A Giraffe in a Raffle

poem by Neal Levin , illustrated by Christopher Nielsen

Learning Intention:

I am learning to experiment with poetry techniques such as tone, pacing and language devices in a collaborative manner so that I can build my skills in working creatively with others to compose texts.


Success Criteria:

  • I can share my ideas about a text and listen to the ideas of others
  • I can brainstorm collaboratively to experiment with language and writing
  • I can work cooperatively to compose a group text.


Essential knowledge:

The English Syllabus Glossary can be used to ensure students understand the meaning of different language techniques used in this activity, such as tone, pacing and figurative language.


Oral language and communication:

Distribute magazines to students and ask them to read the poem to themselves silently. Once they have had time to do this, choose two volunteers to read a stanza aloud each in a tone and pace they think is appropriate to the text. Repeat this process three or four times to allow for the reading to be refined and experimented with by different students. Following this, discuss the tone of the poem (e.g. excited, fun) and how the rhythmic flow contributes to this. Ask students why the author would opt for this tone when composing a poem about this topic. For example:

  • A giraffe is very big but not thought of as a threatening animal
  • The idea of having a giraffe brings funny challenges and opportunities
  • Taking a giraffe to school would cause a lot of fascination and excitement among the students and teachers and would bring a lot of positive attention in general
  • The ability to climb up the giraffe’s neck and be much taller than everyone is obviously something that the narrator enjoys.


Understanding text:

Explore the use of figurative language in the poem and how this makes the writing more interesting, asking students to identify any techniques that they are familiar with. Answers should include:

  • ‘wrapped in a patchwork of golden-brown splotches’ (imagery)
  • rip-roaring (alliteration)
  • skyscraper size (alliteration)
  • tallest of all (consonance)


Discuss how the language and tone of the writing may be different if it were a different animal that had been won in the raffle. For example, if an echidna had been won, the poem may have a more cautious tone, one about a rabbit may have a more gentle, cutesy tone, or one about a tiger may have a more ferocious or frightened tone.

Divide students into small groups and have them brainstorm ideas. To do this, each student should come up with an idea for a different animal, and the group should discuss ideas of what the tone of a poem should be for this animal as well as figurative language that may be appropriate to use to describe the animal or the situation it would create. For example:

  • Echidna (will it tickle or prickle, super sniffly snout)
  • Rabbit (covered in cotton wool fur like a cloud, flouncing and bouncing)
  • Tiger (caused a mighty big fright, claws as sharp as swords)

Students should write down their group ideas using bullet points or a mind map.


Creating text:

Once they have completed their brainstorms about all of their animals, they should choose one to write a collaborative poem about, following the theme of winning the animal in a raffle. In their composition, they should consider the tone of their writing, what crazy situations may occur from winning this animal as a prize, and how they can use their figurative language ideas to make their writing more interesting.

Remind students that the goal is to listen to each other, discuss ideas and work collaboratively. Once the poem has been agreed on and written, teachers should check them and give approval for publishing. To do this, students should neatly write their poem on blank paper and may wish to do an accompanying illustration.


Assessment for/of/as learning:


Using an informal assessment strategy such as a student self-assessment 3-2-1 Prompts.

Children are asked to record or explain to a thinking partner:

  • 3 things they didn’t know before.
  • 2 things that surprised them about this topic.
  • 1 thing you want to start doing with what you have learned.