top of page
Untitled design.png
  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle


Check out the activities for using poetry to teach reading

Making a Difference

Lemn Sissay

1) Find and copy one word that means 'to help out'. (1 mark)

2) Find and copy a group of words that means 'making something right again'. (1 mark)

3) How does the writer address the reader and try to make them feel part of its message? (1 mark)

4) How does the author give the impression that the world is poor state? Give two examples. (2 marks(

5) What are the key messages of this poem? Give evidence to support your points. (3 marks)

6) Find and copy one word that means 'unstoppable'. (1 mark)

Click here for a link to the poem


John Agard


1) Find and copy one word that means ‘to receive’. (1 mark)

2) Find and copy one word that means ‘happily remembering the past’. (1 mark)

3) Who are ‘the children of the meek’? (1 mark)

4) What does the author think will happen to our planet? Use evidence to support your answer. (2 marks)

5) What words does the author use to show that the planet is suffering? (2 marks)

6) Summarise, in your own words, the question that the author is asking in the final stanza. (2 marks)

You can access the poem by scrolling to page 15 of this anthology.

I, Too

Langston Hughes


This is a great poem for discussing topics around racism. Here are some questions to go with!

Click here for a link to the poem. 


1) Find and copy one word that means ‘embarrassed’. (1 mark)

2) Find and copy one word that is used to mean ‘group of people’. (1 mark)

3) Why was the narrator ‘sent to the kitchen’? Support your answer with evidence. (2 marks)

4) What does the phrase ‘darker brother’ tell you about the narrator? (1 mark).

5) Name two ways in which the narrator copes with being mistreated. (2 marks)

6) This poem is about hope. Do you agree or disagree? Use evidence to support your answer. (3 marks)

The Drum Dream Girl

Margarita Engle

Click here for a link to the poem

1) Find and copy one word that means ‘to shake’. (1 mark)

2) Give two words that best describe ‘the Drum Girl’. Use evidence to support your answers. (2 marks)

3) Predict what is most likely to happen next. Use evidence to support your answer. (2 marks)

4) ‘and she practiced, and she practiced, and she practiced’ – explain why the author chose to repeat this phrase. (1 mark)

5) Where did the girl live? (1 mark)

6) Put these events in chronological order:


A) The Drum Girl joined a band with her sisters.

B) The Drum Girl’s dad got her a music teacher.

C) The Drum Girl heard men playing in outdoor cafes.

D) The Teacher said that she should play the drums outdoors.

I Am Very Bothered

Simon Armitage


1) Find and copy a word that means ‘marked’. (1 mark)

2) Which of the words below best matches the meaning of the word ‘bothered’ in the first sentence? (1 mark)

  1. Upset

  2. Concerned

  3. Annoyed

3) Who is this poem addressed to? Use evidence to support your answer (2 marks)

4) What impression is the author trying to promote by using the word ‘butterfingered’? (For an extra point, what is meant by ‘promote in this question’) (1 mark)

5) According to the text, what colour was the flame of the Bunsen Burner?

6) Summarise the incident with the Bunsen Burner.

Please follow this link to see them poem!

More Dangerous Air

Margarita Engle

Click here for a link to the poem.

1) Find and copy a word that means ‘to tell someone to do something’. (1 mark)

2) Find and copy a word that means ‘easy to break’. (1 mark)

3) What is the ‘streak of light’? Use evidence to support your answer. (2 marks)

4) Why does the author use the word ‘frail’ to describe the school desk? (1 mark)

5) Where are the missiles being launched from [YOUR ANSWER MUST BE A NOUN]? (1 mark)

6) How does the author feel in this poem? Support your answer with evidence (3 marks)

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Dylan Thomas


1) Find and copy one word which means 'felt intense sorrow'. (1 mark)

2) What is the 'the dying of the light'? (1 mark)

3) How will the author act in their old age? Use evidence to support your answer. (2 marks)

4) How does the author use repetition to make a message? (1 mark)

5) Whom does the poem suggest might be nearing their dying 'of the light'?

Click here for a link to the poem. 

Progressive Tense Poem

By Me!

This is an idea I had for getting progressive tenses into children's writing: progressive tense poetry


In order to write a progressive tense poem, you write three paragraphs: one for past progressive, one for present progressive and one for future progressive. 


For each paragraph you write 3 lines:

A) One in the first person (I)
B) One in the second person (You)
C) One in the third person (They, he, she...)

Here is an example that I came up with:

Early this morning.
I was sluggishly eating my crunchy cornflakes - crispy life jackets adrift on a sea of milk. 
You were sleepily eating your toast - cut into triangles. 
Those birds, perched on a streetlight outside, were chirping a sweet chirp from across the street. 


I am being taught a lesson, I should never forget - how to get progressive verb tenses, every time, correct. 
You are staring sleepily at the board. 
Those birds are still chirping, but now drowned out by the roar of planes.


Future me.
I will be leaving school, but only to come back again.
You will be sleepily gathering your things: coat, reading record, homework and, finally, your bag.
Those birds will be falling silent, for the first time today.


There is also a song <---- by Anchor Education, which is really useful too!


Ian McMillan

'Piems' are poems about pies. 

