Tag Archives: memory poems

Poetry Box bubble time: making a memory album or memory page




This is me with my soft toy and a butterfly bow in my hair. I can’t remember the soft toy. Is it a rabbit? What is it called? I will have to write a wee poem about it!



Sometimes I write poems that are based on a memory. I remember something from the past and I switch it into a poem.

Sometime I use objects / things to JUMP START a memory.

I was thinking it would be very cool to make an album of memories of when we were younger. Or even just a page.



A Memory Album


1. write down as many objects and things as you can in 3 minutes. They can be as big as the sky or as small as a pin. They can be alive (like a cat or a dog, inside the house (like a chair or a sock or a teddy or a book) or outside the house (like a tree or a river or sand or a ball).

2. look at all the words and see which one JUMP STARTS a memory.

3. switch your memory into a poem, a little story, a drawing, a painting, a collage, a comic, an audio, a video

4 see how many memories you can jump start and gather into an album

5 send me photos or scans of the pages or the poems or audios or videos

6 I will have at least one book to give away



Another Memory Album


1 jot down some of your favourite memories of when you were younger

2 they might be funny happy strange mysterious beautiful! Anything!

3 choose one to start on for your album or memory page and switch it into a poem, a little story, a drawing, a painting, a collage, a comic, an audio, a video

4 see how many memories you can jump start and gather into an album

5 send me photos or scans of the pages or the poems or audios or videos

6 I will have at least one book to give away



Here is where you send things

send to  paulajoygreen@gmail.com

please include your name age and name of school

don’t forget to put MEMORY challenge in subject line so I don’t miss it or name of challenge

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 pop-up mystery giveaways every Friday when I post your work. See the list below!).



Here is what you can choose from so far:


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

Play Pass the Poem with at least one other person

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




Ewen has taken up Bill Manhire’s memory challenge

Ewen from Fendalton Open Air School in Christchurch has taken up Bill Manhire’s idea for a poem. I thought it was a fun idea and the poems could go in all kinds of ways just like our imagination can. Ewen had fun writing this I can tell as her imagination took off. I like the way her poem takes us around the world and she has an ending that is a bit of a puzzle.

Great job Eewn, thanks for sending it to me. I really liked it!

I also love the way Poetry Box readers go back through my blogs hunting out challenges to do. It is never too late to send in poems for these!


Hello Paula,

This is the poem I wrote for Bill’s Challenge that you set in April.

It is the challenge that says that you: Write a poem where every line begins with the words “I remember”, but every memory is made-up.



I remember sighting a pack of dinosaurs storming on the dry land

I remember feeling a vicious red-bellied piranha bite at my toes

I remember catching a glimpse of  the Loch Ness monster during my visit to Scotland

I remember being blown away by a tornado in Oklahoma City

I remember gazing up to find the Pegasus flying above my head

I remember seeing the untrue become true.


Ewen aged 10, Year 6, Fendalton Open Air Primary School


Pick a t h i n g for Paula’s poem on Poetry Box

I am so busy thinking up challenges for all you terrific young New Zealand poets I thought it was time for you to set me a challenge.

Remember yesterday I wrote a list of things for you to hunt for memories in, and then turn that thing/memory into a poem?

Well, today I challenge you to send me a list of things (say about 10) and I will try and write a poem with at least one of them in it. I might even try putting 2 or 3 of the things in.

Send your list to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year and name of school. You can include your teacher’s name and email if you like.

This Week on NZ Poetry Box and Cats, Cups & Old Socks

Ata marie! I have spent all weekend reading your poems and then reading them again. What joy! You now have the memory-poem competition to work on so I am very excited to see how you go with that challenge. Today I will give you some tips on writing memory poems that have things in them. On Tuesday I will do another memory poetry play (you are going to help me write a poem!), on Wednesday I will tell you about a poetry book on my shelf I love, on Thursday I will share a memory poem with you, and on Friday I will give you some tips on how to use punctuation in poems.

Poets love to put things in poems: cats, cups, old socks, cracked footpaths, trees begging to be climbed, squeaky whistles, shiny windows, Japanese kites.

When you put a thing in a poem it lets the poem steal a bit of the real world and makes pictures grow.

When you put a thing in a poem it can help build a mood or a feeling or an idea.

When you put a thing in a poem it can muster up a memory for you and for the reader (different memories of course)!

Try hunting for a thing to put in a poem. It might something at your Nana and Granddad’s place that you remember. Imagine you are looking in their house with your camera — what will you take a photo of? What thing do you like there?

It might be a thing you remember from a place you have visited (the zoo, the park, another city, someone else’s house, another country, the beach, the bush, the sports field).

