Learning Resources

School students and a teacher on a an Arvon writing course

Resources and activities for creative writing projects in schools, youth and community groups or at home, from Arvon and beyond.

Writing with your students at school, in a home-school context, or as a family, can be a brilliant way to enhance children’s and young people’s motivation to learn, to foster their enjoyment of language, and to promote their overall education and wellbeing. 

The resources below, some from Arvon and many more from other partners, writers and organisations, offer a range of prompts, resources, exercises and guidance to help you explore creativity and imagination, and embed creative writing as a tool for learning. 



Arvon has been offering residential creative writing courses for schools, groups and individuals, led by professional authors, at our three rural writing houses since 1968. 

Many of our projects cater specifically to the needs of particular partners or audiences – we’re pleased to be able to share the learning from this work in our free resource packs below. These contain useful guidance, exercises and writing prompts that can be used in school, a youth group, at home or in any other context working with young people. 


Writing the Game Learning Resource (NEW!)

Football as a gateway into the imagination – a learning resource to develop creative writing projects with young people 

[Free PDF download here – no login required]

Writing the Game channels young people’s love of football to engage them with writing and learning. Since 2009 the project has benefited over 150 young people from disadvantaged areas in London, Plymouth and South Yorkshire, in partnership with Barnsley, Crystal Palace, Leyton Orient and Plymouth Argyle Football Clubs.

Using football as source material and inspiration, the project uses young people’s own interests and passions to inspire their writing, introducing new ways to engage with literature and journalism, and giving them the chance to attend their local football ground to be sports reporters for the day. 

We are delighted to present the Writing the Game Learning Resource, a new free publication which presents activities and exercises from this project for anyone to use with groups of young people. Designed to be suitable for schools, sports clubs or youth groups, the resource contains guidance on how to run every element of a Writing the Game course, and each exercise can also be adapted and used as a standalone activity. 

Suggested standalone exercises to print for home learning: 

  • Page 17, Exercises 4 and 5 – ‘Match Fit: Football makes me feel like…’ and ‘Dressing room banter – found poetry’. 
  • Pages 20-21 Exercises 9 and 10: ‘Striker, Goalie, Ref: Concentrating language’ and ‘Keepy Uppies: Kennings and word play’. 

To find out more about the Writing the Game project including evaluation reports and a short film, visit the case study page: Writing the Game. Printed copies will be available once our office reopens later this year. 


(M)Other Tongues Learning Resource 

Developing creative writing with bilingual and multilingual young people 

[Free PDF download here – no login required]

Arvon’s (M)Other Tongues project worked with bilingual and multilingual young people across England, supporting them to explore their heritage and to develop their writing both in English and in their home language or languages. Participants included speakers of Portuguese, Yoruba, Somali, Urdu, Mirpuri, Romani and young people of French-speaking African and Caribbean heritage. 

The (M)Other Tongues Learning Resource includes exercises and guidance for working with multilingual learners in both smaller and larger groups, and provides a pathway from introductory to advanced activities to help young writers develop new ideas and refine their work in poetry, prose and drama. 

Suggested standalone exercises to print for home learning: 

  • Page 19, Exercise 2: ‘My life as a river’.
  • Page 24, Exercise 4: ‘Mind Mapping’.

To find out more about the (M)Other Tongues project including evaluation reports and a list of writers who can deliver multilingual creative writing projects, visit the case study page: (M)Other Tongues.  


Arvon Writers’ Hub – Tips & Exercises

You can find more writing exercises and tips from Arvon tutors, including many that can be adapted for young writers, on the Tips & Exercises section of our Writers’ Hub – become an Arvon Friend for full access. 



There are a wealth of resources available to access online from organisations and writers across the literature sector and beyond. There’s plenty more to find if you search around but to save you time we’ve collected some of the most useful sources here. 


Writing resources and exercises 

The British LibraryDiscovering Children’s Books: Lots of reading and writing resources engaging with the children’s books collection at the BL, including 10 poetry prompts from children’s poet and author Joseph Coelho.

BookTrustHometime, including Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell reading How to Train Your Dragon, illustration tutorials with Ed Vere and much more. 

National Writing Day 24th June 2020 – register your interest to be kept up-to-date on ways to get involved in this national celebration of writing for schools, young people and families.

