Student Activities with Poetry


These ideas are aimed at teachers of primary and secondary students; they offer ways in which you might like to use this blog site ( or otherwise employ poetry in your classroom. Have students:

  • Research and find poems from poets listed in the A to Z of Australian children’s poetry and then give a class presentation
  • Check out at least one of the poetry website links on the blog site and tell the class what they found
  • Enter poems they have written into children’s competitions listed on the site
  • Write an email – or a letter – to one of the poets listed on the blog site
  • Write a poem and submit it to the site as the Poem of the Day
  • Invite a poet – or a community leader – to visit your school to read and/or recite poems at your school assembly.
  • Ask every child in your class to find a poem they love and create a class poetry anthology
  • Organise a poetry reading based on poems collected for the anthology
  • Write a class acrostic poem using the teacher’s surname
  • Find out about free verse and read a verse novel
  • Make a collection of poems displayed on the site (from the A to Z of poets) and from the Poem of the Day
  • Display a Poem of the Day written by a student on the class noticeboard
  • Find and share silly, short poems written by Anonymous
  • For a class assembly item, have the class present poetry connected by a theme (for example: family, food, games)
  • For a fun activity in class, have students talk to one another in rhyming couplets for a limited period
  • Raid home, public and school libraries for poetry collections and anthologies; when it’s time for DEAR, have students read from one of the books
  • After DEAR, each child share a poem they really liked
  • Memorise and recite poems found on the Australian children’s poetry blog site
  • Have class work together to write an article about poetry in their class and submit it to the blog site
  • Have students find children’s poetry websites and blogs not listed on the blog site and submit them as links
  • Feel free to send in information about how you employ poetry in your classroom if you’re a teacher. Or if you are a student, send in your thoughts, too! Send to


Poem of the Day


Humungous Fungus


Humungous Fungus is among us

And it’s rather smelly.

It slowly creeps between your toes

Then right up to your belly.


It can be blue, but when it’s pink

It gives off such an awful stink.

Sometimes it floats down in the breeze

And leaves great blobs on both your knees.


When it sparkles like a fairy

Then you must be very wary.

If it waves its magic wand

You’ll smell like slime from next door’s pond.


Beware if Fungus goes to school.

It doesn’t care who looks a fool.

Your teacher might get quite a shock

If Fungus hides inside his sock.


If poor grandma, while she’s sitting

Concentrating on her knitting

Notices a sudden pull

It’s Fungus climbing up her wool.


Even mum must be quite careful

She might cop a blobby hair full

If she happens to be shopping

Right where Fungus slime is dropping.


Family pets should run and hide

‘Cos Fungus loves to slip and slide

Into kennels, baskets, cages

Sending critters into rages.


But Fungus loathes a water spray

So get yourself one right away.

And squirt that fiend with all your might

You’ll be a hero overnight.


Pat Simmons © 2014

Poetry Links

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Thanks to Dianne Cook who has provided the following links for readers of this blog.

Here’s an interesting post on children’s poetry in America

For any humorous poetry fans out there, you might want to check out THE FUNEVERSE. It’s a free resource for schools and children where poets, illustrators and kids come together to exercise their creative funny bones and write funny verse.

This is the website of Emma Press, UK, which offers a newsletter letting readers know of poetry competitions in the UK and what else is happening there in poetry

Growing up and Glasses


© Janeen Brian

Growing up takes a long time. While I was growing up, I came to understand that my perceptions of experiences and incidents were always going to be different to everybody else’s. In particular it struck me how differently people perceive something they see.

For example, once while travelling around New Zealand, I saw a huge rounded mountain. While other members of the group commented on the mountain’s size and other geographical features, I immediately imagined the shape as a giant’s head. It struck me at that moment that although factual information interested me, it wasn’t my passion.

Making-up was my passion.

A simple rhyme and a rhythm began to form in my mind:

A forest giant went out one day,

Thumpety-rah, thumpety-rah. 

Incidentally, I developed those two lines into a rhyming narrative, entitled Thumpety-rah which later was published as a picture-book school reader by Wendy Pye in New Zealand.

However, despite that earlier light-globe popping moment, I still had a long way to go before I reached an understanding that writers and in particular, poets, have different perception-type antennae, which they use almost subconsciously. Gradually, I felt more confident in expressing myself in whatever way I felt natural to me. Now, I know deep down, I am a poet.

Chooks poem 1 Chooks poem 2

Here’s how I took an everyday event and scratched out a poem.

One day I saw my two chooks scrabbling happily in their pen, with not an egg in sight. Again! Whereas other people might pass a comment of annoyance, or head off to research information about Chooks and Their Spasmodic Egg-laying Habits, I jotted down a few words to recall the experience. Eventually that incident worked its way into a poem called Chooks. How did I develop it from a few words into a poem? What was my process?

