Colour Confusion

poem by Diana Murray , illustrated by Sarah Davis

Learning intention

I am learning to use a range of software to construct a written text and to place visual and print elements so that I can develop my skills with creating multimedia texts.

Success criteria

  • I can identify connotations associated with colours.
  • 2can compose my own stanza to add to the poem.
  • I can create a slide, using fonts and images to express ideas.

Essential knowledge

View the video Connotation, Imagery and Symbol from the English Textual Concepts. Ensure students note that connotation is the mood or feeling associated with a particular word.

Display a range of colours on the board or swatches of coloured paper. Discuss the connotations evoked by each colour. Remind students that these might be different for some people as connotations are personal. Tell students that despite this, there are often common associations with colours. Tell students that this may be due to the society and culture in which we live. Emphasise that symbols such as colours, are used as a short cut to an idea. Sample responses include:

  • Yellow: happy, calm, relaxed, joyful
  • Red: anger, frustration, heat
  • Green: nature, calm, relaxed

Note: record vocabulary students share next to the colours or on the board.

Read the poem, Colour Confusion. Discuss the first colour that features in the poem (red) and the common connotation associated with it that is expressed in Colour Confusion (that seeing red means being angry). Reread the remaining lines of the stanza:

and yet I would be glad

to see red roses blooming.

It wouldn’t make me mad.

Discuss the narrator’s interpretation of the colour red (that they would be glad to receive a bunch of red roses). Emphasise that the narrator is expressing that for them the colour has different connotations than the one usually associated with the colour.

Place students with a partner. Instruct them to repeat this process, identifying the usual connotation for each colour expressed in the poem before noting how the narrator’s own interpretation differs. Students can record their responses in a table similar to the one below. Sample responses are provided.

Stanza Usual symbol colour represents Own perception
2 Tickled pink means happy
3 Green with envy
4 Blue skies

Tell students that you will be using a presentation program such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides to create a multimedia representation of the ideas expressed in Colour Confusion. Inform students that you will be creating one collaboratively before students complete a presentation independently. For each slide select a coloured background to match each of the colours featured in the poem (red, pink, green and blue). Select the lines from the poem that express the common connotation associated with the first colour (red). That is,

‘Seeing red’ means angry.

For this activity tell students that they can copy and paste the line from a digital copy of the poem or type it onto the slide. Inform them when it comes to creating their own presentation that they will be composing their own lines for a stanza that they will be inserting on the slide.

View a selection of fonts from the drop-down menu in the program and discuss which font conveys anger, for example a calligraphy style font. Select the font decided on and change the first line of text to this font. Underneath this copy the remaining lines from the stanza,

and yet I would be glad

to see red roses blooming.

It wouldn’t make me mad.

Select a font the express feeling glad, for example something wide and loopy, or bold. Change the lines to the selected font.

Discuss images that might express these ideas, for example an image of frowning eyebrows for anger or bright red roses for the feeling of being glad. Identify images using online searches and add these to the slide.

Provide students with technology and work on the second slide collaboratively while students experiment with the functions as you discuss ideas, by completing the following:

  • Select a pink background
  • Copy the line,

And ‘tickled pink’ means pleased, but why should that be right?

  • Select a font to express the feeling ‘pleased’ and change the line to this font
  • Insert the remining lines,

but why should that be right?

Why not ‘tickled purple’?

Or ‘tickled pearly white’?

  • Discuss the feeling expressed in these lines (questioning or confusion)
  • Select a font that expresses this and change the lines to this font
  • Discuss images to express these moods (a smiley face for pleased, a question mark for questioning) and insert these onto the slide

Inform students that you will be composing a stanza collaboratively to then express in a visual presentation. Select one of the colours discussed earlier but one that didn’t feature in the poem Colour Confusion (such as yellow). Discuss the common symbol of the colour, for example happiness or joy. Next, discuss how students might interpret the colour differently, for example, it might remind them of sneezing due to summertime hay fever.

Collaboratively compose a stanza to express these ideas. Refer back to Colour Confusion to identify the rhyming structure (the second- and fourth-lines rhyme). Try to follow this structure. For example:

Some say yellow makes them happy,

And fills them with joy,

But yellow makes me sneeze,

Hayfever oh boy!

Discuss how this might be expressed in a slide. If students need further practice with using technology collaboratively create a slide to express these ideas, by selecting fonts and images for each feeling.

Inform students that they will be creating their own stanzas to add to the slide show. Students can work independently or with a partner for this task. Instruct them to complete the following:

  • Select a colour
  • Identify the usual connotation associated with it
  • Identify a more unusual connotation
  • Compose a stanza to express the ideas, where the second- and fourth-lines rhyme
  • Select the same colour background for the slide
  • Identify fonts to match the mood expressed in the lines and insert the text using these fonts
  • Identify images to express these ideas and add these to the slide.