A History Through Chimneys

poem by Kaye Baillie , illustrated by Gabriel Evans

Learning intention: 

I am learning to identify how different viewpoints are represented in texts so that I can make connections with my own experiences. 

Success criteria: 

  • I can identify the viewpoint in a text. 
  • I can consider a different viewpoint in the same text. 
  • I can write a connecting text using my own experience.  

Essential knowledge: 

Information about identifying reliable sources of information can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Perspective. Focus on the section talking about the author’s perspective. 

Read the poem aloud to the class. Display the illustration. Ask students to identify the following: 

  1. What the poem was about (musing over the history of the chimneys).
  2. Whose point of view it was from (an onlooker).
  3. Why the illustration of house is transparent (the house is no longer standing; only the chimneys remain).

Explain that the onlooker musing the history of the place doesn’t know for sure that the events in the poem happened. Ask students who might know. Possible answers include: the people who lived in the house, an older person from the area, a historian. If it isn’t mentioned, ask students to consider the chimneys themselves. If the chimneys could tell their story in free verse, what would they say? 

As a class, create a short poem describing the history from the chimneys’ point of view. Discuss what life might have been like in the previous generation, or the generation before that. Students can use elements from the original poem to brainstorm what could be included in the poem. While a sample text is below, give students a chance to explore their own thoughts. 

We chimneys stand rooted to the ground like ancient trees. 

The house between us long fallen apart. 

We used to warm families over time 

but now we are only visited by birds. 


A mother breathed life to the flame in our bellies, 

chilly mornings making steam of her breath. 

While her baby slept, snuggled deeply in blankets, 

She would bake a loaf of bread in our fires. 


Once the class poem is complete, students are to write a free verse poem of their own design, using the point of view of a place they know well to tell stories about the history they might have seen. Examples of topics could be: 

  • A History Through an Old Library Book 
  • A History Through the School Administration Block
  • A History of my Home
  • A History of the Beach Jetty 

Students are to use the general structure of the original poem to explore what life was like over several generations in their chosen place. It might help if students first brainstorm what each stanza (verse) could be about and/or to research the history of the area they’ve chosen to give them ideas.