They’re really juicy!
I lick my lips
when I see them.

Chloe H Age 7


I hate dark chocolate.
I love pepperoni pizza with cheese.
I love mango flavoured ice cream
I hate Peas!

Yosei F Age 6

Ice Cream and Food

I like chocolate and ice cream
But I hate smoked salmon.
I like pizza
pineapple and ham pizza,
I hate rice and peas mixed in a bowl.
I love broccoli and chicken.
I love strawberries
and ice cream
and popcorn.

Chloe P Age 6


Soft buns.
It has tomato sauce
that goes well
with mustard
as hot as
hot chocolate.
The chips
are so salty
I need a sip
of water,
with ice.

Henry P Age 7

5 year olds at Westmere School


When you take a bite of watermelon,
does it dribble down your chin
Yes it does!
When I take bite of watermelon
I spit out the seeds!

Ella 5


I do not like egg
It tastes yukky.
(But I like eggs in cakes…)

Orli 5


My favourite food is bubblegum
I love bubblegum
because I like making bubbles.
You make bubbles
by chewing
and chewing
and chewing
then you

Charlie 5

and lastly, a couple of combined poem from Westmere 5 year olds ….


The jelly is like a frog, slimy.
The jelly looks like a cloud.
The jelly is slippery, slimy.
The jelly is as yummy as an ice cream and it is jiggly.
The jelly is really wriggly.
The jelly is as wobbly as santa’s hat.
The jelly is like a slippery mushy bubble.
The jelly is as wobbly as your shivering hands.
The jelly is as cold as the frozen strawberry.
The jelly is wriggly as a tickly hand.
The jelly is wobbly like a wriggly worm and I like it.
The jelly is jiggly jelly and it is shiny like the ocean because it is watery.
The jelly is cold like the north pole.
The jelly is as wobbly as Santa’s hat.
The jelly is cold and wobbly and it’s yummy.
The jiggly wiggly jelly is like a frog.
The jelly is as jiggly as a worm.
The jelly is like Santa’s hat and it is as wobbly as a penguin.
The jelly is like super slimy on my hand.

Even MORE tasty food poems


Red cherries in a tree,
Falling on top of me.
And I eat them up.
So delicious!
They come in twins,
And different shades of red.

Mia W Y5 age 9, Fendalton Open Air School

How to Live a Long Time


  • A birthday
  • Noodles (Ideally long)
  • Water
  • Jokes


  1. Wait until your birthday
  2. Go to a noodle shop or canteen
  3. Choose very thin and long noodles which symbolise long life
  4. Then tell funny jokes which make you live even longer
  5. Drink lots of water

Now you know how to live a long time, good luck!

Sam| 8 years old|Year 4| Russley School

Richmond School poems

I like pizza and lasagna.
I like tacos and macho nachos.
I like salt and vinegar chips with my fish.
I like pumpkin soup with bread in bed.
I like chicken drumsticks with sauce.
I eat them without pause.
When it’s halloween
I am a candy and chocolate eating machine.
When it’s Christmas time…
it’s always turkey with some gravy.

Theo M Age:10 Richmond Road School

Cotton Candy

Cotton candy
Twisty, twirly
Wispy, whirly.

Melts in my mouth.
Sugary sweet
My favourite candy,
I love to eat.
Like a pile of fluff
bundled up in a tuft.

Cotton candy
Twisty, twirly
Wispy, whirly.

Parker age 9 Richmond Rd School

Big Roast Beef

Its raining big roast beef today
How much beef ? It’s hard to say!

They plummet down, one by one ,
A Christmas treat! Oh what such fun!

Charlie M Age 9 Richmond Rd School

Churton Park School poems

Dear Broccoli,

You are my worst nightmare
I hate you so much
Every bite haunts me

If I were you I would pack your bags
And move to a different UNIVERSE.
All the different types of broccoli,
Fried, microwaved, cheesy and boiled

Do you get what I’m meaning NOW?
Do you understand?
I’ll say it one more time



Kate, 11, Churton Park School

Ode to Chip

Oh, lovely chip filled with joy
You make people happy every second of the day
You make people scrunch their face with your salty sensation
and you can come in different sizes
like big and small
Your obvious texture feels nice on your tongue
Crunchy and smooth we love them all soft or crunchy.