My first step was to randomly throw words, phrases and thoughts onto paper, shutting out any of those critical niggles, or inner-head whines that drive you crazy by asking, Why are you putting that down? What’s that supposed to mean? I wrote down anything and everything about the way chooks act or sound; words like peck, flick, stare, croon, strut and ruffle. Words were soon scattered across the page as if the chooks themselves had been having a good scratch around.

I was able to carry out that stage even though I wasn’t in a ‘writing zone’; you know, that different world where writing simply flows; where it seems there are no hurdles to jump, gates to open or mud to slog through. I did all that toss-and-see stuff on paper preferring not to use a computer at that time.

Normally, I’d then leave the word collection alone for a while. But, as in this case, before I did, I gave it a sideways glance to see if there were any interesting connections or patterns lurking about, just right for the grabbing. I discovered a couple, so I highlighted them for a future time. So what did I mark out as interesting? Recently, I’d enjoyed reading a number of two-word-per-line poems. Perhaps I could couple up some of those independent words and somehow link them to a theme of non-laying chooks. It might work.

But after that thought, I knew that if I tried to take the poem process any further, it’d end up feeling and sounding contrived. I wasn’t fresh or alert enough, and I had to be when I tackled the next stage. Later I scrabbled about linking some strong verbs and nouns to develop the two-word-per-line idea. I had fun with claw grab and  bottom squat which I felt also added to the visual image. Later still, I felt the poem needed more of a narrative structure and I decided the perfect vehicle was the use of different heights. I’d use the three levels of height that existed in our own chook pen; the yard, the roosting rail and the pen roof. I was also able to repeat those three levels when bringing the poem to its closure before the final command!

I had fun writing the poem and it was published in the July 2012 Countdown edition of The School Magazine. Kerry Millard’s quirky, fun illustrations matched the tone perfectly.

When I’m out at schools, I have enormous enjoyment performing this poem with children. They LOVE being chooks, and they also love shouting the last line, commanding the chooks to LAY SOME EGGS!

So, in an eggshell, it’s all about perception. Poetry is about taking the moment to react to experiences and seeing things around you in a different way. Many say it’s like putting on a different pair of glasses.

Well, I’m here to tell you, I enjoy wearing glasses!



Chooks in the

chook yard

dust flick

            scratch scratch

            pick peck

chook chat


Chooks on the

roosting rail

claw grab

             bottom squat

            feather fluff

            chook croon


Chooks on the

pen roof

air stare

            primp preen

strut smart

chook squawk


you chooks

in the chook yard

on the roosting rail

and on the pen roof


get into the nesting boxes





About Janeen Brian                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Janeen began playing around with words in her thirties. An avid reader, she began writing short verses for her own fun and that of her two young daughters. Janeen has now been published widely across many genres, and as an award-winning author has had over 85 books published. Her main loves are picture books, short fiction and poetry. Her recent foray into the world of novel writing has met with great success with the release of That Boy, Jack, which won a Notable Award in the 2014 CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia) Awards. She is currently writing another commissioned novel and has three more books due for publication.

Janeen writes both rhyming and free verse and sees her rhyming verse mainly as her vehicle for humour. Her work has appeared in 16 anthologies and over 150 of her poems have appeared in children’s magazines both nationally and in USA. She’s also been shortlisted or won awards for both her children’s and adult poetry.

Three books, Silly Galah, Its and Bits of Nature (reprinted as Nature’s Way) and By Jingo! are picture-poetry books, while The Super parp-buster, Columbia Sneezes, Shirl and the Wollomby Show, I Spy Dad, I Spy Mum, I’m A Dirty Dinosaur are picture books told in rhyme. I’m a Dirty Dinosaur has been Shortlisted in the 2014 CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia) Awards and the Speech Pathology of Australia Awards. Another picture-poetry book called Our Village in the Sky, was recently released (2014). It was illustrated by the award-winning illustrator and published by Allen & Unwin.




postal: 11 Short Ave, Glenelg East SA 5045

phone / fax: (08) 8294 5703




That Boy, Jack:  A Notable in the Younger Readers’ category for 2014 CBCA Awards

I’m a Dirty Dinosaur: Shortlisted for the Early Childhood category in the 2014 CBCA Awards, Selected for Get Reading! 2013

Eddie Pipper: Shortlisted for Speech Pathology Awards, 2013


Roses are Blue

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Roses are Blue by Sally Murphy, illustrated by Gabriel Evans (Walker Books Australia, 2104)

Roses are Blue

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Previous verse novels by Sally Murphy (Pearl Verses the World and Toppling) have won swags of children’s book awards, so it’s likely her latest verse novel for children aged 7 to 10 years is likely to do well, too.

