Category Archives: Children's Poetry

The Monster Family: Riverside, Tadcaster

We had a really fun day at Riverside, and some of the pupils who were there now have their own poetry blog.

Collectively we decided to write our group poem about a strange family:

The Monster Family

When Medusa and Count Dracula were married,

he loved her sly dangerous elegance;

she couldn’t resist him:  so tall and manipulative.

So they made their vows and took up residence

in Dracula’s dark cobwebby castle.

Their first pet was Percy the purple hedgehog

in his cute kitchen cupboard, his feeding bowl

full of dead people’s noses. For a lawnmower

they had a two-headed ginger sheep called Spice.

At night-time he slept on the bed, always keeping

one head awake in case Dracula got thirsty.

Their first born son was the Bogeyman.

As a teen he was addicted to The Monster Book.

He loved playing pranks on everyone.

Next they had Cyclops, a spoilt brat

because of his one eye. His bed is a cot of bone.

The third child is the worst of all, a smelly

red troll who sucks all of her six thumbs.

She screams all day long and sprouts orange horns

when she’s angry.

Medusa’s brother turned people to statues

and he looked like a worm, so Aunti Gemma

acidentally ate him. Oh well.

Grandfather Time steals people’s youth

to keep himself young forever.

So when he comes to stay, Dracula

sends the kids outside to play.

Medusa is the breadwinner: she’s a natural assassin.

They all live happily together, just like your family.


Filed under Able Writers, Children's Poetry, Education, poetry

At Smallwood school, Tooting.

A group poem written by year 5 & 6 pupils from London primary schools Smallwood and Beatrix Potter on 22 March 2012


The Incredible Monster Inside


In winter dark, I see a flickering light,

an old abandoned house with cobwebby windows.

I move towards the candle flame,

slowly opened the door in the cracked brickwork,

as floorboards creak, a monster emerges from the dark!


First I make out a green slimy face, withered eyes, a black tongue.

It roars a loud roar and spits phlegm. Its wide mouth

has massive yellow incisors. Its mouth is purple.

I see it has green legs, black feet, brown horns.


It smells of burning wood and disgusting dirt.

It’s rough to the touch as it pushes past me.

It eats ten humans a day or animals when people can’t be found.

It’s eating a cat now, chomping its bones and spitting out pink gloopy mucus.


The monster hasn’t noticed me, so I move on into the house.

Then I discover its nest, a stinking rotten mud-bath

surrounded by a moat of dirty water. Through a window

I see a flock of baby dragons. The mother feeds them and keeps them safe.


I hide. The monster returns to its nest and sleeps an evil sleep.

Suddenly to a sound of blasting music, pumping beats, the hero enters.

The hero chants: ‘Look into my eyes, just look at my eyes…’
The waking monster is hypnotized, under a spell. The hero from Ancient Greece

has another slave. The world is safe once more.


As I creep away, I see the baby dragons have all gone to sleep

curled around their mother, free to enjoy the abandoned house in peace.






Leave a comment

Filed under Able Writers, Children's Poetry, Education, Poets in schools

Group Poem from Able Writers Day at Whitby Heath Primary, Ellesmere Port

Save Our Animals

Have a care, be aware,

soon our animals will be extinct.

Giraffes are chomping juicy green leaves

Cheetas run swiftly and lazy zebras lie in the shade.

Elephants spray water with wrinkly, floppy, muscular trunks

while hippos yawn like caves in the water.

Have a care, be aware,

soon our animals will be extinct.

Creatures of the turquoise sea flash like diamonds

the great white shark thrashes through a plume of spray.

Turtles fly through water like dark angels,

rainbow fish illuminate the sea with their neon exotic colours.

Have a care, be aware,

soon our animals will be extinct.

Scaly, slithering snakes glide through the forest,

alarming squawks surround the trees where red-eyed tree frogs grip.

Furry but dangerous polar bears prowl the white wastes.

Arctic foxes scavenge, clever sleek penguins glide through water.

Have a care, be aware,

soon our animals will be extinct.

Enchanted exotic eagles swoop high and low

undermeath the blazing midday sun.

The fierce hungry grizzly bear comes round to growl,

scaring everything in its path – but hunters are coming.

Have a care, be aware,

soon our animals will be extinct.

Small newts paddle slowly through the ancient river.

Piranhas snap their teeth as they catch their prey.

A single dragon fly hovers over the muddy bog.

Frogs leap from the pond’s surface and blow bubbles in delight.


Have a care, be aware,

soon our animals will be extinct.

We may have to say goodbye

if we don’t watch where we put our feet.


I am very proud of this poem the children put together with my guidance. They had so many ideas and so many beautiful ways of celebrating the animals of our planet. We could have gone on adding more environments and habitats all day!

Leave a comment

Filed under Able Writers, Children's Poetry, Education, Poets in schools

Group Poem from Able Writers Day at St Mary’s, Middleton

A School Trip

Our class climbs into the massive orange spaceship

We’re all going to the moon today!

Mr Lavin says we can sing Happy Birthday

to our spaceship driver, Frank. We’re off! Yay!

The welcome centre is amazing! We are given

maps, jet packs, instructions, and are split into groups.

We set off into the ricky, bright, crater-filled landscape.

Stars are silver in the royal blue sky, boulders are red, yellow and indigo.

What’s that in front of us? It’s weird and it’s shouting

‘I want to eat you!’ Oh no, can our teacher save us?

