Tag Archives: Poetry box challenge

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

SEND TO: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

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 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?

SEND TO: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

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  paulajoygreen@gmail.com

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 Box has woken up: a March challenge


Charlie, our dear Molly and Agile (they are all in The Letterbox Cat!)


I read a lot of books over summer of all shapes and sizes. I did a lot of dreaming and thinking about what I will write next (big secret of course). I also imagined what we might do on Poetry Box this year! I wrote this summer poem just for you:



Summer postcard

The birds ate my plump red tomatoes

maybe because of the Auckland drought.

It is thirsty weather.


We have big cracks in the lawn

filled with armies of ants

kererū crashing through the tī kōuka

tūī singing like opera divas

stick insects clinging to the door frame

spiders filling our house with webs

the cats going walkabout in the shady bush.


I spent my whole summer at home.

We said goodbye to our old dog Molly.

We covered the tomatoes in bird netting.



The March challenge


I would love to post some summer-postcard poems from you.

  • collect summery words
  • collect summery things
  • think of one experience that really stood out for you
  • listen to every line as you write it
  • find fresh similes
  • your poem can be long or short
  • try not to send the day you write it
  • leave it to simmer for a few days and then read again
  • read it to a friend or family member
  • do an illustration to go with it
  • use any title you like



Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Deadline: 27th March

Include: your name, age, year, name of school

Don’t forget to write SUMMER POSTCARD POEM in the subject line

I will read your emails and reply to you all at the end of March.

I will post some favourites on March 31st (or thereabouts) and have a least one book to send out.







Poetry Box October challenge: Happy poems!



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When I read poems I feel all kinds of things -some poems make me puzzle and ponder, some poems make me laugh or feel sad and some poems make me happy. I especially love it when poetry makes me happy. It might be what the poem is but often it is how the poem is written. I feel happy because I am reading a poem that gives me goosebumps.

I have given you two different choices for happy poems.



For Groovy Fish Maia gave me this title: The Shabby Dinosaur

I decided my dinosaur was going to be happy. I said that right in the first line. I invented an image of the dinosaur and then I decided he was as full as bull with happiness. I went hunting in my imagination for things that made him happy.



The Shabby Dinosaur

for Maia


The shabby dinosaur is happy.

He lives on the verandah

with a cat named Lucinda,

a mouse named Clover

and a flea called Bea.


The shabby dinosaur sleeps on

a beaded waistcoat

that is old and tatty,

purple socks with

pink spots and holes,

and a straw hat matty

with dandelions and bows.


The shabby dinosaur sits

for hours in the bright

summer sun breathing in happy

thoughts of rollerblading

hammock dozing

finger painting

guitar picking

and frozen ice blocks

until he is as full

as a bull

with happiness.


Paula Green from Groovy Fish and other poems Makāro Press, 2019


Your challenge is to write a poem that makes you happy.


It might be a poem like mine about things that make someone or something happy:


You could write a poem about what makes


or someone in your family

or your pet

or an imagined animal

full as a bull with happiness.




You might do what I also do and write a poem about something that makes YOU HAPPY without 

ever mentioning the word happy. You might write about a bird or your cat or the moon or an old kauri tree or eating pizza or climbing a tree or watching the ocean or the sun go down. Anything you like!!!!


Here is another poem from Groovy Fish that makes me happy because one summer I slept in a tree house and because our daughters had a tree house in a macrocarpa tree. Holly gave me the title.


The Tree House

for Holly



in a tree house

at dusk

and wait

for stars

in the black coal






in a tree house

at dawn

and sing

with birds

in the pink paper



Paula Green from Groovy Fish and other poems Makāro Press, 2019


Top tips

Don’t send your poem the day your write it!!!

Listen to your poem and hear which bits sound good.

Is there a word you need to change?

Do a test pot for the ending – try 3 to 5 – pick your favourite.

Try three titles  – pick your favourite.


Deadline: 29th October

Include: your name, age, year and name of school

Don’t forget to put happy poem in subject line so I don’t MISS your email.

