Deep and Wide

poem by Kate Rietema , illustrated by Astred Hicks

Learning Intention:


I am learning about rhythm, rhyme structure and visual literacy in texts so that I can create my own poem.


Success Criteria:

  • I can identify examples of rhyme in a poem
  • I can clap to the rhythm of a poem
  • I can discuss the purpose of rhythm and rhyme in a poem
  • I can understand visual elements in an illustration and how they create a mood.



Essential knowledge:

More information about visual literacy including explanations of a variety of visual techniques can be found in the NSW Department of Education Visual Literacy PowerPoint resource. Please note that this is recommended as a teacher resource, not for stage 2 students.

The State Library of NSW offers a free virtual excursion for Stage 2 students called Reading pictures - visual literacy skills.



Prior to reading the poem, ask students to complete a timed writing activity in which they have 3 minutes to write down a list of words and phrases they associate with the ocean. Set a timer. Students are not to look at each other’s lists until the time is up.


Now read the poem as a class. Ask students to circle any words in the poem that they listed during the timed writing activity.

Discuss the following as a class:

  • Which words in the poem were the most commonly listed words in the timed writing activity?
  • Which ocean related words were not listed in the timed writing activity but appear in the poem?
  • Looking at the illustration, can you see any pictures showing words from the timed writing activity that were not in the poem? (For example, a student might have written ‘seaweed’ on their list. It is not written in the poem, but it appears in the illustration.)


Understanding text:

If you have a digital subscription, revise rhyme and rhythm using the digital interactive.


Look closely at the poem – preferably using a Smartboard or similar technology. Ask students to identify the rhyming words. Circle them on the poem. (Wide, tide, ride, hide, side). Discuss the following as a group:

  • Why has the poet decided to make every line rhyme? (Suggested answer: The consistent rhyme connects the entire poem and gives it structure, it encourages a beat or rhythm when reading aloud)


Choose 6 volunteers from the class to stand in a line at the front of the room. Assign each student one line of the poem to read aloud giving them an alternative last word for each line. See the suggestions below:

Line 1 – swap ‘wide’ for ‘vast’

Line 2 – swap ‘tide’ for ‘waves’

Line 3 – swap ‘ride’ for ‘surf’

Line 4 - swap 'hide’ for nest’

Line 5 – swap ‘wide’ for ‘huge’

Line 6 – leave ‘side’ the same


Have students read the new version of the poem with the swapped words. Then have them read the original lines from the poem.


As a class discuss what happened when the rhyming words were swapped out. You may like to ask the following questions:

  • Did you like the new poem without the rhyming words? Why or why not?
  • Which of the two versions of the poem sound better? Why?
  • What changed for readers when the words didn’t rhyme?

Look closely again at the poem and ask students to underline one word that appears in every line except for one (the answer is ‘and’). This poem describes the ocean by giving a list of paired things. The first pair is children and surfers, the second is dolphins and oysters and the final pair is sand and water. These sets of pairs also encourage a strong rhythm.


Read the poem aloud one more time (you can ask the same volunteers to read their lines in order once more). Ask the class to clap to the rhythm. Mark on the board the syllables that are emphasized by the rhythmic claps.


Look closely at the illustration. List the colours chosen. Ask students why they think these colours were chosen for the illustration. (Lots of bright colours are used to emphasise the beauty and joy associated with the ocean. Yellow is chosen for the sand. It also has sunny warm and happy connotations. Blue is chosen for the ocean, but a very bright blue was used to give a friendly and cheerful mood. Other bright colours are used in the child’s swimwear and the seaweed.)


Look at the whole page – compare the amount of space taken up by the sand compared with the water. (Two thirds of the page are water, one third sand). Ask students why they think this is the way the illustrator decided to illustrate the poem. (The poem is more about the ocean than it is about sand. This emphasises the importance of the ocean because it is in the foreground and takes up two thirds of the page – following the rule of thirds).


Ask students the following question:

  • What would be different about the experience of the poem if you had read it on a plain white sheet of paper?


Creating text:


Divide the class into small groups (4-6 students). Assign each group a word (see list of suggestions). The group is to write a short rhyming poem using this word as a stimulus. They should follow these steps:

  • Write a brainstorm of words that rhyme with the given word. If a rhyming dictionary is available, they may like to use that.
  • Once students have a list of rhyming words, each group member chooses a different word from the previous step. They write one line of poetry which ends with the rhyming word.
  • Give each student a long narrow slip of paper to write their line on. The groups arrange the slips of paper and move them around until they have a group poem.

Suggested words to distribute to groups: tree, plane, car, bird, cat, hair, sun, goat, cap, sand.


Assessment for learning:


On an exit ticket, ask students to self-reflect on the success criteria, rating how comfortable they felt with each item 1-5.

  • I can identify examples of rhyme in a poem
  • I can clap to the rhythm of a poem
  • I can discuss the purpose of rhythm and rhyme in a poem
  • I can understand visual elements in an illustration and how they create a mood.