Tag Archives: Poetry box challenge

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



Poetry Box September challenge: going back in time by talking to whanau





My mum and her brothers walked

for country miles to school, with hand-knitted hats,

and imaginations jumping through clean streams,


bright red apples from the orchard, nana’s baking,

home-packed lunches and the highest trees to climb.


This month I challenge you to write poems that step off from family stories.

I have divided the challenge into four parts.



One: Talking with your whanau

This challenge will take a little longer.

Sometimes poems do take a little longer to do.

I want you to travel back in time by talking to someone in your whanau who is way older than you (your mum, dad, gran, grandad, caregiver).

Ask them to share a childhood memory. You will have to ask questions to build a picture of the memory. Collect words.

Can you collect details of the place and the people and things that were different than they are now?

Ask them if it is okay for you to use this memory in a poem.


Two: Writing the poem

You can write a long poem or short poem or both.

You can play with how many words on the line.

You will need to listen to the sound of the line as you write.

Details will make the poem STRONG!

Can you show things you discovered from another time?

Your poem might not say as much as a story might.


Three: Getting permission

Because you have borrowed someone else’s memory you might like to show them your poem before you send it to me. But this is over to you.


Four: Sending the poem

Send to: paulajoygreen@xtra.co.nz

Deadline: Wednesday September 26th

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

So I don’t miss it: Put whanau memory in subject line


I will post favourites around about September 30th and while this is not a competition I will have a book for at least one writer.






Poetry Box August challenge: playing with nursery rhymes


The wonderful poet Glenn Colquhoun had fun making up a nursery rhyme. You can listen to it here.

So I thought it would be fun to write poems that play with nursery rhymes.


They can be long or short.

They can rhyme or not rhyme.

They can use the nursery rhyme we know and love but with different words.

They can take a nursery-rhyme character and invent a new story.

They might change the beginning or the ending.

They can make the nursery rhyme take place in New Zealand.

They be funny or surprising or have a hidden message.

You might be in it! Or someone you know.

You might do a nursery-rhyme mash up. More than one in the mix!


h a v e    n u r s e r y  r h y m e   F  U  N


Deadline: August 28th

Include: your name, age, year and school

Open to: Year 1 to Year 8

Please put Nursery rhyme challenge in email subject line so I don’t MISS it

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com


I will post some favourites on August 31st and have a book for at least one poet

Poetry Box July challenge – a bedazzle of butterflies






‘Some butterflies are see-through

with wings like panes of glass’


from  Secret World of Butterflies by Courtney Sina Meredith and Giselle Clarkson

(Allen & Unwin 2018)



This month I am using the most beautiful butterfly book as the starting point for your challenge.

If you live in Auckland you might be able to go and see the butterfly exhibition at Auckland Museum. Or you might be able to track down this book that has just arrived in the world all sheeny and new.

Poet Courtney Sina Meredith has come up with the sweet flowing words, Giselle Clarkson has created the vibrant illustrations and the Museum has provided fascinating facts.

It is a treasure of a book that is a delight to read and a delight to look at it.

I love butterflies. Whenever a monarch butterfly turns up in our garden I get goosebumps.


So let’s brighten up the chilly bite of July with butterfly poems.


I will read them all near the end of the month, post some favourites on July 31st and have a book for at least one poet.


Some writing tips

collect a big bunch of butterfly words before you start writing (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs) and a bouquet of similes

try writing a poem using no more than 16 words or so

use your senses to bring the butterfly alive

strong detail can shine

use a fascinating fact as a starting point

tell a little poem butterfly story

use a real experience

imagine something

make a butterfly poem that looks or moves like a butterfly

read your poem to someone before you send it to me – what will make it even better?


deadline: July 30th

send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

include: your name, age, year, school

essential: put butterfly poem in subject line so I don’t miss it


have fun!!!!




Poetry Box June Challenge: a winter poem video festival




Today is SO cold in Auckland and we are waiting for our fireplace to be finished. When it gets down to 1 degrees like last night (and probably colder up high where we are) it feels like winter. Our cats are sleeping tight together.

I love winter. I love running on the beach in the biting teeth of the wind to get warm. I love making hot soup and hot muffins and piping hot curries and tajines. I love looking at the bright blue sky when my fingers are numb.

Last week Y3/4 at Waitakere School made a video of themselves reciting an epic woman poem. You can hear it here. It inspired me to get you making poem videos.


Important: I can only post videos with you in them if the school or your parents give me permission!



The topic:           W  i  n  t  e  r


First:  you have to write a winter poem as a class or by yourself or with a friend. See tips below.

Second: you have to make a video of it. It might be you saying the poem or you might film something else as you read it.  See tips below.

Third: I will post the videos as I get them not just on the last day of the month.

So it will be a                      JUNE WINTER VIDEO POEM FESTIVAL

Fourth: On June 30th I will repost some favourite links to your videos. I will have a copy of A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children for at least one class and at least one child.


Deadline: June 27th

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

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

Don’t forget: to put winter video poem in email subject line so I don’t miss it


Tips for writing a winter poem:

Collect as many winter words as you can. Hunt for verbs adjectives nouns adverbs. 50?100?

Make patterns with the words you collect.

Hunt for sparking similes.

Poem launch points: what you eat, do, wear, see in winter. Where do you go?

Real things can make a poem strong.

A winter poem might tell a winter story.

A winter poem might be short and it might be long.

You might write it together as a class or in a group, with a friend or sibling or by yourself.

Listen to the rhythm of your poem. How can you change it?

Play with how many words you put on the line.

Let your poem sit for a few days, then make sure you love every word and how it sounds.


Tips for videoing a winter poem:

Film yourself or your class reading the poem.

Play around with who says what line! One voice, many voices.

Film something wintry as you read the poem.

Film winter drawings you have done as you read the poem.

Film photographs you have taken as you read the poem.

You can film it on a phone! Or IPad.

You can get video tricky with how you do this but you can keep it very simple.

I am no expert on video things. This is a BIG learning curve for me so I will give it a go too. I will get my daughters to teach me.


Remember I cannot post videos with you on screen without parental permission or school permission if a class does it. Audio is ok.