An issues-based novel, Roses are Blue is about Amber Rose coping with a ‘new’ mother, who it seems embarrasses her. Prior to a car accident, her mum was ‘normal’ but now she’s in a wheelchair, her head tilted to one side, her hand twitching; she’s unable to feed or clean herself and unable to make intelligible sounds.

Amber’s family is now living in a new wheelchair-friendly house and she’s at a new school. On the first day in the new neighbourhood when the family went on a walking expedition, a boy collided with Mum and looked at ‘Mum in disgust/before saying/Escape! Escape!/Robot cannot compute!’ When Amber’s teacher, Mrs Little announces Mothers’ Day is coming up and the class will present mums with a high tea, Amber is worried. ‘I don’t want her there,’ she says. She has been unable to tell anyone, even her new best friend Saffron, about her mum’s condition. Her ‘before’ mum was an artist and talented gardener, and a seemingly capable woman. Amber’s concern about revealing the problems with her mother are exacerbated by problems she had at her former school when she wasn’t part of Lola Jones’ ‘in’ group. At her new school, however, she has made friends including Jade, Ebony and Saffron.

Much of this book revolves around Amber telling how life was ‘before’. Now Mum and the family – Dad, younger brother Jack and Amber – are cared for by Aunty Fi. Amber confesses to her aunt her concern about her mother being seen by her new school mates. Her aunt replies, ‘Well, you only have to say/what your want to say./But if I was you,/I would tell them the truth./She’s still your mum,/and she might be different,/ but you love her very much./Don’t you? The climax of this story, of course, is the day of the high tea when Aunty Fi and Mum turn up and Amber’s shameful secret is revealed, as well as a surprise about a boy in her class, LeRoy Jamieson and an art competition which Mrs Little’s students have entered.

This book is sure to be loved by any mother who reads it as it’s really a tribute to motherhood and is sure to tug at heartstrings. Children who face the difficulties of being ‘different’ in some way, especially if they have parents who are don’t fit the usual stereotype, for example, who have physical or mental incapacities, are sure to recognise themselves. The book shows how the family treats Mum, but also highlights how Amber takes on added responsibility for her younger brother Jack. The book is also likely to be used in the classroom by compassionate teachers and is in line with the National Curriculum.

The fact that Roses are Blue is one continuous text and not divided by the more conventional naming of verses might cause a problem for the younger readers at whom it is pitched. Despite this, the book is sure to be widely read and enjoyed. It is also likely to feature in the Australian Family Therapy Awards because of its subject matter and the quality of its writing.



Poem of the Day


High Achievers


We thought we could. ..

We said we would

go on the climb

to Mount Sublime

and we did it!

Yes! We did it!

We got to the top! We did it!


They said it was impossible.

They said we wouldn’t last.

They said it was a grown-ups’ walk

and grown-ups walk too fast.

They said you must be big and strong—

The path is very steep

and you have to cross some channels where

the water’s very deep.

They said the climb is difficult

and we’re not old enough

to know you just keep going when

the going’s really tough.

They said there could be leeches and

creepy crawly things

and real explorers don’t complain

of scratches, bites and stings.

They thought we wouldn’t make it but

they let us go along

and we showed them, yes we showed them they

were wrong! wrong! wrong!


© Kate O’Neil

Speak Up!

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Speak Up! Poems selected by Mark Carthew, illustrated by Annie White (Teacher Created Materials, 2013)

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This 20 page hardback book is part of a series of poetry books meant for emergent readers, thus all of the poems here are short and easy to read. Some of the eight poems are traditional (Chinese, French, origin unknown, Jamaican and English) while the remaining few are by Dennis Lee and Emilie Poulsson (1853-1939). Most of the poems are about animals (chickens, mice and monkeys) and insects (bees and mosquitoes) while the penultimate poem is the well-known ‘Grand Old Duke of York.’

The book, like the others in the series, is just the right size for small hands, and is well-designed with large font and lots of white space. All of the poems, except for one, are contained on single pages. Illustrations are beautifully executed in muted colours by the Melbourne-based artist.

Teacher Created Materials is a publishing house based in California, USA. Production and design is by Australian-based packagers, Denise Ryan and Associates.



Poem of the Day


The Bear


Awakened from his sleep

down from the Forest Wilderland

the bear appears

to smell the river.

Upstream he stands – with

water pulsing past his feet,


birds, shrieking in spring skies.


he watches salmon as they leap –

rivulets of hunger in his mouth.