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Some favourite poems: I read all your emails at the end of the month and will post some favourites on 31st October. I will have at least one book to give away but it is a challenge not a competition.


Have fun writing poems!!

Poetry Box September challenge: fable poems


Since I was little I have loved reading fables and even making up fables.

I also like the way poets have been rewriting fairy tales to show a modern twist – especially when they make girls stronger and smarter.

Your challenge this month is to write a fable poem or a fairy-tale poem.

You can update one from the past and make it fresh and surprising or you can make up one of your own. Or you tell an old favourite in a poem and stick to the original.

Fables often have a secret little messages – like little lessons on how to be good humans. Like how to be a good friend or what happens if you are greedy or aggressive or mean!


Top tips!

Listen to what you write to spot lines you stumble on.

Build the scene with some strong detail (nouns and verbs help).

Test out three different endings.

Play with how many words on the line.

Save for a few days before you send it to me.


Deadline: 26th September

Include: your name, age, year and name of school

Don’t forget to put fable poem in subject line so I don’t MISS your email.

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Some favourite poems: I read all your emails at the end of the month and will post some favourites on 30th Sept. I will have at least one book to give away but it is a challenge not a competition.

Poetry Box April challenge: a celebration of food




Pop’s Garden


out of my big green

back garden I pluck

little red tomatoes

sweet explosions

and I think of my Pop

and his tomato rich

greenhouse the berries

and the lettuces

we picked for lunch

and our secret walk

to the diary to get

an ice cream cone

that dribbled

onto my gardening

knees and shiny shoes


Paula Green




The past weeks have been weeks of such sadness and pain as we come together to mourn those who died in Christchurch’s terrorist attacks.

We have come together, listened, laid flowers, prayed, sang songs, reflected.

As a nation we are thinking hard about what happened in Christchurch, and what has happened in the past, and how to be a country that is tolerant, loving, kind and caring. We use the word solidarity because we are making a chain of hands that will be strong and welcoming.

Many of us were born in New Zealand Aotearoa but many of our grandparents and our great-grandparents and our ancestors were not. Some New Zealanders are new arrivals who have come from places of terrible suffering.

Our openness and our kindness will be our strength. Our willingness to welcome our different ways of dressing, our different food, our different religions. Because humanity will hold us together. Our Muslim communities are showing us the way. With such compassion and forgiveness and warmth.

The past few weeks have filled me with such hope that we will continue to stand up against racism, violence and needless suffering with our joined aroha.


I have thought and thought about what to set you as a poetry challenge. Because in tough times, when we feel helpless and lost for words, it can be hard to write. But it can also be good to write.


I have decided to host a celebration of food poetry in April.

Food is so important.


April will be a time to share our food memories, the food our families make, the food we love, the food that sets our taste buds tingling, the food we grow, the food of our cultures, food experiences, the way food connects us to those we love (like my Pop).

Let us show we are made of many foods, many memories, many shared tables, many harvests.

I will write back to all young poets after my deadline.



start by gathering a feast of words and then play with them (can you get 50?)

how many words will you put on line? Play with this.

which word do you like on the END of the line? Play!

try three endings and pick your favourite.



Deadline: 26th April

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Please include: your name, age, year, name of school

Don’t forget to put FOOD POEM in subject line so I don’t miss your email.

Open to Year 0 to Year 8 in Aotearoa.

I will write letters back at the end of the month.

I will have a book or two to give away.



A cabbage poem

My nana would boil cabbage to billy-OH

I slice it into thin threads with apple spears

and chive confetti and spring onion rings

a peppery dressing and I’m set to GO!

Paula Green


Remember my blog is all about the joy of writing and reading poetry – and setting you challenges! Here are some I am running in all year. Email me if you want to do one and want tips on what top do next. I will email you back asap!


