Dragon in the Sky

poem by Kate Williams , illustrated by David Legge

Learning intention

I am learning to identify the way an author incorporates senses to create heightened feelings for the reader, so that I can incorporate more sensory language into my own writing for effectiveness.

 

Success criteria

  • I can use the author’s description of the senses to determine what the poem is about
  • I can recognise the way the author has made the poem more interesting and immersive through their use of language
  • I can use my imagination to write about what my sensory experience would be in interacting with an animal or creature.

 

Without showing the page to the class, or telling them the title, ask students to close their eyes as you read out the poem. Read the text at a reasonably slow pace, briefly pausing after the following lines:

  • That’s all I saw
  • That’s all I smelt
  • That’s all I felt
  • That’s all I heard
  • That’s all I did

After reading the poem in its entirety, ask students to identify what the author is writing about. Reread the poem or key descriptive lines if necessary. Once the topic of a dragon has been established, distribute copies of magazines to the students.

Discuss the importance of considering our senses when we write and how this helps immerse the reader in the setting of the story and the feelings of the characters.

Write the following statements on the board:

  • I saw spikes, claws and flames.
  • I smelt smoke.
  • I felt scared.
  • I heard wings.
  • I ran away.

Read one statement at a time and choose a student to read aloud the related part of the poem for each. (e.g., Teacher: I felt fear – Student: A tingle of fear, that’s all I felt). Emphasise the difference between the way the two are written and the importance of using more interesting and detailed descriptions to engage readers.

Inform students that they are going to create their own table of senses for a made-up encounter. They may wish to choose a mythical creature or a real animal, but they should keep their choice a secret for now. Have students draw a basic table in their book with six even squares. Direct them to use a whole page so they have room to write their descriptions. Their boxes should be labelled as follows:

  • What I saw
  • What I smelt
  • What I felt
  • What I heard
  • What I did
  • What I tasted (although this is not in the poem, students may wish to use it if relevant – e.g., the taste of salt if describing an encounter with an ocean animal)

 

Students should use their imaginations to brainstorm what it may be like to encounter the creature they have chosen. They may wish to note some of their basic ideas first (e.g., centaur – galloping), then further develop their descriptive phrases from there. They should write their phrases in each box to describe what they believe they would see, smell, feel and hear in their encounter. There is no need to make this rhyme or create a poem, the purpose is simply for considering and describing the feelings involved. In the box labelled ‘What I did’, students should describe what they believe their reaction would be if they encountered their chosen creature.

Once students have completed their table of senses, they should swap with a classmate with each trying to guess the other’s creature based on their descriptions.