Ice Monsters and Aliens

story by Alys Jackson , illustrated by Jenny Tan

Learning intentions:

I am learning to discuss how language is used to describe the settings in texts and explore how the settings shape the events and influence mood in my writing.

Success criteria:

  • I can identify the descriptive words and phrases used to create a sense of place in a text
  • I can imagine how I would feel in a setting, using my senses
  • I can create an imaginary place of my own and use descriptive words and phrases that would help the audience imagine themselves there


After reading the story, ask students to locate words and phrases in the text that help describe the planet the characters are on for the reader. Answers should include:

  • Triple moons at sunset
  • Moons rising behind the mountains, huge and tinged with pale violet stripes
  • Rocky and slippery
  • Frozen water that smells fresh
  • Ice flowers in a valley
  • Ice fields
  • Ice fountain


Discuss how they come together to give the reader an understanding of the setting and ask students to use their senses to imagine how they would experience their surroundings in that setting. Answers may include:

  • It would smell cool and fresh
  • Things would look very white and pale blue because of all the ice
  • We would feel cold and would have to wear warm clothes
  • We would have to walk carefully in the rocky and slippery areas


Inform students that they will be creating their own setting or world and using descriptive words and phrases that help readers imagine how they would feel if they were there. To do this they may wish to first sketch some ideas of what their world may look like, then use their senses to think about how they would experience the setting. They should then write a list of descriptive words and phrases to help them create their setting.


Take suggestions from students of an imaginary world, then work with students to model an example on the board. For example, if they suggest a desert-like setting, they may come up with words and phrases, such as:


Descriptive words and phrases:

  • Warm winds
  • Rough sand
  • Water is hard to find
  • Sweltering heat

Students should then begin brainstorming in their books by creating sketches and/or writing their ideas. Once they feel they have shaped their idea for an imaginary place, students should draw a picture of their setting on a piece of paper and write their descriptive words and phrases within or around the illustration, ensuring that they have depicted these descriptions in their picture as best as possible.