John Foster

children's poet


John has recently written three books in the Jumpstart! series published by Routledge.


Jumpstart! Study Skills

Jumpstart! Study Skills presents a range of interview papers that enable children to learn how to work independently and with others, and to develop the study skills necessary to succeed in their schoolwork.

The activities provide opportunities for the children to learn:

  • to plan how to carry out investigations and assignment
  • to ask relevant questions, considering problems and suggesting how to solve them, predicting outcomes and anticipating consequences
  • how to locate and collect information, carrying out research using the internet, how to gather information from books, using reading techniques such as skimming and scanning, and how to collect information by observation and fieldwork.
  • how to sift and record data, for example, by taking notes and putting data on the computer
  • how to analyse data and draw conclusions
  • how to present and report their findings, orally and in writing, for example, making a power point presentation, making a video or doing a role play
  • how to manage their time, how to revise and prepare for tests and how and to work effectively in teams
  • how to evaluate and assess what they have achieved and to identify targets to work towards.

It includes a range of classroom activities that can be used by the class teacher to develop active learning in Key Stage 2.

This resource will enable children to develop the essential skills required to plan and carry out projects, researching and reporting their findings and consequently to develop their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.


Jumpstart! Talk for Learning by Lyn Dawes and John Foster

Jumpstart! Talk for Learning offers games and activities for 7-12 year olds to promote children’s effective use of talk. Specifically written to help teachers with the direct teaching of talk skills required by the National Curriculum, it contains activities that can be used in literacy lessons and across the curriculum.

Children are encouraged to:

  • participate in group and class discussions
  • use exploratory talk and share a range of points of view
  • use talk imaginatively to develop understanding
  • develop individual presentational talk
  • take part in drama sessions.

The book helps teachers to develop children’s ability to use talk so that they will understand one another and learn to work co-operatively to get things done.


Jumpstart! PSHE

Jumpstart! PSHE offers a wealth of practical activities for 7-12 year olds that will help teachers to deliver effective and imaginative PSHE lessons, encouraging children to:

  • share their views on issues that concern them such as bullying
  • begin to think for themselves and to make their own decisions
  • be aware of the dangers involved in drinking, smoking and drugtaking
  • understand their relationships with family and friends
  • explore social issues such as prejudice and discrimination
  • learn how to handle their emotions.

‘ No PSHE lesson should be prepared without first looking through this book.’ -  Amazon book review.

Teaching Values

Teaching Values through PSHE and Citizenship by John Foster ( Brilliant Publications)

ISBN 978 1783 172030 e-book 978 1783 172054

Teaching Values Through PSHE and Citizenship provides teachers of years 5-8 with activities that will enable them to, fulfil the requirement to promote the spiritual., moral, social and cultural development of children aged 9-13. It presents activities which promote the fundamental values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section Beliefs, Values and Behaviour focuses on what attitudes and values the children believe should determine behaviour towards others, on the qualities they admire in other people, on what they consider to be good manners and on what they take into consideration when making important decisions.

The second section Rules and Responsibilities focuses on the rules that govern people’s lives and the responsibilities they have as family members, as neighbours, at school and as citizens. It includes activities that encourage children to discuss what sort of country they want to live in, what they consider the government’s priorities should be, why we have laws and attitudes to crime and to the police force.

The third section Respecting people’s rights looks at human rights, exploring issues of stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination, sexism and racism. There are also activities on respecting other people’s religions and cultures and on global concerns.

Developing Literacy Skills

The Works 8
MacMillan (ISBN 978-0-330-46407-9) £7.99

The Works 8Entertaining as well as educational, this comprehensive anthology contains every shape, style and form of poem that you will need to teach poetry in the primary classroom. The sixty-four different types of poem are arranged alphabetically and the selection includes examples of less well-known forms such as clerihews, tanka and triolets along with popular forms such as acrostics, haiku, cinquains, kennings, epitaphs and raps.

Rhyming Dictionaries

Two rhyming dictionaries that will help children not only to find rhymes, but also with their spelling.


Oxford First Rhyming Dictionary
Oxford University Press (ISBN 978-0-19-911682-9)

OUP First Rhyming Dictionary'John Foster's colourful and accessible First Rhyming Dictionary is a wonderful resource for young writers. Containing 1,200 rhyming words, it pays special attention to words that rhyme but are spelled differently. There are 60 original poems too, plus humorous artwork.'   Junior Education.


Oxford Junior Rhyming Dictionary
Oxford University Press (ISBN 978-0-19-911683-6)

'The primary use of a rhyming dictionary is as an aid to writing rhyming poetry. This one scores over others of its genre by virtue of the fact that the author, John Foster, is a popular children's poet experienced in motivating children to write. A 13-page chapter called 'Wrote your own poetry' serves as an introduction to a range of simple poetic forms and rhyming patterns. It includes a wealth of infectious examples and starters that make the idea of writing poems seem not only inviting but positively easy.'   Michael Kirby.


