Tag Archives: poetry play

Poetry Play with dogs, cats and dragons

Today we will play with similes.

Trying thinking of similes for these six words and then play with the order of them and turn them into a poem.  You have three choices of poems:

dog    barking   ball  sky   rain  bone

cat     mat   milk   hungry  fur   fish

dragon   red   gold  cave   flame  soft

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

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.


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.

Poetry Play Pick ‘n Mix

When I was at the festival I heard an author from Britain say she liked to write a list of heaps of things she was interested in and then try and put them in a novel. It sounds a bit like a join-the-dots picture as she wanted to link the things up.

I thought it would be fun to write a poem like this. Think of five things you like and then try and put them all in a poem.

I thought of water, chocolate, fountain pen, windows, kereru and then tried writing a poem (see below for my first go). It’s quite tricky  but its definitely fun! I had no idea where the poem was going to take off to.  

Have a go!  Send to paulajoygreen@ gmail.com. Don’t forget your name, age, year and name of school.

When I Was Young

When I was young

the bump on my writing finger

was covered in radiant blue ink

from my fountain pen,

and if I wasn’t careful my words

would end up floating

in a pool of watery blue.

I would look out the window at the kereru

and dream of hot chocolate

(we used to drink cocoa)

and the long walk home

up Maunu Road.

Poetry Play # 5 pond a ring poetry

Poems are like a breath of fresh air when I am feeling tired.

Poems take me to the moon and then let me stand on my head.

Poems are my secret kitchen.

I like poems that cover my eyes  for a moment and then say ‘surprise!’

Poets often like to write poems about writing poems or what they think makes a good poem or what poetry is like or what it feels like when they write a poem.

My new book (The Baker’s Thumbprint) has a poem on this very subject!

I have been rolling a poem about in my head as I walk on the beach that looks at what a poem is again. Differently! I am jotting lines in my little notebook and soon I will begin writing.

What happens if you play around with ideas about what a poem is? Put them into a list poem. One poet I know said writing a poem is like riding a bicycle down hill (wow!). Another poet said a poem is like a dehydrated vegetable opening.

Remember you can play around with how you set your list out on each line.

Send your poems to paulajoygreen@gmail.com and I will post some of my favourites.

Include your name, age, year and name of school. You can include your teacher’s name and email if you like.

Poetry Play #4 Word Recipes

Yesterday I decided to play around with word recipes. These are some of the starting points I came up with:



A Recipe for Beach Fun

A Recipe for Clean Shoes

A Recipe for Happiness

A Recipe for Saturday Afternoon

A Recipe for Daydreams

A Recipe for Space Travel

A Recipe for a Better World

A Recipe for a Boredom Buster

A Recipe for a Best Friend


If you want to give a word recipe a go (any topic you like!) send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Don’t forget to include your name, age, class, school (and teacher’s name and email if you like).


A Recipe for Sunday Afternoons

1 cup of a good book

2 cups of rain on the roof

3 cups of warm fire

3 tsp of toasted marshmallows

1 tsp of foggy windows

1 cup of walking under your umbrella

3 tsp of cold feet

4 tsp of cold fingers

5 tsp of dragon breath

1 cup of hot toast and dripping honey


Simmer gently for three hours.

Eat slowly.



A Recipe for Happiness

1 cup of walking

2 cups of reading

1 tsp of eating chocolate fish

4 tsp of watching the sun go down

4 tsp of watching the sun come up

3 cups of writing a poem

1 cup of hearing the tui sing and the kereru swoop

1 cup of eating a crisp apple (not floury)


Mix together gently.



Poetry Box Poetry Play #3 Word Walks

I love walking. I love walking on the beach early every morning. I love walking on the sand looking for surprises. I love walking in the bush. I love walking along the city streets hearing the hubbub of people and cars (it’s quiet where I live so it makes a change!). I love walking alongside streams and in places I have never been to before. I loved walking through the Abel Tasman National Park with my family. I even love walking up steep hills.

IMG_2947          IMG_2956

So I decided it would be fun to do some word walks. I have had a go at two. See what you can do. There are no rules. When you do a word walk you get to play with words. Send your word walk to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Don’t forget to include your name, age, year, name of school, teacher’s email if you can, and which challenge it is for.




Down the zig

up the zag

by the pohutakawa

across the wet

with my dogs

to the warm.



Down the path

up the tree

over the fence

under the bridge

by the sea


Down the tree

up the fence

over the bridge

under the sea

by the path


Down the fence

up the bridge

over the sea

under the path

by the tree

NZ Poetry Box Poetry Play #2 Word Puddles

CHALLENGE TIP: I will have given you three different challenges this week: Write a poem that sounds good. Tell me about your favourite MARGARET MAHY poem. Make a word puddle (that’s today). You can try all! Just let me know which challenge it is please. Don’t forget your name, age, year, name of school, teacher and their email address (if possible). Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. If you have questions post them on here and I will answer for everyone to see.

After weeks and weeks of dry weather it has been raining and showering where I live. We are lucky as we have one huge water tank and one medium water tank and they have done a good job this summer (plus we have learnt to be careful). But yeah! for the rain.

I looked out my door at the puddle of water on the deck and it seemed surprising to see it there. It made me want to write a word puddle. I was not sure what a word puddle might be at first. Then I decided it was somewhere you put words you like that sound good together. Feel free to have a go and send me your results: paulajoygreen@gmail.com


wet slosh slish wash

water wetter drip drop

cool melon cold ice

soft shower tongue out




sticky chocolate sweet slurp

chocolate treat scrumptious eat

velvety smooth slickity lips

scrumichocs chocolate box

Poetry Box Poetry Play #1 Sayings and Proverbs

When I am walking along the beach in the morning I often play with words. Not all the time — sometimes I just walk and enjoy the sights and sounds and smells, and the rhythm of walking.

This morning I started playing with proverbs. When I was about ten I loved making lists of proverbs and sayings (I am not sure if you do this anymore at school!). Now that I am much older I like playing with them. Feel free to reply with any you can add to my list!

I could turn this into a poem but I just had fun playing.

A poem a day keeps the doctor away.

A poem in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Out of the frying pan into the poem.

A poem is a person’s best friend.

A poem in one’s cap.

The poem of my eye.

A red poem to a bull.

Keep up with the poems.

Saved by the poem.

Wear your poem on your sleeve.

You can lead a poem to water but you can’t make it drink.

Shiver my poems.

It will set your poems on edge.

The early bird catches the poem.

It’s raining cats and poems.

Put a poem in it.

As fast as greased poems.

Poems might fly.

It will make your poem stand on end.

A leopard can not change its poems.

Know which way the poem blows.

Every cloud has a silver poem.

In the twinkling of a poem.

Grinning like a Cheshire poem.

Don’t count your poems before they are hatched.

A rolling poem gathers no moss.

As cool as a poem.

As busy as a poem.

Poems should be seen and not heard.

Don’t look a gift poem in the mouth.

A little poem told me.

Let the poem out of the bag.

The poem’s got your tongue.

Alike as two poems in a pod.

All poems and thumbs.

Poems wouldn’t melt in his mouth.

By the skin of your poem.

The world is your poem.