A Newborn Joey

poem by Beverly McLoughland , illustrated by Lesley McGee

Learning intentions:

I am learning to explore the use of relating verbs so that I can construct definitions and descriptions.


Success criteria:

  • I can identify relating verbs.
  • I can explain how tense and singular vs plural nouns require different relating verbs.
  • I can use relating verbs correctly to create non-fiction texts.


Essential knowledge:


After reading the poem, brainstorm with students what facts they know about kangaroos. This can be diet, behaviour, habitat, anatomy etc. Encourage students to use the information they learnt from the poem, such as newborn joeys are pink and hairless, joeys drink milk, joeys crawl to the pouch when they’re first born.


Turn to the contents page of the magazine, which is page 3. There students will find the word of the month, which is menagerie. Discuss the meaning of the word. Students go through the magazine and make a list of the animals featured.


Animals featured in this issue of Countdown:

Panda ant






Monster (optional, for students who would like to be more creative)




Komodo dragon









Explain that students will select four or five of these animals to include in an imaginary menagerie. They are to make a brochure to publicise the animals in their menagerie. Each animal should include an illustration and text describing details about their habitat, behaviour and diet.


Use the information from the brainstorm about kangaroos to write an example text on the board. This could look like:

Kangaroos are native to Australia. They have powerful hind legs for jumping and a muscular tail for balancing. They are found widely across the continent and are active during dawn, dusk and night. They eat mostly grass.


Highlight the relating verbs in the sample text. (Relating verbs: am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been, have, has, had.)


Write the following on the board:

  1. Kangaroos were native to Australia.
  2. Kangaroos is native to Australia.


Ask students why these two phrases are incorrect. Students should answer that the use of “were” in the first phrase means it would be in the past, as if kangaroos were no longer native to Australia. They should also identify that the use of “is” in the second phrase is incorrect because the word kangaroos is plural (more than one) and needs the relating verb “are”.


Write the following on the board:

  1. They had powerful hind legs.
  2. They has powerful hind legs.


Repeat the activity, asking why the sentences are incorrect and ensuring students understand the need for the correct tense and relating verb for plurals.


Give students time to research their chosen four or five animals and to write a few describing sentences. Remind students to use the correct relating verb, depending on tense and whether they are using a singular or plural noun. Students who have selected monster may make up their information and illustration.


When students have researched their animals, spend some time explaining the purpose and features of a brochure. (A brochure is a small book (a piece of paper folded several times will suffice) that explains a product and usually includes pictures. It should be eye-catching, colourful, not too detailed and easy to read.)


Students make a brochure for their menagerie with their researched animals.