Jacob L Age 11 Churton Park School

Mac and cheese recipe

Melting in a pot!
Fake cheese fake cheese fake cheese
Melting in a pot!
Noodle noodle noodle
boiling in a pot!
bacon bacon bacon
sizzling in a pan!
Noodles noodles noodles
strained into the sink
cheesy sauce and bacon
being added to a bowl
mixing mixing mixing
mac and cheese in a bowl

Mya, 11, Year 6, Churton Park School

A Food Poem

Water tasting like salt and pepper
Noodles curling like long snakes
Tender red meat tasting like heaven
Fresh green leaves garnished around
A red hot chilli sitting all by itself

Pranavi, Year 6, Churton Park School, Wellington


Dear Lasagne,
Sticky layers of pasta roll across my tongue
Fleshy mince melts in my mouth
Cheesy paste explodes in my mouth like a volcano
A creamy smell of your sauce wafts into my delighted nose.
My stomach bulges as I take the last satisfying bite

Dylan age 11 Churton Park School


Sitting down at a birthday party, folding my legs.
I grab a small slice of cake.
I slowly bite into it,
I feel a light spongy mushy texture with a hint of sugar“
So delicious, freshly out of the oven so soft.
I enjoy every single bit of it, the sun shining on my face.

Courtney-Jane Age – 10 Year – 6, Churton Park School

Chocolate Fountain

A rippling cascade of chocolatey deliciousness
Coating a minuscule slice of crispy apple
Smothering a cube of almost sour kiwifruit
And hardening over a freshly skewered strawberry

The fountain bubbles slightly
But otherwise flows smoothly on top of a dipped banana
Making an archway underneath
And covering the sweet fruit with chocolate

As I bring one to my mouth
The molten chocolate dribbles onto the table,
Drips a bit
And starts to harden

Kyra, Age 1, Churton Park School

An extra feast of delicious poems

Watermelon haiku

of the pumpkin
of the pumpkin king
Under his cap
the watermelons’
pink room
In the quiet darkness
the moon shadows
the watermelon
From my tree-house
it rains watermelon seeds

Tom N, Y7, age 12, Christchurch South Intermediate

Christmas Dinner

I am cooking Christmas Dinner

it is the BEST thing that you will EVER taste

For the meat I am using turkey, deep fried

in coconut oil

with goat tongue and boar tripe

garnished with turtle eyes.

For the vegetables I am making

eggplant boiled in camomile and dandelion root tea,

topped with saffron strands.

For the sauce I am preparing,

whole puffer fish {spikes and all}

blended up in a food processor

along with lead,

from the pencil of my maths professor.

Cabbage mousse as well as

a light sprinkling of caviar,

whipped cream with mango,

from Portico

that’s the dessert.

Come and feed

but take heed

of never eating better

the Van Clan

Some more poems from Taikura Steiner School

happy summer holidays

Poetry Box September challenge: some favourite nature-activity poems

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!

The Poems


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

Little Things

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

Ginko walk

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

Whā Rima


Whitu Waru

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

a warning

COVID-19 poster

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

Tiny Things

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
Drifting past
Bossed by the wind

Cumulus Elephants
Chased by the wind
Blowing them back home

Stratus Lions
Disappearing with the wind
Prowling through the sky

Cumulonimbus Meerkats
Following the wind
Finding their babies

Phoebe, age 12, Selwyn House School

Patterns in Nature – Honeycomb

The yellow hexagon pattern
like honeycomb
Hidden away
In protecting plants
I listen for buzzing bees
But all I can hear is the loud rustle
Of the strong wind yelling
With force
At the poor, green trees

Genevye, age 9, Y6, Churton Park School

Garden Gazing

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
Murky to
Clean as air

Ivy, age 7, Ilam Primary School


Sunny day
colourful patterns
slice open the sky

Rainy day
dazzling patterns
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
poison barb
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,
Cracking apart.

Libby, age 7, Y3, Ilam School

Song of clouds

Puffed up like pastry,
Fluffy as whipped cream,
The candyfloss of the sky.

