John Foster

children's poet

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.