Developing Reading Skills


The Glow-worms series is the poetry strand of the Oxford Reading Tree. The books feature poems by well-known contemporary children's poets on themes that have been specially chosen to match topics that are relevant to children aged 4-8.

The books:

  • are designed to be used to introduce poetry in the classroom
  • are linked to themes in the Oxford Reading Tree stories, so can be used in conjunction with them
  • use a core of high frequency words
  • develop phonological skills through rhyme, alliteration and spelling patterns
  • are illustrated in a wide range of styles to enhance children's enjoyment of poetry

Read more: Developing Reading Skills

Upcoming Events

Information on school visits, poetry events, workshops and competitions can be found in Latest News.


New Resources

Fun With Words

Fun with Words is a book of creative activities focussing on words, designed for use with more able KS2 pupils.

It provides activities that the children will enjoy doing and that will make learning about words fun. By playing with words the children will not only extend their vocabularies, but will also come to understand how words work, how they can be used and how they are made. A key feature of the activity sheets is that many of them contain poems which make the activities more interesting.

The activities show how words can be built up and changed, for example by creating compound words and discovering anagrams. The children are encouraged to solve and create riddles and to experiment with words in a variety of wordplay activities, such as finding words hidden within words, and exploring jokes that are based on homophones. There are also activities focussing on word origin and obsolete words and pupils are invited to coin new words and to think of rhyming synonyms and adverbial puns.

The activities are designed for pupils who are expected to achieve levels 5 and 6 and can be used with either individuals or groups. The emphasis is on children having the opportunity to learn that playing with words can be fun, while at the same time enabling them to develop their language skills


The Age of the Dinosaurs – A musical

‘The Age of the Dinosaurs’ a musical consisting of 14 of John’s poems, set to music by award-winning music teacher Matthew Coatsworth, was performed by children from Kidlington primary schools at the Kidstock Festival in July.
A copy of the lyrics and the linking narration, a CD of the songs and the sheet music for the piano are available to teachers interested in putting on a performance. Either contact John or contact Matthew Coatsworth at West Kidlington Primary School, Oxfordshire.


Let’s Write – Activities to Develop the Writing Skills of 7-11 year olds

To be published in January 2014 by Routledge

Let’s Write offers a wealth of suggestions for approaches to developing primary school pupils’ writing skills that will capture the children’s interest, while enabling them to improve their ability to express themselves in writing. It aims to meet the requirements of the new national curriculum for English at KS2 in a way that will develop the children’s standard of writing by presenting activities that they will find enjoyable and stimulating.

Throughout the book, the emphasis is on providing activities that will engage the pupils in a discussion of how texts are structured, before producing their own writing. John Foster suggests a range of imaginative tasks that both literacy specialists and non-specialists will find useful in developing children’ ability to write coherently and correctly.

Let’s Write includes:

  • A clear explanation of the writing process with activities designed to improve pupils’ drafting skills.
  • Examples of the different types of writing for pupils to analyse, which they can use as models for their own writing.
  • A range of imaginative ideas for writing tasks, together with suggestions of curriculum opportunities for practising particular forms.
  • Writing challenges which can be used to stretch more able writers and thus to introduce differentiation by task, as well as by outcome.
  • Writing tips, for example, on sentence structure and paragraph structure, appropriate to the different types of writing.
  • Activities involving pupils in the assessment of their writing.
  • A section on writing correctly, focussing on grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  • A section containing games and activities designed to extend pupils’ vocabulary.

Let’s Write provides teachers with a lively collection of resources that will be welcomed by teachers and that will help to develop children’s writing.


Learning About Language – Activities for the Primary Classroom

This recent book provides a comprehensive coverage of everything that the primary school pupil needs to know about the English language. The book provides teachers of literacy with clear explanations of the terms that pupils need to know, arranged alphabetically for ease of reference, together with details of activities that can be used to develop pupil’s understanding of the English language.

A particular feature of the book is that it contains a number of poems, designed to present key information about features of language in a lively and original manner. The aim is to foster an interest in words and how they fit together, to provide ways of playing with words and to make exploring the English language fun.

Each section focuses on a different feature of the English language. The various sections

  • examine subjects such as spelling, punctuation and grammar
  • explore aspects of words such as their origin and meaning, their similarities and differences e.g. homonyms, anagrams and synonyms
  • explain particular uses of language for example, in the sections on clichés, idioms, metaphors and similes
  • show how language is used humorously in jokes, puns and riddles and by poets using wordplay in forms such as limericks. There are also sections on the humorous misuse of words – on malapropisms and spoonerisms
  • include numerous opportunities for students to consolidate their learning in a variety of activities, including word games.

The book, provides teachers of English, both specialists and non-specialists, with a lively bank of resources for learning about the English language.

Learning About Language is published by Routledge in.

ISBN 978-0-415-53681-3 (pbk)
ISBN 978-0-203-11116-1 (ebk)


John Foster’s other recently published books include Cool Cars and Amazing Escapes in the Collins Big Cat series.