It might be a thing you liked to play with when you were little (I remember a yellow puppet called Sooty).

It might be a thing you remember from when you first started school (I remember the windows at my first school; they were so high I couldn’t see out of them!).

It might be something you remember used to be on a teacher’s desk.

A poetry memory game: you (or someone) can make a list of things and then see if you can find a memory in one of them. Use that memory to write a poem.

shoes        apple     teddy     car     door     mud     clock    cheese

pot     fence     chair    torch   bucket    ladder   train    steps    ball


If you try any of the memory poems in this post send one to me at paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year and name of school. You can include your teacher’s name and email if you like.















Poetry Play is Going Backwards

Now that we are in the mood for memory poems I have thought of a mini challenge for you all!

Some of you are busy talking to older people so you can find a memory for a poem.

But what about you? Sometimes when I have visited schools I have asked students to think back to early memories. Think back to before you started school. What can you remember?

What is your earliest memory? You could do this if you are in Year 2 or Year 8 and anywhere in between!

Find one of your earliest memories.
Make a list of words about it. See how many words you can find.
Sounds? Weather? Things? Details?

You don’t have to write it all.

Play with the words on the line.

Listen to how each word and each line sounds.

Give your poem a title.

Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age year and name of school. You can include the name of your teacher and email address if you like.

memory is poemagic: tips and starting points

I am very excited about this challenge.

Now that you are on the hunt for a childhood memory of your grandparent or parent here are some ideas to help you search:

Ask some of these questions to help find the memory for your poem.

Did you ever see anything that got in the newspaper or on tv?
Did you ever see anyone famous?
What was different when you were little? At school or at home? Food? Transport? Toys? After school time? Holidays? Clothes?
Did anything funny ever happen to you? Or strange? Or exciting? Or scary? Or kind?

Sometimes the best memories are very ordinary. I loved talking to Great Nana about her life as a girl. I think the memories of old people are like little treasures and poems are a great way to keep them safe.

Some tips for memory poems:

Stick to one memory.
Or make a list poem of all the things that were different.
Put real things in your poem to make it come alive.
Hunt for things you see or hear or smell.
You don’t have to fit everything in.
Your poem might flow like a conversation. The words might match the way you talk.
Your poem might flow like a little story.
Find words that shine on the line.
Use some of your Nana’s (or Granddad’s) words in the poem.
How many words will you put on the line?

This Week on NZ Poetry Box: Remember when Nana and Granddad


Last week I read a wonderful book which made me change what I was going to do on Poetry Box this week. I read A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik (Scholastic 2013) and got caught up in another time. Melinda wrote the story of her father and his family when he was twelve. They had been forced to leave Poland and go and work in a Russian labour camp round about the time World War II was starting. They had to leave behind almost everything and live in a place that was tough, freezing and had hardly any food. Melinda used her father’s notebooks to help write the story. I loved the way this children’s novel opened a window wider on time when terrible things were happening in the world (unfortunately they still are).

So I thought it would be really great to set a challenge that involved two things: memory and our grandparents or our parents. It is time to go hunting for their memories and turn them into little poems (see below).

This week on NZ Poetry Box it’s all about memory. On Monday I will set you a memory challenge, on Tuesday I will give you some sizzling memory-poem tips and starting points, on Wednesday it is time for poetry play so we will think backwards, on Thursday I am posting an interview with one of my favourite children’s poets, Peter Bland, and on Friday I want to play with CAPITAL letters.

The Poetry Challenge:   

I challenge you to ask an older relation (Mum or Dad or Nana or Granddad) about a memory they have from their childhood. It might be something that happened to them and it might be funny or sad or exciting or interesting. It might be a memory that shows how things were different when they were young. This challenge can come through a school, a writing group or an individual child. I am excited!

It might help to write down words as your relative shares their memory. You could visit them or telephone them or write them a letter or email them. You might have to ask them questions to get them to talk more about their memory.

You have until June 13th (nearly three weeks) to do this challenge, because I am really excited about it (I want to do this challenge!)!

I will give you tips, and starting points during the week (especially tomorrow.

Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year and name of school. You can include your teacher’s name and email address if you like. This is of course also open to home-schooled children.

There are two prizes. An older child (up to Year 8 or 9) will get a copy of A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik published by Scholastic NZ in 2013.

A younger child will get a copy of The Song of the Ship Rat (2013) by the fabulous Ben Brown and Helen Taylor thanks to Scholastic NZ. This book, with Helen’s gorgeous illustrations and Ben’s sizzling words, is full of the memories of a rat at sea.