Review a poetry book

Interview a NZ children’s author

Write a letter to a NZ children’s author

Write a letter to a poet from anywhere and any time ( I will give tips)

Show a cool class poetry exercise with poems you have done (from a child or from teacher and class)















Poetry Box October tree poem challenge


Tāne Mahuta, the giant kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest, Northland


I love reading poems with trees in them. I love looking at the trees out side and we have a lot because we live in a big clearing in the bush in the country. We can see the tail end of the Waitākere Ranges from our place. We don’t go into the ranges now because we want to give the kauri the best possible chance to survive.

I have set a tree poem challenge for October – and you still have time! So here is a refresh for you after the holidays!

I don’t read the poems and your letters until the end of the month and then I always reply!


Some tips

It might be a New Zealand native tree you especially love.

You might go out and take a photo or do a drawing that you send with your poem.

Your poem might bring the tree to life with strong detail

or it might tell a tree story

or a tree memory you have

or a concern you have.

Use your eyes to hunt for fascinating things.

Use your imagination to hunt for fresh similes.

You might like to play with how you set your poem out.


Send to: paulajoygreen@google.com

Deadline: Friday October 28th

Please include: your name, age, year and name of school

So I don’t miss it: Put tree poem in subject line

Poetry Box October challenge: tree poems

you might also like to check out my popUP holiday poetry challenge




My daughter drove up north to see Tāne Mahuta, the giant kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest. I saw it a number of times when I was little and it seemed so ancient and so precious. Now our kauri trees are under threat. I live next to the Waitakere Ranges wher large parts of the bush have been closed off. I live on land that is regenerating bush, slowly and wonderfully. I feel like I can touch the ranges from my deck.

October is the month where Poetry Box will celebrate New Zealand/ Aotearoa native trees by writing poems. I am excited about this because I love trees.


Some tips

It might be a New Zealand native tree you especially love.

You might go out and take a photo or do a drawing that you send with your poem.

Your poem might bring the tree to life with strong detail

or it might tell a tree story

or a tree memory you have

or a concern you have.

Use your eyes to hunt for fascinating things.

Use your imagination to hunt for fresh similes.

You might like to play with how you set your poem out.


Send to: paulajoygreen@google.com

Deadline: Friday October 28th

Please include: your name, age, year and name of school

So I don’t miss it: Put tree poem in subject line


I will post favourites around about October 31st and while this is not a competition I will have a book for at least one writer.


IMG_4407.JPGIMG_4387 2.jpg

Looking towards the Waitākere Ranges down

through our bush. And our tamarillo tree.





Some favourite poems from the talking-with-whanau challenge





For September I asked you to talk to members of your family and use some of their memories to write a poem.

I suggested you get their permission to use the memory and perhaps even show them the poem when you had finished it.

I wondered what would happen when you used a memory instead of reading about the past in a book or online or using your imagination to write of long ago times or events.

I am sending a book to Tom.


First up is a poem album from Tom  (age 10, Year 5, Hoon Hay School / Te Kura Koaka). I loved the way he talked with his family to get these memories. Imagine – you could make a little poem album and give it to your mum or day as a present!


Grand-mum mistakes

She was making hot dogs.
The saveloys were boiling.
Their skins soft and red
like paper.
The batter so bubbly
it nearly exploded.
She drained the saveloys
and slid an ice-block stick
inside each one.
She dipped them into the batter
until they wore yellow crunchy, crispy coats.

She had forgotten
the claws of heat
reaching through
the steel circles
of stove-top elements.
She had forgotten
the plastic
tomato-sauce bottle
resting there.

By the time she snatched
the bottle the bottom
had melted and stuck
to the stove.
The handle hot in her hand.
The sauce a free red river.

Dad the ice-cream thief

One winter night,
Uncle Craig woke to hear
the fridge door creak open.
He tip-toed to the kitchen
with his detective torch,
to find his older brother Glenn
sitting at the table
with a bowl
full of vanilla ice-cream,
eating as fast as the wind.

Dolphin surprise

Dad was in Akaroa harbour
helping his brother
get set up to water ski.
Just as the launch
pulled away from the wharf,
a Hectors dolphin
rose out of the water,
as if to say “hello” to dad,
and disappeared again,
as quickly as thunder.

