Aunt Ali’s Alligator

poem by Jonathan Sellars , illustrated by David Legge

Learning Intention:

I am learning to analyse the effects of salience on images so that I can use it effectively in my own illustrations.

Success Criteria:

  • I can identify the salience of an image.
  • I can create a series of illustrations for a text with a focus on salience.
  • I can create a digital storybook that combines a text with my accompanying illustrations.

Essential knowledge:

Ensure students are familiar with the meaning of salience. A definition and explanation can be found on the Australian Curriculum Glossary

Understanding text:

Prior to reading the text, ask students to analyse the salience of the image and by identifying what they first notice when they look at the page of the poem. Answers are most likely to be the alligator’s face, particularly its eyes, or the lady’s face. Discuss the way the illustrator has achieved this by having the faces in the centre of the picture, having the alligator’s face appear slightly more in the foreground with its eyes even more so, and having the lady’s eyes looking directly at the audience.

Read the poem together, or if you have a digital subscription, you may wish to listen to the audio version. Ask students which auntie in the poem the artist has illustrated. They should identify that it is Auntie Rita.

Break students into pairs and inform them they are going to be working together to brainstorm the way they would illustrate the rest of the poem. Have a class discussion to come up with some ideas for the first two lines. For example:

  • ‘Auntie Ali had an alligator’ – a woman in a wide brimmed hat and an alligator lying on sun lounges by the pool
  • ‘Until the alligator ate her’ – The alligator still lying there but now with an empty sun lounge next to it and the lady’s hat hanging out of its mouth.

Inform students they should come up with at least ten additional pictures for the poem with their partner, with a focus on salience, that illustrates each part of the text in order. To do this, they should consider what they want the audience to focus on for each picture, and experiment with ways to draw the reader’s eye to this. Encourage them to be creative with their illustrations by putting the alligator and the aunties in different settings and situations as the alligator goes on its eating spree.

Allow time for students to practice and experiment with their illustrating during their brainstorm session.

Creating text:

Inform students they will be using the illustrations to turn the poem into a digital storybook. Once they have completed their brainstorm, they should take the time to draw and colour their final illustrations. They should then take a photo of each illustration and upload it onto a device using a software program such as Canva, PowerPoint or Google Slides. Once they have all their illustrations uploaded and arranged into the order of the poem, they should record a voiceover reading the poem to accompany the illustrations so that it is structured like a digital storybook.

If possible, have students spend time with a younger class to play their digital storybooks to an audience.

Assessment for/as learning:

Provide the students with the following 5 questions, which they are to reflect and provide a written response to:

  1. What are you learning?
  2. How are you doing?
  3. How do you know?
  4. How can you improve?
  5. Where could you go to for help?

Collect student’s responses and review who requires additional support or extension on this topic.