poem by Suzy Levinson , illustrated by Amy Golbach

Learning Intention:

I am learning to modulate my voice so that I can perform in diverse ways to portray mood.


Success Criteria:

  • I can experiment with tone, facial expressions and voice to convey emotion in a performance
  • I can speak clearly and confidently during a presentation
  • I can cooperates with peers for choral reading


Before reading the play, write this line on the board:


I do not know how I’m supposed to do it.


Have enough copies of the following words on slips of paper to hand one to each student. Ensure students do not show each other their own slip.

  • worried
  • furious
  • sad
  • confused
  • excited
  • scared
  • amused

Explain that students will deliver the line ‘I do not know how I’m supposed to do it’ in a way that conveys the emotion written on their slip without telling anyone what that emotion is. Encourage students to imagine what ‘it’ is that they do not know how to do, and why they would be feeling the emotion on their slip. Have them think about the tone of their voice, their facial expression and their body language when delivering the line. Ask them to practise before they start – have everyone demonstrate a happy face, a scared face, an angry face and a sad face. Encourage them to look at each other when pulling the faces to see how their mouths and eyebrows move for each expression. Ask what other ways our bodies show how we are feeling, such as clenched fists when we are angry or tears when we are sad.


Give students some time to go around the classroom performing their line to each other, with their partners guessing what emotion they are supposed to be feeling.


When finished, bring the class back and ask the following questions:

- who delivered their line well?

- what did they do to make you know immediately how they were feeling?

Ask students what strategies they used to make their emotion believable.

Read the poem Cat-TV aloud in a neutral tone. Ask students what emotions can be conveyed by reading the poem differently. Answers may include:

  • anger
  • fear
  • amusement
  •  joy
  • confusion

Separate the class into groups of four or five and give each group a different emotion to convey. Explain they will perform the poem as a group using this emotion. Remind them to think about body language, facial expression and voice when reading the poem. Allow  several minutes to discuss their ideas and practise reading in a fluent and phrased manner. Students can still be independent and put their own spin on their emotional reading, but they should try to read in time with the others.

Each group performs their reading to the class. Give a chance for the audience to provide feedback (e.g. I like the way (student) clenched her fists and talked through her teeth to show she was angry). If time, allow groups to perform again using a different emotion.