Advanced search

Browse your search results by sector:

Browse by audience:


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. 

separator bar

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.  

Register to take part

separator bar

How does 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/settings to register will receive a free poster!

Register to take part

separator bar

What supporting resources are available?

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

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

separator bar

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/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, so your pupils’ writing could be read by thousands of people!

Register to take part


separator bar

How do I submit entries?

Any student aged between seven and 14 (Years 3-9) and based in the UK can enter the Descriptosaurus Time Machine competition.

To submit your students’ work, you will need to complete an entry form and send it, along with their entries, to before 5pm on Monday 17 April 2017. You can also submit your entries and the entry form by post to Descriptosaurus Time Machine, National Literacy Trust, 68 South Lambeth Road, London, SW8 1RL.

Download entry form

Please make sure you have read the competition rules before submitting your entries.

Download competition rules

[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.