Animal Animation

poem by Shan O’Shea , illustrated by Sarah Davis

Learning Intention:

I am learning how to listen for key points in a spoken text so that I can create a visual representation of the poem.

Success Criteria:

  • I can attentively listen to a poem and identify key details.
  • I can visually represent key details in the poem.
  • I can compare my representation with those of my peers.

Essential Knowledge:

More information about how representations vary and can depend on experience and context can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Representation.

Before introducing the poem to students, play the ice breaker game ‘Describe It, Draw It’. In this activity, students will complete a drawing in partners. One partner will describe the images on their sheet. The other partner will draw what their partner describes. They cannot see the illustration and must rely on their partner’s description. After they have drawn their representation of the image, they compare it with the original.

After the ice breaker, explain that students will be conducting a similar activity on one of the poems in the magazine. However, explain that the task will be more challenging, and the results will be more varied. This is because students will have to make choices about how they represent the characters and objects in the poem. Differentiate between an object that is represented neutrally, like a shape (circle, square, triangle) and an object like a dragon. The representation of a dragon will depend on the person’s experiences (have they read a book or watched a film about a particular dragon) and their cultural background (Chinese dragons look different to Welsh dragons).

Listen to the audio recording of the poem once so that students can grasp an understanding of its overall meaning. This is a nonsense poem which shows the unlimited nature of a child’s imagination as the animal the speaker invents is a highly creative combination of animal features and everyday objects.

Read the poem again, slowly. Ask students to write down the key points that stick out to them and that they will include in their visual representation of their animal. Students are likely to identify the concrete details: dozen eyes or more, railway track, buttons for toes, etc.

You may wish to read the poem a few more times as necessary so that students have a good grasp of the details in the poem.

Provide students with time to draw a detailed representation of the animal. Students should add colour and label the features of their animal.

Provide students with a written copy of the poem. Students identify the details that they overlooked. Many of these may be vaguer statements such as the fact that the animal is ‘fast and fierce and tall’. Collect a class list of key points that were not included in students’ representations using interactive software such as Mentimeter.

Finally, students should compare their representation to Sarah Davis’s illustration. Discuss whether her representation of the animal is scary or welcoming (answers will vary, though students are likely to identify its friendly facial expression). Then discuss her choice of background and the mood it represents (night by a swamp with jagged rocks in the background, suggesting that while the animal might appear friendly, it is still fierce and dangerous).

Assessment as/of learning:

Once students have completed their representation, conduct a gallery walk so that they can compare the way that they and their peers visually represented the poem.