Emma Gray

poem by Bill Condon , illustrated by Tohby Riddle

Learning Intention:

I am learning to recognise literacy devices in poetry so that I can apply them in my writing.

Success Criteria:

  • I can recognise examples of wordplay
  • I can create examples of literary devices (neologisms)
  • I can create a poem using literary devices


Read the poem as a class and discuss with the students what they think it is about. Talk about the language used in the poem. What makes it funny?

Discuss with the students the fact that wordplay in poetry is a play on words that adds humour to writing and can include many different literary devices.

The devices we will focus on in this poem are.

  • Neologisms are newly coined words or expressions that are not part of the official language system. For example, app, sick, google, floss, chillax.
  • Rhyme is the repetition of a word or phrase. For example, Fred and bed
  • Alliteration a repetition of letters and sound at the beginning of the words. For example, mother, Maude
  • Onomatopoeia are words that sound like what they describe. For example, bang, thunderous roar
  • Idioms are popular phrases with a figurative meaning. For example, in your wildest dreams, wake the dead
  • Puns have multiple meanings with similar sounds of words and have a humorous affect.
  • Rhetorical device is a device that is used for generating emotion and used extensively in persuasive writing. Within Rhetorical devices sits Hyperbole which is a word-or sentence – in which exaggerates a particular point for dramatic effect. For example, its power can rip great oak trees up.


Wordplay detective

Ask students to look through the poem and find the following examples under the headings- wordplay, example and find another example from research or another text.

*Using previous School Magazine issues, ask children to locate further examples of each of these literary devices to extend their bank of examples.

Ask students to review the poem and look for three neologisms that describe the enormous size of a sneeze from Emma Gray. Ask students what they think these made-up words mean.

  • ACHOO-tremendous
  • ACHOO-extreme
  • ACHOO-you-wouldn’t-believe

In small groups children can now create their own neologisms. Ask them:

  • What word can you create?
  • What meaning will it have?

The word could be made of acronyms e.g., BFF, it could be a combination of two describing words, e.g. Chillax or it could be a shortened version of a word. Ask students to write their ideas in their workbook. Students can try their new words out with a friend.


Explain to students  puns are jokes that are funny because a word either has different possible meanings or are words which sound alike but have different meanings. An example is, Bee the best you can bee! Seas the day. Why are frogs always so happy? They eat whatever bugs them.

Ask students to review previous issues of The School Magazine. Can they find puns in these jokes? Write down your favourite in your workbook. Students can have a go at making their own jokes using puns.


Creating their own poem

To conclude, have students write their own poem, using focus literary devices for wordplay (neologisms, rhyme, alliteration, onomatopoeia, idioms, puns, hyperbole).



  • Include your new words in your poem


  • A suggested framework could include

Line 1. 5 words (2nd word and 5th word rhymes)

Line 2. 5 words

Line 3. 6 words (3rd word and 6th word rhymes)

Line 4. 5 words


  • Use a repetition of the sound or letter in two words for example, simple simon

Include alliteration in your poem. You could start a line, include it as a name in your poem or describe something for example, crazy cat


  • Include these sound words in your poem such as meow, bang, crash


  • You may want to research popular idioms and include one in your poem for example, its raining cats and dogs


  • Exaggeration for dramatic effect for example, its bucketing down