Winter Poems from Westoe Crown and Pen Pals

Published: 3rd March 2019

We’ve just installed our next exhibition in the Step Up Gallery on route to The Customs House cinema. Whilst we might have enjoyed a very warm February please remember this time last year there was snow on the ground!



This Step Up exhibition comes from young writers and artists at Westoe Crown Primary and East Boldon Juniors. It’s predominantly an exhibition of poetry.



We hand over to Leanne Collin Year 2 teacher from Westow Crown to tell us more.

‘Westoe Crown developed the project as an opportunity for the children to engage with children in other Artsmark schools. The main aims were to promote a passion for creative writing and spark enthusiasm to write for a real-life purpose.’

Artsmark provides a clear framework for teachers to plan, develop and evaluate arts, culture and creativity across the curriculum.  The Customs House is an Artsmark partner organisation.

The Project

The children were highly motivated and engaged to reach the end outcome of having their work displayed in an anthology and the Step Up Gallery. The first session of the project was in The Customs House for the children to meet their pen pal from East Boldon Juniors.

They used talk for writing and took part in ice breaker games to get to know their new friends.  The ‘Winter’ brief was broad to allow children the opportunity to apply their own interests and ideas.  Their ideas included a variety of poems, stories and setting descriptions with some fantastic accompanying art work.

The second session was held in the animation room at The Word.  Images, sounds and music projected around the room to create a ‘winter’ atmosphere as the children worked on their pieces.  The session included some role play using scenes from The Snow Queen projected onto the walls. Between sessions the children sent letters to their pen pal to find out more about them and about their winter writing project.

Elizabeth Kane Learning Officer at The Customs House visited school to talk to the children about their work and collect it for The Step Up Gallery. The work is now displayed for children to visit with their families. Their poems will also be considered for The Terry Kelly Poetry Prize and be published the annual anthology.

Feeling Inspired?

Could you help a young writer in your family pen a poem? Now in it’s fourth year The Terry Kelly Poetry Prize is open for entries from young poets aged 5 to 25 years. To find out more including details of how to enter visit:

Want to Know More About Artsmark?

Artsmark is the creative quality standard for schools, accredited by Arts Council England. It brings many benefits to schools and students. Artsmark will help your school take its art and cultural education to the next level. To find out more about Artsmark visit

If you are a North East School, thinking about signing up The Forge works in partnership with Culture Bridge North East to deliver training and guidance on Artsmark. For more details about the programme contact us on or call 01207 284 515.

If your school has already started their Artsmark journey, The Customs House can help support you. We’ve considered at the benefits Artsmark for children and how The Customs House schools’ and artistic programming support these goals.

For more information about our work with schools please visit our page about Schools. Colleges and Universities.