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Descriptosaurus Time Machine

30 January to 17 April 2017

Students use 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's 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 have 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 appeals to them, coupled with inspiration from the Descriptosaurus books, we aim to unlock their passion for writing.  

Take part

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How will it work?

Using the Descriptosaurus series as inspiration, we are challenging students to produce 350 words of descriptive writing set in a specific time period. Their writing should be historically accurate* meaning thorough research as well as high-quality writing is essential. All students who complete a piece of writing can 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 can be set in any period of time - past, present or future - and pupils may use any stimulus they like for inspiration. Teachers have the option to give their pupils free rein to choose what period they want to write about, or they can integrate the competition task into a current topic that the class are working on.

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

Free poster!

The first 500 schools to register will receive a free class poster!

Register to take part

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What supporting resources will be available?

Every school/setting that takes part will be able to access a free downloadable teaching resource featuring ideas for incorporating the competition task into class time. They will also be able to download a class poster that can be displayed in the school to promote the competition. The first 500 schools to register will be sent a printed copy of the poster.

The resources will be available here once the competition launches on 30 January.

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What are the prizes?

Routledge RGBThe 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 plus £50 worth of book vouchers for the pupil
  • Second prize: £50 worth of Routledge books for the school 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, so your pupils’ writing could be read by thousands of people!

Take part

[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.