Hat Chatter

poem by Jesse Anna Bornemann , illustrated by Lesley McGee

Learning Intention:

I am learning to identify and understand how word choices relating to dialogue can convey emotion so that I can manipulate my word choices to create emotion in my own writing.


Success Criteria:

  • I can identify alternate words for ‘said’
  • I can make connections between the alternate words for ‘said’ and the emotion associated
  • I can create writing in which the words relating to how a character speaks conveys a particular emotion


Essential knowledge:

Information on word associations or connotations can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Connotation, imagery and symbol. View from beginning to 1:51.




Begin by writing the word ‘said’ on the board. Ask students to complete a think, pair, share activity in which they write down other words that can be used to replace ‘said’ (examples include: growled, shouted, whispered, mentioned, answered, hollered). As part of the ‘pair’ part of the activity, ask student to consider what kind of emotion might be related to the words they have on their lists. Give students the example of ‘growled’ and connect it with the feeling of grumpiness or anger.

When the sharing begins, ask the first pair willing to share an idea for their ‘said’ word and the emotion that they associate with that word. Now focus on the emotion and ask the class if other students have different ‘said’ synonyms which convey the same or similar emotion. Continue doing this until the board is full of synonyms for ‘said’ grouped by emotion.


Understanding text:

Read the poem, ‘Hat Chatter.’ Ask students to circle or highlight the synonyms for ‘said’ in the poem. For each annotate the emotion it conveys.

Ask students to answer the following questions.

  • Which character is most excited about the hat? Why do you think this is the case?
  • Which character is the calmest about the hat? Why do you think this character seems to be calm?
  • Can you describe the mood or feeling of this poem? How is the mood created?
  • How does the mood or feeling of the people in the poem make you feel when you read the poem?

Discuss the following: How would this poem be different if there was no dialogue?

Creating text:

Ask students to draw or find a photograph or image of a very different hat. The then connect the hat image with one of the emotions from the board full of synonyms for said.


Students use that that image as stimulus for their own short poem in which a range of people comment on the hat through dialogue. Students will try and make their poem convey the chosen emotion. Students should use a variety of words to describe how each person speaks. Avoid using the word ‘said’ or ‘says.’

Encourage students to use the structure of the poem ‘Hat Chatter’ by beginning with the question ‘Is that a hat?’ my ___________________. Every second line should finish with a word describing how the dialogue is delivered, follow the pattern in ‘Hat Chatter.’


Examples of hats from the State Library of NSW website:

Millicent Preston-Stanley, Mrs Crawford Vaughan, 1950

Hats made from vegetables & fruit

Bicorn hat belonging to Matthew Flinders


Assessment for/as learning:


Students share their poem with a partner and complete a peer-review checklist:

My partner’s poem:

  • Uses a range of synonyms for ‘said’
  • Conveys a particular emotion through the choice of words relating to dialogue
  • Describes a hat using dialogue
  • Follows the pattern used in hat chatter (every second line ends with a word describing how the dialogue is delivered)