Get your class to have a bit of fun with imagery by making their own 'piem'. Go through imagery devices (hyperbole, similes, metaphors and personification) and get them to complete the 'pie' pro form below. 

Let the children be silly with this one and see what they come up with!

It's pleasing to the nose
And delightful to the eye 
Because in my pie is..........................
And it tastes like........................

It's pleasing to the nose
And delightful to the eye 
Because in my pie is..........................
And it is........................

It's pleasing to the nose
And delightful to the eye 
Because in my pie is..........................

Primary School Smells

Joe Cooper

This is a wonderful poem about experiencing primary school through the sense of smell. 

When I think back to Primary School I sniff,
The PVA dripping from blue glue sticks,
Thin carpets caked in playdough far too thick,
Wax crayons, trying to resist; a riff
On temptation. Sweet smelling as lemons,
(Some Banda addict got delirium tremens).
Bashing chalk dust rubbers that stifled and choked,
Do the sniff test to see whose is whose coat.
Did Tipp-Ex really have magical powers?
Can TCP cure every illness?
Did urinal biscuits last for six hours?
Fragrant stock cupboards: stationery stillness.
Let not our memories spoil or turn sour,
Like free milk spilled on a checked summer dress.

Explain to your children that you are going to write a poem about their school. Tell them that you will describe it through the sense of sight. Get the children to list as many random things as they can that they see around school; encourage them to describe the way they look and the way they act. Make sure that the things they choose are unique to school life. In other words, things that they would normally see or hear outside of their school. 

Once they have done all of this, get them writing. Show them this example: 

When I think of my school in my mind I can see,
Mr Darcy shouting, yelling and telling jokes like the clown at Blackpool pleasure beach. 
The playground dotted with pigeons and seagulls, patiently waiting for the children to arrive.
A football on the roof, which is a lost ship alone at sea waiting to be rescued.

Formula: Explain that after the first line, each sentence should describe a noun; it should start with how it looks and then describe what it does or how it moves/acts. 

Get the children to follow this format:

When I think of INSERT SCHOOL NAME in my mind I can see,

Big thank you to @coejooper for letting me use this poem!

This is the Place

Tony Walsh: Longfella

‘This is the Place’ is a beautiful poem by Tony Walsh that touched many people after the tragic Manchester Arena bombing on May 22nd 2017. His performance at Manchester town hall was truly inspiring and I feel that it reminds us of all the things that make us proud of our local areas. 

I have slightly adapted the poem so that children can make their own poem about their local area. First, ask them to come up with all the things that make them proud of their town or city. This could be: things that have been invented there; local people’s attitude and outlook; famous local landmarks and so on. Then, use these ideas to finish off the lines below.


This is _________

Where you’ll find _________

We make _________

And we are _________


Please follow this link to a better version of the video:  rather than watching the one on the left. Even if you don’t use this activity with your children, please do show them the video – it is an amazing piece of poetry. 

I hope that this is useful.

Environmentally Friendly Poem: Takeaway Carbon

Martin Kiszko

Martin Kiszko's 'Takeaway Carbon' is a lighthearted poem that encourages people to consider how to 'think green' when they're planning their journeys. Most lines of the poem begin with the word 'Take' and then are followed by an alternative method of transportation to a car. 

I got my class to create their own version of this poem after a lesson on the environment. I showed the children my own versos first:

Take a horse-drawn carriage.

Why not take a canoe and paddle your way to school?

Take a hot air balloon and drift amongst the clouds.

You could even ride a penny farthing over cobbled streets.


I followed this format and I asked them to complete each line:

Take a...

Why not take a...?

Take a...

You could even take a...

With your children you can be as serious or as silly as you want to be. A child in my class wrote: "Take a tram full of monkeys" - what a wonderful imagination! 


Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling's 'If' is a beautiful poem and one that we all know well. It is a great poem to look at with Upper Key Stage 2 children; the poem is challenging and has a strong message that children can understand by drawing upon good comprehension skills. 

Rather than simply laying out some comprehension questions, I've decided to look at how the children might adapt the poem to make their own version. Comprehension questions for this poem are everywhere, so if you are after them - just ask google!

I got my class to listen to the poem and discuss how it works. I stressed that the poem outlines the ways that you can prove yourself to be a well rounded and wise person. It does this in a few key ways, the most important is to describe things you can do in the face of adversity/bad things. For example: 1."If you can keep your head when all about you//Are losing theirs and blaming it on you" - 2. "If you can wait and not be tired by waiting"

Explain to your children that you are going to make a modern version of 'If'. Next, get the children to list things examples like the ones above. 

For example:

Not fouling people in football, when others are fouling you

Not shouting at people, if they shout at you

Singing as loud as you can, even if someone tells you that you are no good

Explain that if you put the word 'If in-front of these, then your very own 'If' line.

Use this pro forma for the children's poems:

If you can....
If you can....
And you can....

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.


If you can....

If you can....

And you can....

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it


And—which is more—you’ll be a Man/Woman, my son/daughter!

Here is my example:

If you can make friends, without ever falling out,

If you can fall of your bike, and get straight bike on.

And you can try again with a smile, if you don't do well on a spelling test,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it

Please reload

bottom of page