Another alien, green with purple and blue spots, bounces up on a space hopper

and zaps the child-cruncher with its lazer finger.

It’s the end of our tour. Time for lunch and shopping.

We can go to MoonDonalds, Lunar King, Moon Pizzas or eat our packed lunches.

In the shop you can buy jelly aliens, flying saucers and haribou moon mix.

There’s alien rock and boxed astronauts. Buggies are good but too dear.

Our homeward trip is different. We’re all tired. We go

to sleep inside an egg, spinning back through strange skies,

watching a film of our wonderful day on the Moon. We land

near school, return to normal size. Our mums and dads are waiting

to take us home. We get our coats and bags, say thank you to the teachers.

This was the best trip ever!

To arrive at this poem, we decided on a topic incorporating as many ideas as possible, thought about how we could divide it up into groups and what order would make most sense. The groups came up with the ideas, fed it back to me and I drew it all together to show how to build up a poem.


Filed under Able Writers, Children's Poetry, Education

Writing Wonderland

As part of some events to tie in with the Alice in Wonderland exhibition at Tate Liverpool, The Development of the Arts in Northwich Community organisation asked me to plan and lead a three hour workshop for children themed around Alice.

I have loved this strange surreal story from childhood, when it used to give me weird dreams but confirmed my faith in logic and being true to oneself. Arguing with over-sized caterpillars and chewing the fat with disappearing cats were regular occurences in my life.

The workshop took place on 22nd December. Great fun was had by all as we wrote alliterating nonsense poems to introduce ourselves, such as:

Creative Kitty tickles and teases kittens

Magnificent Milly gives loud applause at a perfect pantomime

Rosy Roxana munches mince pies

Amazing Angela time travels with Doctor Who

Nibbling Nick groans at grim cracker jokes


We read the mouse’s tail poem on a handout with a wonderful Alice border, then wrote a range of Christmas Shape poems and then shared our work.

Next we tackled a story inspired by a key and its label, and I guided them through a structure until the first secion was written. Some of the participants promised to email me their work so it may be posted on the DAN blog. If so I will post a link here.

Moving on from writing, we did some role drama based on The Jabberwocky, which strictly speaking is from Alice Through the Looking Glass, but it’s still Wonderland! We had great fun, particularly with the freeze frames to create the setting  ’twas brillig and the slithy toves/ did gyre and gimble in the wabe’.

Everyone went home with an ALice in Wonderland character note to write a story about their own encounter with it.  We all had fun, there was warm squash and a lot of laughter. And some good work was produced. Thanks everyone.

Leave a comment

Filed under Able Writers, Children's Poetry, Education, Salt

Angela Topping’s Poetry in Education

My poems are being used in the classroom:

‘After the Earthquake’ is included in a Geography textbook as an example of how it feels to be an earthquake victim.

‘The Butcher’s Shop’ is a set poem in the anthology Food Glorious Food set for English Language and Literature Advanced Level.

‘ How to Capture a Poem’ is included in a GCSE textbook.

‘The Athlete’s Dream’ was quoted on this year’s National Poetry Day poem cards.


Primary schools study my book The New Generation (Salt 2010) and a free teacher pack is available to any school which books me for readings or workshops.

I am on a ist of poets recommended by OCR for study practice for the Unseen poem, a feature of GCSE English Literature examinations.

My poems have also been used in connection with Oxfam, The Samaritans and by the Open University.

I have co-authored several GCSE textbooks for OUP, and written several focus books for Greenwich Exchange.

I am a Teachit key contributor and have uploaded many popular resources over the years.


Filed under Able Writers, Children's Poetry, Education, poetry, Poets in schools, Salt

Death Door Dave, the Turtlejack

When I lead an Able Writers’ Day for Authors Abroad, I like to write a group poem with all the pupils working on a different stanza. I take ideas from the participants and try to incorporate as many as I can, discarding the ones that don’t fit. Then each small group works on an aspect of the topic, feeds back to me, then I shape it and write it up. This teaches them structure and consistency.

This is the most recent one, written last week at Mill Lane Primary. The pupils suggested we make up our own mythical creature. I split the topic up into things like physical appearance, habitat, diet, behaviour and so on. THis is what they came up with in half an hour!



Death Door Dave, The Turtlejack

His head is a barking jackal with orange eyes.
The wet-noser has a turtle body,
a creature with wire wings and green blood;
wolverine-clawed, its scorpion tail is green-flamed.

Invivible he can be, or camouflaged,
breathing fire, water or air. If he knows
you are coming he lies in wait.
He can fly high or low, scary in the sky.

You cannot hear him come, you cannot hear him go,
you cannot hear him run from all the things he fears.
He may look like a blood-thirsty savage
but his heart is a baby’s touch.
Diaphonous smoke curls around him
with a reek of gloom and loneliness.

At night he steals dinosaur eggs, seasons them with fairy dust,
eats with a salad of brussel heads, lettuce and carrots.
By day he kidnaps humans to make friends
and wonders why he fears them.

Death Door Dave used to be a happiness thief
a life crusher, a human eater, a dream disintegrator.
That was before pest control put him in prison.
Now he’s a changed monster, vegetarian, wise.

He was first created in a meteorite accident,
the only one of his kind. Now he lives in
a groovy flat, a moose-head on the wall.
candles lit, a massive double bed, waiting for a mate.

Written by the group on Able Writers’ Day at Mill Lane Primary School, Thame, Oxford


Leave a comment

Filed under Able Writers, Children's Poetry, Education, Salt, The New Generation