I Don't want a Pet SNAKE

poem by Kathryn Apel , illustrated by Christopher Nielsen

Learning Intention:


I am learning to analyse the effects of text structures and language features of different types of genres so that I can consider a range of genres when composing texts.


Success Criteria:


  • I can analyse a poem to identify the structure and the language features.
  • I can analyse an information report to identify the structure and the language features.
  • I can reflect on how the structure and the language features of each type of text support the genre.
  • I can consider the most suitable genre for a variety of topics.


Essential knowledge:


View the video Genre from The School Magazine. Ensure students note that:

  • Genre is the term used to group texts, based on their similarities in form and function
  • Knowing the genre of a text helps us to know what to expect of it and the patterns it might follow.


Oral language and communication:


Discuss the following:

Read I Don’t Want a Pet Snake and discuss the genre. Ensure students identify that it is a poem. Discuss key features of the genre and language features, using the poem as a guide. For example:

  • Features rhyming words (Although not all do)
  • They follow a rhythm (Although not all do)
  • Ideas are organised in stanzas.
  • This poem features a conclusion in the final stanza, which begins, ‘In conclusion…’
  • They often feature playful and/or poetic language, such as ‘ssssnoozing’ and ‘sssssmitten’
  • An illustration accompanies this poem.


Display the following question and discuss:

  • How does the use of language help categorise texts into genres? (The use of rhyming words, rhythmic patterns of language and playful/poetic language helps readers to categorise texts as poems.
  • What other types of language may support you with identifying the genre of different types of texts? (Other types of language provide insight into the genre, for example: impartial language for information reports, description/imagery for narratives/poetry)


Understanding text:


Provide students with a T-Chart and instruct students to add the heading ‘poems’ to the left-hand column. Tell them to record the ideas they have discussed here.

Discuss the following:

  • What is the purpose of poetry? (To entertain, to evoke an emotional response)
  • Does the poem include factual information? (Students may be surprised to discover that this poem also includes factual information)
  • What factual information is included in the poem? (For example, they ‘have a dangerous bite’, ‘they sleep in winter, day… and night,’ ‘experts milk some snakes’)

Instruct students to add their responses to their T-Charts.

Draw students' attention to the fact that the author has woven factual information into the poem.

Refer students to Silk-tastic Spider Webs found on pages 18 to 20 of this issue of Blast Off. Identify the genre (information report). Place students with a partner and instruct them to discuss the structure and the language features of this genre, using the Silk-tastic Spider Webs to assist them.

Discuss responses. Sample responses include:

  • Ideas are grouped and organised under subheadings
  • Features photographs
  • Includes factual information
  • Also features some playful language, such as ‘Silk-tastic’ although most language is more formal

Creating text:


Inform students that they will be using the information on their T-Charts to reflect on the impacts of structures and the language features of different genres. Place students in groups of four. Display the following questions and instruct students to note responses to them in their workbooks before discussing their ideas with their group. Remind students to consider what they have learnt about text structures and language features of genres of texts when responding:

  • How do the language features of each genre support the genre’s purpose? (The playful and poetic language assists with entertaining readers and can create an emotional response. The more formal language of information reports makes the information seem believable and credible)
  • How does the structure of each genre support the genre’s purpose? (The structure of poems, with a rhythmic and often rhyming style, assists with entertaining reader. The structure of information reports, organising ideas under subheadings, allows readers to easily locate the information they need)
  • How does presenting factual information in a poem impact readers? (It provides surprise, and it creates intrigue)
  • How does presenting playful language such as ‘Silk-tastic’ in an information report impact readers? (It makes the text engaging and it suits the target audience, Year 4 students)
  • Consider the following topics and decide which genre may best suit them:

A humorous tale about a recent encounter (Poem)

An explanation of the water cycle (Information report)

A reflection on a recent event (Either)

An emotion story about a family member (Poem)

Allow time for students to discuss their responses with their groups.


Assessment for/as learning:


Display the following exit ticket questions and instruct students to respond to them in their workbooks:

  • The language features and the structure of different genres support their purpose because…
  • Examples of this include…

Those with a digital subscription can complete the interactive activity as an exit ticket.

For more on assessment, view Assessment for, as and of Learning.