Sugary sweet
But not something to eat
The Earth’s fluffy white scarf

White, shining
Calming and luscious
Are clouds.

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

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
greedy cat.
I was once sleeping
when I woke up
my right hand was gone.
I knew that the beast
ate it.
He lives in a desert
as dry as 10,000
and grass as
cold as ice.

William, age 9, St Andrews School

The Rain

Wailing wind
High pitched squeaks
echoing from the pūkeko in the rain.
goes the fantail in the rain.
goes the cicada in the rain.
kiwi in the rain.
goes the black swan in the rain
Wailing wind

Lola H age 8 LS6 Westmere School

The Beast

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,
This furry,

Samantha P, Yr 8, Tai Tapu School


Crashing water
Calling water
Dripping water
Shouting water
Silly water
Small water
Giant water
Shaped water
Smelly water
Falling water
Fast water
Slow water
Flying water
Walking water
Jogging water
Running water
Ice water
Solid water
Hot water
Cold water
Gas water
Sea water
Salty water

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

Crash! Boom!
Lightning struck
And rain poured.
The noise was terrifying
And thunderous.
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

The Visitor

There is a mysterious trail
curving its way,
exploring LS3.
It crept around the chairs,
winding almost up to the big books basket!
It’s all jiggly and blobby
and the snail or slug,
slithered around
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.
Dust flying
Leaves shuffling
Bushes rustling
Action everywhere.
Puddles swish
Muddy mush
The wind’s gush
Just look.

Ameer, age 9, Y5, Ilam School

Small things

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

Perfect Pebble

In a mystery of boulders

Sits a tiny pebble

Hidden in the shadows

Of towering rocks

Desperate to be noticed

Perfectly round

Slivers of shimmer

Bright grey

Contrasting the immense greystone

I wonder if that pebble will grow

Daniel L Year 7, Age 12 Hadlow School

Poetry Box September challenge: Nature Activity Poems

The Nature Activity Book, Rachel Haydon and Pippa Keel, Te Papa Press

I recently sang the praises of the extremely wonderful The Nature Activity Book on Poetry Box and said it filled me with a galaxy of poem ideas.

Elephant Sand

The grey sand at Te Henga beach

wrinkles and crumples

like elephant skin.

I listen for trumpets and rumbles,

but all I hear is the sweet cheep

of the scuttery dotterel.

Paula Green (inspired by Patterns in Nature)

So for September I am creating some poem challenges based on ideas in the book. You can pick one or more. Thanks to Te Papa Press I have up to four books to give away to young poets whose writing really catches my attention.

I suggest you don’t send your poems / artwork the day you write but wait for a week and see if you’d like to change anything. I think part of being a writer is letting things simmer and then seeing how the flavours change in a few days time.

The tip for these challenges is to GO OUTSIDE and explore, using all your senses, rather than imagining. This is when science and poetry join hands and you use words to show what you discover as a nature explorer. Two challenges get you to use your IMAGINATION.

You might like to do a drawing, comic strip or painting to go with your poem.

I will read all your poems at the end of the month and write a letter back to you.

DEADLINE: 28th September

The Challenges

Sound scavenging

Find a place to sit and scavenge for sounds. It might be in your garden, a park, a paddock, in the bush or when you go the beach.

Write down all the sounds you can hear.

Beside each sound find words to describe the sound, what it reminds you of.

Now use your sound collection to make a poem. The sound will help the place where you are sitting come alive in the poem.

Patterns in nature

Nature is full of glorious patterns.

I love walking on the beach and hunting for patterns (see my elephant poem).

You can find patterns on leaves, insects, animals, honeycomb, sand, bark, plants, shells, spiders webs.

Find a pattern in nature that fascinates you.

Jot down words as you look and discover.

Try writing a little poem that explores the pattern.

Little things

Hunt for some little objects. You might like to study them with a magnifying glass.

You could hunt for tiny seeds, marbles, nuts, flowers, pebbles, grass blades …

Beside each object jot down what you see and what you feel when you touch it.

Look at the colours, patterns, shapes, textures.

You might go hunting for similes.

How many words can you jot down beside each thing.

Now use your discoveries to write a poem.

It might be about one object or several. Over to you!

