Feeding the Eels

poem by Melanie Koster , illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Learning intention:

I am learning to use adverbial groups to compose clear and cohesive texts.

Success criteria:

  • I can identify adverbial groups in a text
  • I can compose adverbial groups
  • I can include adverbial groups in a poem

Display a copy of the poem without allowing students to view the accompanying illustration or to read the title at this stage. Alternatively, read the poem aloud without revealing either the title or showing students the illustration.

Place students in small groups and instruct them to discuss what the subject matter of the poem might be. Instruct students to identify vocabulary from Feeding the Eels they used when making their predictions. Share students responses.

Sample responses might include:

  • A lizard, due to phrases such as ‘twisting and turning about the rocks’ and ‘afterwards, melting into murky shadows like thieves’
  • A jellyfish, due to phrases such as ‘an ebony tangle dances like Medusa’s locks’ (ensure students are aware that Medusa is a figure from ancient Greek mythology, whose hair was a tangle of snakes)


Highlight that there is no main noun in the poem, which makes the subject matter unclear. Discuss the grammatical name for type of phrases included in the poem (mostly adverbial phrases with some adjectival).

Focus students’ attention solely on the adverbial phrases/groups. Identify examples of these, such as:

  • twisting and turning about the rocks
  • fang-like feelers search out food
  • an ebony tangle dances like Medusa’s locks
  • afterwards, melting into murky shadows like thieves


Emphasise that is unusual to see adverbial phrases without a main noun/subject.

View the video Baby Foxes Playing on YouTube.


Discuss what the foxes are doing and compose adverbial phrases that could be used to describe them. For example:

crouching and pouncing on imaginary opponents

watching and waiting like sentinel soldiers

flicking a foot for a leisurely scratch


Collaboratively compose these into a brief poem featuring adverbial phrases but no main subject. View Feeding the Eels for inspiration on structure. Note the lack of punctuation in Feeding the Eels. A sample response for a poem has been provided below:


Bright black eyes, gazing with interest,

Watching, waiting, like sentinel soldiers,

Flicking a foot for a leisurely scratch


and frolicking with their sibling

sniffing the air for scraps

a red tail floats

as bushy as a toilet brush


flopping like jelly

exhausted from fun


Place students in pairs. Instruct them to select a video from the National Geographic Kids Video section to view.

Tell students to compose their own adverbial groups/phrases based on the animals featured in their chosen video. Once students have composed adverbial groups/phrases, instruct them to use these in their own poem. Remind students to avoid including the name of the animal in the poem.

Allow time for students to complete their poems before matching them with another pair. Instruct students to not allow the other pair to know the subject of their poem just yet.

Instruct students to work with their partner to strive to use the adverbial groups/phrases in the poem to identify the animal their peers have written about. Remind them to identify the vocabulary that led them to conclude which animal the poem is based upon. Share responses, reflecting on any predictions that were correct and those that were incorrect.