Aunty Michelle’s water crash

At Tekapo, Aunty Michelle
was in the water biscuit
with her feet hanging
over the front side.
Dad was driving the boat.
Aunty Michelle wanted to go slow,
Uncle Craig wanted to go faster.
Dad drove faster.
Aunty Michelle flew like
she was on a trampoline
into the sea.
Uncle Craig jumped in to save her.



and now more poems from young New Zealand poets:



My Dad’s Pet Ram

My Dad’s lamb
It grew into a big ram.
Whenever somebody came
Into his paddock
He rushed and bashed them over.
When it was pet day
He bent the fence.

Lucy Age: 7  St Andrews College, Christchurch


My Grandad in the Olden Days

Hopscotch and hide and seek
Try not to take a peek
Oh and climbing trees
Please don’t break your knees
Jump rope oh jump rope
Don’t do it on any slope
Now back to hopscotch
Try it while eating butterscotch
Georgie, 9, Selwyn House School, Christchurch



Were the good old days really the good old days?

Once my grandfather got the cane.
The way he got it was insane,
He put a cat in his desk, which ended up with pain.
My great great uncle was in World War 2.
Above the skies was where he flew.
His plane got shot and fell to the ground
But landed in the water and he drowned.
My grandmother said the worst bit was bath time.
She said it was like lying in dirty slime.
When she went in she went in she tried to grin,
But you came out dirtier than when you went in.
So are the good old days really that good?
If they are, look back at your grandparents’ childhood.

Mahe  Age 10 Westmere school LS8


My dad, his friends
Looking for a seat outside.
The seat was wet,
they decided to move to a different spot.
Shaking started. Loud cracks.
Big boom. The building crumbled.
Bricks fell on the wet table. My dad,
His friends fell off
Their seats. My dad,
His friends saved
By the rain.

Aurora, 9 years old, Selwyn House School


My Dad’s Memories

My dad was born during the 6 days war in a bomb shelter (which makes sense). Guns fired,
bombs dropped,
cannons reloading –
it was a horrible war.

Ameer,  7 years old, Year 3, Ilam School in Christchurch


The School Run

White clouds softly rise above the sodden paddock

In two paces my shoes shine as my toes inside them freeze

Toby looks up

It’s my job to catch him as no one else can

Toby knows my secret

Snaffling through my warm, soggy, porridge pockets


I launch myself onto his back

Whistling for the others

Scraping the mud and hair off my satchel

One brother, two brother, one sister, three brother

All aboard

And off to school.


Gemma, Year 8, age 12, Adventure School



Grandma and The Go-cart

Getting in the go-cart,

Go grandma go!

Big brothers pushing,

Go grandma go!

Looking down the steep street,

Go grandma go!

Rolling slowly,

Gaining speed,                            Now a zooming blur,

No brakes… bad mistake,

Go grandma go!

Neighbours fence coming closer, NO GRANDMA




Daniel, Age 10, Year 5, Adventure School


My Dad as a Boy Waiter

Slowly stepping
Placing plates
Piling dishes high
Bringing napkins.

By Estelle, age 7, St Andrews College Prep School


The Peacemaker

Standing with no fear.
Guns all around.
Speaking his thoughts
to save the innocent
and save the soldiers.
Travelling the world,
just to save lives.
Risking his own
to save many more.
Flying his own planes
to the smaller wars of the world.
This is my father’s life
as a peacemaker.

Laura Age: 10 Selwyn House School



Maybe there was German blood running through his veins,
Maybe his horse didn’t stop when he pulled the reins.
Maybe there was a fight between him and his friend,
Maybe my great grandfather’s friendship was too hard to mend.
Maybe it was all too hard, as hard as trying to hide from war
Maybe this story says much, much more.
Maybe it is more than what meets the eye,
Maybe his friend was a good, good guy.

Sophie Age: 11 Year 7 School: Selwyn House School