Dark Night

poem by Neal Levin ,  illustrated by Amy Golbach

Learning intention:  

I am learning to experiment with language features and their effects in creating texts so that I can make the texts I compose engaging. 

Success criteria:  

  • I can identify language that expresses the contrast in the bat’s behavior at differing times of day.  
  • I can discuss how the contrast in the setting mirrors the contrast in the bat’s behaviour.  
  • I can identify vocabulary to describe a diurnal animal at different times of day.  
  • I can compose a poem, including the vocabulary identified to describe the selected animal.  

Discuss the contrasting settings featured in the poem, day, and night, and how the bat is described as behaving in each environment. Identify language used in the poem to communicate the bat’s behaviour in both the day and the night. For example:  

  • Day: ‘fear,’ ‘when daylight dazzles’ 
  • Night: ‘bravely,’ ‘open skies,’ ‘darkness swoops in’  

Discuss the difference between the type of language used to describe the bat at each of the different times of day and what this communicates. Draw students' attention to vocabulary such as ‘fear’ to describe the day which contrasts with vocabulary such as ‘bravely’ to describe the night. Emphasise that this is because bats do not enjoy the day while they love the nighttime. Emphasise that this is often the reverse of how most people think about the night, as often it is seen as a time that is spooky or threatening. Inform students that juxtaposition has been used here by contrasting the way the bat feels about nighttime with how most humans feel about night. 

Discuss animals that are diurnal (not nocturnal). For example: dogs, songbirds, elephants, meerkats, honeybees, deer, hawks, and squirrels. Select one of these animals, for example elephants.  

View the video, Happy World Elephant Day. Provide students with whiteboards and instruct them to draw a line to separate their whiteboard into two sections. Tell students to list any words they think of to describe the elephants and their behaviour during the day. Use think-pair-share for students to think about their ideas, to discuss them with a partner and finally to share them with the main group. Sample responses include:  

  • frolicking 
  • playing 
  • dipping 
  • diving 

Once students have identified vocabulary for elephants during the day, view the video, Elephants in Thailand Sleeping at Night (Begin the video from 50 seconds in). Instruct students to record vocabulary to describe elephants at night using the other section of their whiteboards. Use think-pair-share for students to formulate ideas before discussing them with the class. Sample responses include:  

  • lolling on the floor 
  • eyes squinting 
  • tongue dropped out 
  • open-mouthed 

Collaboratively compose a poem, featuring some of the vocabulary discussed. Refer to Dark Night, to identify the rhyming structure. Ensure students note the poem features mostly rhyming couplets for lines one and two, and lines four and five, while lines three and six rhyme with each other. Note the order the descriptions appear in in Dark Night, with the environment the bat is least comfortable in appearing first and the environment they come alive in coming next. Tell students to strive to include the same rhyming pattern as structure as in Dark Night in the collaborative poem. A sample response is:  

An elephant lolls, 

As nighttime tolls,  

Open-mouthed and slack jawed,  

When daylight comes,  

Frolicking for fun,  

In the water like a lord.  

Place students in pairs or small groups. Instruct them to use the vocabulary they identified to describe the elephants during the day and at night in their own poem. Students can use rhyming dictionaries such as RhymeZone useful for identifying rhyming words.