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Descriptosaurus Time Machine

This competition is now closed. Results will appear here soon. 

Students used the popular Descriptosaurus books as inspiration for their own piece of descriptive writing set in a particular period of time. 

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What was it all about?

Descriptosaurus front coverOur research shows that children who enjoy writing very much are seven times more likely to write above the level expected for their age compared with children and young people who do not enjoy writing at all. Similarly, children and young people who write outside school daily are five times more likely to be writing above the expected level for their age compared with young people who never write outside school[1]. We also know that tapping into children’s interests is a great way of engaging them in learning.

With this in mind, and following on from our hugely successful competition in 2013, we again teamed up with Routledge and their popular Descriptosaurus series to provide teachers with a platform to promote writing for enjoyment, purpose and audience. By giving students the chance to write about a time period that appealed to them, coupled with inspiration from the Descriptosaurus books, we aimed to unlock their passion for writing.  

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How did it work?

Using the Descriptosaurus series as inspiration, we challenged students to produce 350 words of descriptive writing set in a specific time period. Their writing should have been historically accurate* meaning thorough research as well as high-quality writing was essential. All students who completed a piece of writing could be entered into the competition in one of the following categories:

  • Lower Key Stage 2 (Years 3 and 4)
  • Upper Key Stage 2 (Years 5 and 6)
  • Key Stage 3 (Years 7, 8 and 9)

DescriptosaurusTheir writing could be set in any period of time - past, present or future - and pupils could use any stimulus they liked for inspiration. Teachers had the option to give their pupils free rein to choose what period they wanted to write about, or they could integrate the competition task into a topic that the class were working on.

*We used historically accurate here to mean students’ writing should contain accurate period detail but did not necessarily have to recount actual events. For example, if they chose to write about the Romans they could research detail such as dress and location but they did not have to write about real people. Likewise, if a student chose to write in the future they should have thought realistically about what life might be like then. 

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What supporting resources were available?

Descriptosaurus poster imageSchools/settings could access a free downloadable teaching resource featuring ideas for incorporating the competition task into class time.

They could also download a class poster that could be displayed in the school/setting to promote the competition. The first 500 schools/settings to register were sent a printed copy of the poster.

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What were the prizes?

Routledge RGBWe are currently in the process of judging entries and details of the winners and runners up will appear here soon.

The overall winner and the winners and runners up in each category will be selected by a panel of judges including representatives from Routledge and the National Literacy Trust.

For the overall winner:

  • £50 worth of book vouchers
  • An eReader

For the school/setting of the overall winner:

  • £250 worth of Routledge books for the classroom
  • Membership to the National Literacy Trust Network (or a free renewal for existing members)
  • A visit from Alison Wilcox, author of Descriptosaurus, to run writing workshops for the pupils as well as training for the staff

In each age category, a first and second prize winner will also be chosen:

  • First prize: £100 worth of Routledge books for the school/setting plus £50 worth of book vouchers for the pupil
  • Second prize: £50 worth of Routledge books for the school/setting plus £20 worth of book vouchers for the pupil

All shortlisted entries will be featured in a gallery on the National Literacy Trust website for all to see.

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[1] Clark, C. (2016). Children’s and Young People’s Writing in 2015. Findings from the National Literacy Trust’s annual survey. London: National Literacy Trust


The National Literacy Trust is a registered charity no. 1116260 and a company limited by guarantee no. 5836486 registered in England and Wales and a registered charity in Scotland no. SC042944.
Registered address: 68 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1RL.