Listen to your poem.

Underline the words that shine on the line.

Mythical habitats

A habitat is the place where an animal lives in nature.

This is a chance to use your IMAGINATION!

Make up a habitat for an imaginary creature.

Jot down what the habitat looks like. You could even sketch it to help picture it.

What plants, animals, water, weather might you find? What is the land like?

If you shut your eyes what would you hear?

What movement do you see?

Now use your imagination to write a poem about your habitat.

Your poem might tell a story.

It might be like a photo of the place.

Mythical beasts

Stories are treasure troves of mythical beasts: think of dragons and phoenixes, griffins, yetis and unicorns.

Invent your own mythical beast. You might like to draw it to help picture it.

Jot down ideas before you write your poem.

Think about eyes, ears, skin, legs, tails, feathers, fur, scales, noses.

Does it have any special features?

Find words to show how it moves, the sounds it makes.

Where does it live? Sleep?

What does it eat? Do during the day or the night?

Now choose what you put in your poem.

Listen to how your poem flows.

Will it tell a story?

Will it create a picture of the animal?

Birds and beaks

For this challenge you need to do some research – either in books, online or outside.

Make a set of sketches of the beaks of birds.

What do you discover?

Why do they look different?

What do they have to do?

Make some notes for each beak.

Now write a bird beak poem.

Hunt for similes and verbs.

Hunt for words to show shape, texture, colour.

Listen to your poem before you send it to me.

Watching kapua

I love watching kapua, the clouds in the sky.

Find a good cloud-watching spot and make a list of what you see.

Jot down what the cloud looks like.

Can you find out what kinds of clouds they are – the English or te reo words?

What facts can you discover about the type of cloud you see?

Poets have always loved writing about clouds.

Write a cloud poem that uses what you see and maybe what you have researched.

You don’t have to include everything.

Try writing a longer cloud poem.

Try writing a small poem about one type of cloud.

Listen to how your poem flows.

Which words add to the cloud picture?


INCLUDE: your name, age, year, school

IMPORTANT: Put Nature Activity Poem in subject line so I don’t miss your email

DEADLINE: September

I will reply to all letters at the end of the month, pick some poems to post early October and have four books to give away thanks to Te Papa Press.

Poetry Box June challenge: writing wonder poems



Lost Wonders: Vanished Creatures of Aotearoa Sarah Ell, illustrated by Phoebe Morris, Allen & Unwin 2020



A few weeks ago I hosted the online launch of  Lost Wonders. To celebrate I invited you to write some poems on the lost wonders of Aotearoa. Daniel sent in this fabulous poem. Thanks to Allen & Unwin, he was sent a copy of the book!



The Haast Eagle


It’s wingspan causes wonders

Like a p-terrifying pterodactyl

It’s talons cut like butcher’s knife

Through firm leathery skin

The moa cannot survive

But in a twist of fate

The eagle extinguishes it’s own flame

As without the moa

The Haast Eagle cannot survive


As I wander through the native bush now

I’m a little glad those things are no longer alive


Daniel L, Age11, Year 7, Hadlow School


I got to thinking about how wonder is such a good ingredient for a poem. So I am challenging you to use wonder as the stepping off point for a poem.


Sky High

Imagine building a Lego

tower so high spiders crawl

to the very top to make

webs that float like clouds.


Paula Green




You could write about a lost wonder of Aotearoa.

You could write about a lost wonder of the world.

You could wonder about something that puzzles you in your poem.

You could wonder about something that surprises you in your poem.

You could wonder about something that challenges you in your poem.

You could begin with a question and get wondering.

You could write about something you have seen or heard that fills you with wonder.

You could write about one of the seven wonders of the world.


You are welcome to include an illustration.

With permission from a parent you are welcome to send an audio (MP3 or MP4)  or video (YouTube link or Vimeo)


I think wonder in a poem is a bit like wandering – I sometimes wander and a poem slowly forms in my head. That happens when I write too. I don’t know what is going to happen next. I love the way a poem can be a way of discovering.


TIP: Listen to your poem when you have finished it.

TIP: Leave your poem for at least a day and see what you would like to change.

TIP: Try three different endings -which is your favourite

TIP: Do the same with beginnings.