The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) – free literacy teaching resources around reading for pleasure and engaging with picture books and poetry. Includes Poetry Line, which hosts videos of 33 leading poets reading their own poems aloud. 

National Literacy TrustFamily Zone: lots of useful resources to support reading and writing while homeschooling. 

The Poetry SocietyLearning From Home: a fantastic list of resources from the Poetry Society’s education team, including video lessons from leading UK poets. 

United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA)10 ways to make every child a writer (Teachwire). 

Simon Mole (Children’s author and poet) – Poems, raps and writing games for kids (YouTube channel) – you can also join Simon’s free Live Online Poetry Workshops every Tuesday, for ages 5-11. 

Pobble365 – a daily story starter and picture prompt to help spark your imagination. 

English & Media Centre – lots of free English resources for home learning, plus a £10 offer for their Just Write resource pack. 

Michael RosenKids’ poems and stories in video form, with the former Children’s Laureate.

Radio BloggingA daily radio show by writers and teachers, encouraging children to write, and a platform to share their writing. 

Society for Children’s Book Writers and IllustratorsSCBWI Connects: a categorised archive of activities by published writers and illustrators who are SCBWI members. 

The Writing for Pleasure Centrefree online training for anyone who would like to teach creative writing: Includes the Writing for Pleasure Manifesto which outlines why finding the fun in creative writing is so important for overall education and wellbeing.  

Academy of American PoetsMaterials for teachers, including lesson plans and poems for young readers ordered by theme. 

National Writing ProjectDaily Prompts: a new 10-minute writing exercise posted every day. 


Things to read and listen to

Poetry ArchiveThe Children’s Poetry Archive, with audio recordings of some of the world’s best poems for children and young people. 

Audible Storiesfree audiobooks for children (no login required). 

Poetry Foundation – a huge online archive of poems and criticism; sign up for Poem of the Day emails. 

Ministry of StoriesShort story podcasts by young writers from East London. 

Poems by young writers – see Kate Clanchy’s Twitter feed

Nine Arches PressVideo Poems (YouTube). 

Not enough books at home? The Big Green Bookshop lets people #buyastrangerabook every Wednesday – just tweet or DM @BigGreenBooks on any Wednesday to say you’d like a book. 


Comics, cartoons and illustration 

Lots of free comics and cartoons to read at GoComics. Popular series include: Calvin and Hobbes, Cul de Sac, Zen Pencils, Sarah’s Scribbles

Illustrations to finish off and colour in, from Quentin Blake.  

How to draw… A series of step-by-step guides by children’s book illustrators (The Guardian). 

How to write a comic book scene – Worksheets on how to adapt any story to create a comic (Scottish Book Trust). 

Comic Book Paper – Free downloadable templates with a huge range of layouts to help you create your own comic book pages.  


Opportunities and competitions

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is open for applications from anyone aged 11-17, until 31st July 2020. This year’s judges are Maura Dooley and Keith Jarrett, and winners get the opportunity to attend an Arvon residential course in 2021. 

Love Sheffield Writing Competition: open April 1st until 31st July to anyone living or working in Sheffield, with categories for all ages. 

Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal: Call for submissions, inspirational poetry (Young people 13-16 & adults). Deadline 31st December 2020. 

National Poetry Library – Competitions: A live list of current poetry competitions, regularly updated by the NPL team. 

For a regularly updated list of general opportunities and competitions (including some that are only open to over-18s) see our Opportunities page. 


General resources, things to write about, and advice 

UCL – Free online learning resources from the Institute of Education. 

Looking for inspiration or things to write about? Online resources from the Smithsonian Institution

Why not start an ekphrastic piece of writing (i.e. inspired by art) using the Tate’s online collections.  

ChatterPack – a huge list of links to online learning resources, arts and culture from across the world. 

‘Let your kids get bored‘: emergency advice from teachers on schooling at home (The Guardian)  

Some good advice from therapist and broadcaster Philippa Perry on how to create a positive and cooperative learning environment (Twitter). 

A dyslexic author’s writing tips for dyslexic kids – Tom McLaughlin (The Guardian).  


[Overwhelmed by the list? Make your own – use a link-saving service like Pocket, or save favourite links as bookmarks in your browser.]

Have we missed something really good? Want even more recommendations or advice in any of these areas? Drop us a line on learning@arvon.org