poem by Beverly McLoughland , illustrated by Lesley McGee

Learning intention

I am learning to identify the way that vocabulary is used in poetry to create imagery and atmosphere, so that I can use more effective language in my writing.


Success criteria

  • I can guess the topic of a poem based on the descriptive language used
  • I can recognise the effect of language in creating imagery and atmosphere
  • I can compose my own poem by using descriptive keywords and phrases that are related to my topic


Essential knowledge

Information about recognising and creating imagery can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Connotation, Imagery and Symbol.


Read poem aloud to the class without showing them the page or telling them the title. Reread the poem one line or section at a time and ask students to guess what it is about by using the descriptive words and phrases it contains. Pause to discuss each as you read through them. For example:

  • Here and there (There could be many of them or they could be moving around a lot)
  • In the warm night air (Something that occurs in the summer months)
  • A glimmer, a flicker, a flash, a spark, clicking on and off again and again (something that shines bright in sudden bursts)
  • Tiny, winged lamps (something that has wings and lights up)
  • In the summer dark (something that appears at night)

Ask students what they think the poem might be about and allow them to discuss with a partner if needed. Show the text page to the students allowing them to take the time to study the illustration and observe how it relates to the words of the poem.

Inform students they will be choosing an animal (insect or otherwise) to write their own poem about. Explain to students that they do not follow the exact structure of the text, but they can use it as a guide. Ask them to identify the rhyming words in the text (there/air in the first two lines, spark/dark at the end of each stanza) and draw their attention to the fact that there is not a consistent rhythm or syllabic structure. Explain that this poem is a free verse and therefore the focus is on the topic (fireflies) and the descriptive language rather than a particular rhyme scheme or structure.

Create a poem as a class on the board to help students get started, or model using the following:

They frolic and play

As they swim in the bay

A dive, a flip, a splash, a leap

Ducking and weaving

Cruising the waves

Breaking the surface

From the ocean deep

Have students begin their poem planning by deciding on their animals and writing keywords and characteristics about it in their books. Have them think about their animal’s habitat and behaviours and use any relevant information to construct their poem.

Once poems have been completed, students may like to publish them with a drawing and share their work with the class.