TIP: Have fun!


DEADLINE: Friday 26th June

send to

please include your name age and name of school

don’t forget to put WONDER challenge in subject line so I don’t miss it

don’t put your surname on drawings or paintings or collages (Poetry Box policy)


I will post on June 30th and will have at least one book to give away (this is not a competition, I just like giving books away). I answer your emails at the end of the month.


kia kaha

keep well

keep imagining




Poetry Shelf bubble time: watch my ocean video and try my challenge




This is Bethells Beach, Te Henga, where I can now drive to early in the morning. Usually there are hardly any people at that time, but now there are a few surfers, runners, dog walkers, strollers, daydreamers, super-fast walkers … and loads of shore birds. There is heaps of room. I often get ideas when I am walking. They roll about in my head like little waves.


Today I invite you to watch the video (under 2 minutes!). I have at least one book to give away.


Jot down everything that pops into your head as you watch the ocean.

Use your eyes and ears!

Choose one thing you have written down as a SPRINGBOARD to a poem.

Play with how the words RIPPLE on the line.

Play with how the lines LOOK on the page.

Say your poem out loud and listen to the movement of the words.




After a few days (or one day) write a new version of the poem. Add something new into the poem.

It might be from the list of things you jotted down.

It might be something surprising!

It might be your own beach memory.

It might be someone doing something.

It might be a bird doing something.

You might hear something different.

It might be something surprising you spot in the sand.


This is poem 2


Make sure you give the poems titles. You can illustrate them. You could use coloured pencils, crayons, felt pens, paint.



send to

please include your name age and name of school

don’t forget to put NAME OF challenge in subject line so I don’t miss it

don’t put your surname on drawings or paintings or collages (Poetry Box policy)


There is no deadline while we are living in our bubbles! Every Friday I will post some work by children.

I will always answer your emails but not straightaway. If I haven’t replied after 3 or 4 days nudge me as I may have missed it.

I will have at least one book to give away each Friday.



You can also try these Poetry Box activities. Click on links below:


Read Richard Langston’s lighthouse and tree poems and write as though you are something /someone else.

Listen to Paula read her cats poems and offer cat and things-that-wake-you-in-night activities

Listen to Elena de Roo’s BIRD poems and try my Bird challenge

Tell about a book you have loved in bubble time.

Richard Langston reads his red poem with colour activities

Sacha Cotter and Josh Morgan’s magnificent videos and The Bomb activities

write or draw something for your favourite library or bookshop

Listen to Ashley (8) read: try my dinosaur, pets and swip swap challenges

Have fun with SOUNDS, muck around with WORDS

Listen to Amelia (8) read 3 poems from The Treasury and try my activities

Listen to Philippa Werry read her poem and try her simile challenge

Make a memory album or page

Try my lost-wonder challenges and listen Sarah Ell’s new book Lost Wonders!

Loads of MAKING ideas inside and outside

Do something rainy or snowy! Watch me read my rain and cold poems from The Letterbox Cat

Listen to Melinda Szymanik read her alien mother story and try your own

Send me pictures, photos or poems of curious things you see on your walks

Listen to Maisie and I read fish poems and invite you to do fishy things

Listen to my unpublished very very very strange tail story and do some illustrations for it or invent your own strange tail!

Try writing a postcard poem from where you’d like to be!

Mixed up animals and hear Paula read ‘Anifables’ poem

Sally Sutton’s magic hat challenge

Celebrate your hero and listen to Barbara Else read

Tell me about your favourite bookshop or library

Try my Pass the Poem challenge with friends and family by phone or email

Write draw video comic strip letters poems stories about being in your bubble

My cloudy challenges and hear my cloud poem

My thank our supermarket workers challenge

Listen to me read Aunt Concertina and offer a cool challenge

Listen to me read my poem ‘Lick Lick Riff’ dog poem and offer a doggy cat tiger bat any animal challenge

Check out David Hill’s wonderful photo challenge

Listen to Swapna Haddow read her book and try a rabbit challenge

Try Johanna Aitchison’s hunt the teddy challenges

Ruth Paul reads her muddy poem and I offer muddy challenges


kia kaha

keep well

keep imagining