Inspiring Children to Love Reading and Writing


Pop Up Projects, in association with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), has presented a series of workshops for teachers and authors to explore, engage and experiment with ways to bring books to life. 

Four participants in the Pop Up Lab conference

Pop Up Lab took the form of a one-day practice-sharing conference, held in Swansea’s Village Hotel on 17 October, enabling participants to discover new and imaginative ways to nurture a love of reading and writing in the classroom.

The Pop Up Lab focused on cross-curricular creativity through children’s literature in the classroom. The practice shared by authors and teachers has been tried and tested during Pop Up Festival, a national children’s literature festival bringing books to life in schools across the UK, including for the last three years in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot with support from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The participating schools were:

  • Gwyrosydd Primary School, Swansea
  • Awel y Môr Primary School, Port Talbot
  • Coedffranc Primary School, Neath
  • Trallwn Primary School, Swansea
  • Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Tirdeunaw, Swansea

Pop Up Lab was presented in association with the UWTSD’s Athrofa, Institute of Education which has been evaluating Pop Up’s work in Wales.

Dr Alex Southern, from Yr Athrofa said: “Pop Up Lab is an exciting opportunity for educators and creative practitioners to share ideas for inspiring a love of reading and writing in the classroom, that’s packed with practical, hands on activities. Yr Athrofa is delighted to be working with Pop Up to support the event. It was great to hear from inspirational teachers and writers, and we hope that creativity continues to thrive in classrooms across Wales”.

Author Polly Ho-Yen draws on a flipchart.

Featured authors during the day included Helen Docherty, Polly Ho-Yen, Jay Hulme, Cheryl Moskowitz and Christopher William Hill who led a range of workshops. 

Helen Docherty and teacher Liz Jenkins from Gwyrosydd Primary School in Swansea demonstrated how to use stories to build confidence, expand vocabulary, explore emotions and promote empathy.

  • Polly Ho-Yen explored different strategies to start writing creatively through visual exploration and collaboration;
  • Christopher William Hill used maps as a starting point to explore simple strategies for three-dimensional world creation as a springboard into story writing;
  • Cheryl Moskowitz, and SEN teacher Maryon Shaddock from Kent showed how poetry is a universal language; and
  • with Pop Up, University of Nottingham researchers Drs Jenny Elliott, Pat Thomson and Christine Hall have developed a new imaginative tool for teachers and students to talk about, assess and develop their creativity in the classroom, which Jenny Elliott introduced in a workshop.

The workshops were intended to help participants learn from teachers’ experience of working with authors in the classroom as well as developing new, practical ideas for reading, writing and creativity within Wales’ new Areas of Learning and Experience to be launched as part of the new curriculum in 2022.  Participants also had the opportunity to make, draw, or write creatively themselves.  The day ended with keynote speech “A poet’s guide to not paying attention in class” by Jay Hulme, performer, public speaker, and author of a number of poetry collections for adults, young children and teenagers.

Franziska Liebig, from Pop Up Projects said: “Pop Up Projects are excited to be able to share learning and best practice that has emerged from authors and teachers collaborating imaginatively in five South Wales schools over three years, empowering teachers to teach more creatively and improving pupils' reading and writing skills. Through our national children's literature festival we enabled 5,500 pupils to experience 180 creative workshops and meet authors as writer-role models, also replenishing school libraries with 1,750 books. We thank Yr Athrofa at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David for their invaluable support in making this Pop Up Lab possible.”

For more information about Pop Up Projects, please visit   

A presenter holds up a cut-out paper heart shaded in purple, pink and red.