How to write a poem for kids: tips from an award-winning Nature Detective
Nature is a great inspiration for creative writing. Poems give kids a fun way to work on their language and writing skills and getting outdoors to get ideas flowing gives them some fun screen-free time.
One Nature Detectives member who put his love for woods and trees to paper is Adam, 9, who won the Ted Hughes Young Poets Award 2018. His winning entry, I will plant 9 trees, was written in response to the Hughes poem My own true family. It describes the trees that are important in his life and his ambition to plant 100 trees by the time he turns 17.
We interviewed Adam to find out more about his inspiration and he gave us some great tips for writing a poem, as well as his message to other Nature Detectives. Make sure to read to the end for the award-winning piece!
So Adam, in your poem you speak about your lovely garden, what else inspired your love for trees?
I enjoy my time in gardens and parks. I see the forests when I travel to different places. I love them because I know how important they are in our lives. If this planet had no trees, we would all be dead.
What made you so passionate about protecting and planting trees?
Trees give us shade and a home for many birds and creatures. I love to see green and enjoy seeing new green shoots and leaves grow. I know about deforestation around the world and want to tell people to stop.
Do you have a favourite tree?
I have two favourites. The red oak, Quercus rubra, and the cherries at the back of my garden – Prunus avium. The red oak has beautifully-shaped leaves, like Christmas trees. This was the first red tree I ever saw. The cherry because I love filling my hands with blossom and picking the cherries that birds leave behind. Our cherry trees have the most amazing trunks, with rings going up. They turn a shiny dark purply-brown in the rain.
What are your top tips for writing a poem?
- Be inspired and only write when something inspires you, otherwise your story will be a bit 'bore-y'!
- Write what you know, so your ideas will flow more quickly.
- Write about what you see, hear and smell around you.
- Imagine yourself in the story.
- You don't have to use super-hard words.
What is your message to other Nature Detectives looking to help woods and trees?
Try to protect everything from new young shoots to ancient giants but do not be so protective that people cannot get close to trees. It would be too obsessive to put electric fences around our trees. We have to be able to be near them.
I will plant 9 trees
by Adam Rafael Holmes
Right, now I am 9, I will plant 9 trees.
If each year I plant my age
Then by the time I am 17,
I will achieve one of man’s life’s aims.
No, not to drive my heirloom Z3,
But to plant 100 trees!
This is more than the promise I made
When the Oak Tree set me free.
Travelling to my garden in Sussex
Massive forests and mountains of trees
Rush past the train windows
And as I now know,
It is the willows who are moving
When our train slows.
They travel to visit friends
In other forests and by the sea.
The first sight of them means fresh air
Relief from our coughs
A space for grasshoppers and bees.
I walk through the gate
Smell the brambles and bark
Fresh air and shade
The relief of a place cool and dark.
I love the way the leaves sway
When the wind pushes through.
The little birds hatch and play,
Fighting off cats
Attacking their habitats.
chirping of the birds,
The thud now and again in the wheelbarrow below
Of apples crashing down
As the trees say hello.
The oak stands solid
A trunk topped by a green elfin hat.
Birds line up on his branch
And with a wiggle and tickle,
Make his long arms wave.
The tree answers with a whirlpool
Tossing the birds deep inside
Landing on a soft bed of moss
The birds try to hide.
The woodpecker makes a hole
For them to fly out and begin again.
Now, where have my magpies gone?
The tree asks if he has won.
In the Spring shoots appear,
Leaves are forming
So the trees are green
With many twigs and sticks in between.
Later in the Summer,
The trees are full of delight,
Each like a big green balloon
Reaching its ultimate height.
Now, Summer’s ended, the balloons can swell no more
Autumn will turn the leaves yellow, orange and red.
The balloon very nearly bursts
But then in Winter,
The trees will stretch and rest their heads.
The air slowly seeps out
With the leaves dropping from the tree.
Spring will bring new life and its green canopy.
I don’t want people to chop down more trees.
There is no need to use wood for homes or heating
Or palm oil for eating.
You can use concrete or painted cement.
Yes, plastic is bad for all life on Earth
But deforestation to use paper instead
Will take away our oxygen, shade and much food
An end to the forest animals’ birth.
Feeling motivated to save some trees?
Become a family member today to get natural inspiration for kids and families. Nature Detectives means kids get exciting seasonal mailings in the post chock full of fun ideas and awesome activities, all while supporting the protection of our native woods and trees.