His clasping teeth,

with sharpened claws,

grab the salmon flapping

in their grief.

He bears his prizes to the slippery edge,

skinning flesh

and finally crushing bones.


towards a warming sun,

he sniffs the air,

remembering then,

his recent sleep



© Jill Carter-Hansen 2014

P O Box 1381                                                                                                               

 Darlinghurst   NSW 1300                                                                          


Vroom, Vroom!: Poems about Things with Wheels

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Vroom, Vroom!: Poems about Things with Wheels selected by Mark Carthew, illustrated by Paul Nicholls (Teacher Created Materials, 2013

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Racing cars feature on the cover of this hardback book devised for an American market with Australian input from the compiler and packager (Denise Ryan and Associates). And too, there are plenty of colourful vehicles displayed through its 24 pages, from tow trucks to fire brigades to trains. One can imagine a boy reader aged 7 to 8 years flicking through the pages. Hopefully he will also read the nine poems with titles such as ‘The Robot’, ‘The Yellow Bus’ and ‘Tractors, Trucks, Trains and Trams.’

As with all four of the poetry books in the Read! Explore! Imagine! fiction reader series, anthologist Carthew has included his own, original work, namely four poems in this collection of nine poems. Happily, he has also made use of poems by well-published Australians, Max Fatchen, Janeen Brian and Doug Macleod.

There’s an excellent poem, ‘Song of the Train’ by David McCord with lots of repetition of ‘Click-ety-clack/Click-ety clack/Click-ety, clack-ety/Click-ety/Clack’ – great for reading aloud, and perhaps accompanying the recitation with percussion sounds. Another poem which caught my interest was ‘Engineers’ which used lots of ‘machine’ words such as ‘Piston, valves and wheels and gears’ and lots of onomatopoeia.

It would be wonderful if these durable and attractive books with well-selected verse and colourful, appealing illustrations were readily available for young Australian children.

Giggles and Niggles

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Giggles and Niggles by Jenny Erlanger, illustrations by Loren Stewart (Haddington Press, 2007) RRP $15.00

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Giggles Erlanger - Copy

The cover of this book and the poems it contains clearly demonstrates this is a child-friendly collection. Many poets writing for children suppose that younger readers are generally more interested in nature (weather, birds, animals, trees etc) than in poems about children’s lives. But Erlanger ‘gets’ it; that more than anything kids want to read about themselves and their lives. Thus, in this 70 page collection of rhyming poems, you will find titles such as ‘Blabbermouth’, ‘How to Get Rid of Peas’, ‘Party at Luna Park’, ‘Teacher’s Pet’ and ‘School Sleepover.’

The poems are not categorised under sub-headings which is fine as this is really a collection for dipping into. Appropriately, the first poem in the book, is titled ‘Me’; this is immediately followed by poems about swimming, bath-time, shoes that hurt, a baby brother’s tantrums and so on. Most of the poems are shortish, no more than a page (or a page and a half), another way to get children reading. (My observation is that most children prefer short poems to long narratives). In ‘My Classroom’, the narrator says, ‘Our room’s like a packet of smarties./It’s crammed full of colour and fun./Every spot, every place/Every spare bit of space/Is filled up with things we have done.’ Like all of the poems in this book, this poem is child-centric and therefore full of child-appeal.

Some of the shorter poems I particularly enjoyed were ‘I Win!’, a quatrain about winning at a family game of Monopoly, ‘Operation Teddy’ about a stuffed bear being repaired and ‘Assistant Cook’ where a child helping in the kitchen really only wants to lick the bowl (don’t all kids?) Erlinger not only writes gentle, simple, charming and easy-to-read verse, but she knows exactly how a child thinks and behaves — and what interests him or her. One can imagine a teacher reading these poems to her class, or a parent being read Erlanger’s poems by his or her child. The poems are also ideal for reading on the page. Black and white line illustrations by Stewart who has won awards and scholarships in the fields of design and illustration enhance the book as well.

This is a poetry collection that should be in the hands of all young readers from the ages of seven to ten years.
Inspired by A.A Milne’s poetry in her early pre-school years, Jenny has been writing rhyming verse since she first learnt to write. Her children’s poems, most of which are written through the eyes of a child, draw attention to the simple everyday things and emotional ups and downs that help shape our lives.

Jenny has had a number of poems published in “The School Magazine” and two poems were published in “Hopscotch” (Jelli-Beanz Publishing, 2011).
Giggles and Niggles is Jenny’s first volume of children’s poetry. Although the book is currently out of print and may be difficult to obtain now from bookstores, Jenny has a number of extra copies she can send to interested buyers. Her email is and the book costs $15.