top of page

Reading and Writing Poetry


The Magic Makers

Year 6 Workshop: Reading and Writing Poetry

Length of Session: 150 minutes



Aims of the Workshop

  • To explore ways of constructing and deconstructing poetry texts.

  • To develop an understanding of the creative process – both the inspiration and the perspiration!

  • To provide a platform for an end-of-year integrated learning Module.




Introductory Session

Length of Session: 30 Minutes


  • I introduce myself and the poem, with an explanation of how my cat Molly was the initial inspiration for the new book and how my grandmother gave me the idea for one of my Magicians.  The children will need copies of the The Magic Makers and I provide a number of Powerpoint slides.

  • In my personal introduction, I read a few examples from my first book, Beastly Bites. This is an alphabetical set of rhyming couplets about animals and eating. I tell them that I write a birthday story and a Christmas story for my neighbours’ children and give a couple of examples.

  • Returning to The Magic Makers itself:

  1. I look at the planetary system on the back cover, focusing on the sequence of the planets and commenting on their names. 

  2. I outline the story, telling of the birth of planet Earth and then take the first four Magicians in turn, looking at the illustrations and discussing the part the Magicians play in beautifying the new-born planet.

  3. I read ‘The Sun Awakes’ and explain the idea behind ‘The Shaping Magician’ before having a quick look at the part played by Ariel as he introduces the seasons.


Session Two: Close Reading

Length of Session: 60 Minutes

Phase One

  • Group discussion about what makes poetry different and why poets might be seen as Magic Makers. The discussion is likely to touch upon a number of aspects but this Phase will emphasise:

  • Rhyme – what it emphasises, hard/soft rhymes, choice of rhyme words.

  • Rhythm – the music of language, how rhythm gives emphasis to key words, different rhythms for different moods, the human heartbeat as the basis for iambic rhythm.

  • The group is divided into four mini-groups, one for each of the Magicians: the Mercator and Flora groups will be more challenging!

  • I read each of the first four Magician sections of the poem aloud, after which the children will comment upon their section – looking at the character picture, discussing the name of the Magician and commenting on rhyme and rhythm. In addition, the Mercator Group will be asked about nouns, the Dawn Group about word association i.e. specifically linked to colours, the Flora Group about verbs and the Prometheus group about adjectives. Each group will identify a favourite line or aspect.


Phase Two


  • This session will start with comments on:

  • Difficult words, like ‘tempestuous’ and how you can ‘work them out’ – partly their sound, partly their context, partly their companion words and, in illustrated books like The Magic Makers, from the pictures.

  • Onomatopoeia – the idea of ‘good sound words’ such as “bracken crackled”.

  • The magic of imagery like “antlered oak” – where images come from, how they work and why they are magical.

  • The Mercator Group will talk about the imagery linked to their Magician; the Dawn Group will look at difficult words; the Flora Group will comment on personification; and the Prometheus Group will find examples of onomatopoeia.

  • Children in groups will prepare and read a four-line section of the poem, giving emphasis to key elements.


Phase Three


  • Finally, we look at the Ariel section of the poem. The Flora Group will be linked to Spring; the Dawn Group to Summer; the Mercator Group to Autumn; and the Prometheus Group to Winter.

  • Each Group will practise and then read their section.

  • Each Group will say what they found most enjoyable and most striking.

Session Three: Children as Language Magicians

Length of Session: 60 Minutes


  • Each group will invent a new Magic Maker e.g. The Waterfall Magician. If this proves to be too difficult, they will have the option of choosing one of my four Magicians and where necessary I would provide a cloze exercise to simplify the writing exercise.

  • They will invent a name for the Magician, perhaps the name of an actual waterfall (e.g. Victoria) or a synonym (e.g. Cascade).

  • They will then write down words and images which they associate with waterfalls. Words to do with power, roaring sounds, splashing, falling, colours. Images – perhaps a cloak of water, the hair of a goddess or an angel, a volcano.

  • Finally, they will assemble these into a four-line verse, using: ten-syllabled lines, rhyming couplets and a selection from the words and images they have assembled. This will involve group activity and responding to each other’s work to promote a supportive approach to the development of writing skills

  • To conclude the session, the end results will be read out.

bottom of page