poem by Lisa Varchol Perron , illustrated by Christopher Nielsen

Learning Intention:

I am learning to analyse illustrations so that I can explain how it contributes to meaning of written text.


Success Criteria:

  • I can use comprehension skills to analyse a poem.
  • I can use visual literacy skills to analyse an illustration.
  • I can explain how an illustration contributes to the meaning of a poem.


Essential knowledge:

More information about plot structure can be found at The School Magazine’s webpage on Narrative.

More information about themes can be found at The School Magazine’s webpage on Themes.

More information about visual literacy metalanguage can be found on the Victorian Education’s webpage Visual Literacy and the Visual Literacy’s webpage Visual Techniques.

For a free virtual excursion from the NSW State Library, visiting their page ‘Reading’ pictures – visual literacy skills.


Oral language and communication:

Prior to reading or viewing the text, discuss the following questions as a class and ask children to share their responses:

  1. How does a poem differ from a narrative?
  2. Do you find it difficult to make meaning of poetry sometimes?
  3. How does an accompanying illustration help make meaning?


Understanding text:

Divide the class in half – Group A and Group B. Send Group A outside with a copy of only the text of the Beyond (not the illustration) for them to read and discuss what they think the meaning is. Encourage them to think about what the poet is trying to say, what themes they can find (such as the endlessness of the universe) and their personal responses. Ask them to discuss with each other what they think the illustration might look like.


Stay inside with Group B and display only the illustration without any of the text. Give students time to study the illustration then ask them to discuss what they think the poem might be about (answers will vary). Allow them to answer without any guidance at this point. When they’ve given enough answers, start to draw their attention to certain visual literacy points. Examples may be:

- the salience of the eye, suggesting the poem is visual-based

- the abundance of blue, symbolic of contemplation and thoughtfulness

- the repetition of circles, suggesting endlessness

- the diagonal positioning of the eye, representing the fact that the poem is not straightforward

- the universe around the eye, suggesting the poem discusses things outside what humans can see

After discussing these points, give Group B more time to discuss what they think the poem might be about.


Creating text:

Ensure all students no longer have access to the poem or the illustration. Bring students from Group A back into the classroom and have them pair up with a student from Group B. Without the poem or the illustration, pairs compare notes and see if they can make meaning from their joint understandings. Once they’ve finished the discussion, display the illustration and the text together as it appears in The School Magazine. Ask students if they understand the poem and illustration more now they’ve seen them together.


Assessment for/as learning:

Ask the following questions for the class to write in their workbooks:

- What was the poem about?

- Did the illustration contribute to its meaning?

- How?

- If you were asked to illustrate this poem, how would you do it?





beyond image