story by T Lynn Slater , illustrated by Cheryl Orsini

Learning intention:  

I am learning to identify aspects of story genres so that I can use their features in my own creative writing. 

Success criteria: 

  • I can explain what a genre is 
  • I can identify genre features in a story  
  • I can include genre features in my own writing 


Essential knowledge: 

More information about identifying the genres of a story can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Genre. 


After reading the story, view the English Textual Concepts video Genre. Discuss the idea raised in the video about blended genres and ask students to think about which genres they think the text would fit into.  

Inform the students that you are going to play a game of Heads or Tails. Explain that they will need to stand up and you will say the names of different genres. If they think a genre you say relates to the story they should put their hands on their heads, but if it doesn’t relate, they should put their hands on their bottoms (tails). Read the following list of genres to the class and make a note of any that get a large amount of hands on heads: 

  • Comedy 
  • Adventure 
  • Horror 
  • Fantasy 
  • Crime 
  • Romance 
  • Historical 
  • Mystery 

Using the genres that were selected by students, ask them to explain why they think the story fits that genre. Reponses may include: 

Adventure – Maya goes on an adventure to an underwater world. 

Fantasy – The story has magical elements and creatures in it, such as the crystal cave, a merboy and mergirl, and a magical necklace that allows Maya to return whenever she wants by using magic words. 

Mystery – Although the story is not about solving a mystery, the students may feel there is mystery involved, such as where the hoop came from and why it was on the beach, as well as what will happen to Maya when the octopus is dragging her under the water. 


Reread the last two sentences of the story to the class: 

That night, in bed, she touched the clinking shells in the dark. ‘I can’t wait for next time,’ she murmured as she closed her eyes. 

Instruct students that they are to write a short story about Maya going back to visit her underwater friends. Some questions that may help them shape their story include: 

  • What will happen when Maya rubs the necklace and says the magic words? 
  • Will the new friends play ocean-inspired games similar to the ones in the text (e.g. Spot the Anemone, Pass the Parrotfish), or do some other deep sea activities? 
  • Will Maya meet any other marine creatures on her next underwater adventure? 


Remind students that they should keep their stories within the same genres of the text, which means they should include magical elements, fantastical creatures and characters and a sense of adventure. Students may also wish to illustrate their stories and share them with the class.