It's in the Bag

story by David Hill , illustrated by Andrew Joyner

Learning Intention:


I am learning to connect personal experiences and character experiences in literary texts so that I can better understand character’s actions and choices.


Success Criteria:


  • I can identify events in a story.
  • I can consider how the character reacts.
  • I can connect my personal experiences with those of characters in a story.


Essential knowledge:


View the video Theme from The English Textual Concepts. Ensure students note the following:

  • The plot, characters, setting and language all help reveal the theme
  • The theme is the message of the text
  • The theme invites us to think about our own lives and what we value


Oral language and communication:


Display the following list of actions and ways that people might react:

  • Someone takes something that belongs to a student, and they respond with anger
  • A child makes a choice that they regret, and they wish they could take it back
  • A student finds out their friend has been disloyal, and they refuse to speak with them
  • A child discovers a surprise gift for them hidden away and they take a peek even though they know they shouldn’t
  • Siblings fight and they both react in anger

Discuss which of these examples' students relate to and encourage them to share their personal experiences. Display the following list of elements to consider and instruct students to share, if they feel comfortable, their responses:

  • Specific details about the events of the situation
  • How the situation made you feel
  • How you reacted

Place students in small groups and instruct them to discuss further examples of situations that they might connect or relate to. Remind them to use the list of elements to consider when sharing their experiences.


Understanding text:


Read to the end of page 31 of It’s in the Bag, or listen to the audio file, and discuss the following:

  • Why do you think Jordan blame the mess in his bag on a beast that must live inside it? (He is embarrassed about the mess, he is making a joke)
  • Have you ever blamed something on someone else? If so, why? (Sample responses might include, to avoid getting into trouble or due to embarrassment)
  • Who do you think leaves Jordan the note? (Finn)

Continue reading to the end of the story or listen to the audio file if you have a digital subscription. Discuss the following:

  • Why does Jordan pretend to be amazed and say it must be a bag-beast after all, when Finn claims it wasn’t him who left the note (page 32)? (He thinks he is playing along with Finn)
  • How do you think Jordan feels when he discovers the bag-beast has moved to his soccer bag? (Scared, surprised, shocked that the bag-beast might actually be real)


Discuss possible themes for the story, for example:

  • Be careful what you joke about
  • Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction
  • Everything isn’t always what it seems


Creating text:


Discuss the experiences of Jordan in the story and jot these on the board. For example:

  • He discovers his bag is in a mess and he blames it on a bag beast
  • He blames Finn for writing the notes
  • He plays along when he thinks Finn is playing a trick on him
  • He feels shocked when he discovers something he thought was a joke might actually true

Discuss which of these students' events students relate to. Refer students to the list of elements to consider from earlier:

  • Specific details about the events of the situation
  • How the situation made you feel
  • How you reacted

Inform students that they will be writing a fictitious note that could be placed in Jordan’s bag, just as the bag-beast does, only this time they’ll be explaining which of the events from Jordan’s life they most relate to and why. Tell students that they can choose to include advice for Jordan in their note if they wish. Gradually release responsibility by composing an example collaboratively first, based on ideas shared during discussions. Discuss the usual format for letter writing, ensuring students identify that usually authors will use the recipient’s name to begin a letter and that they will sign off with their own name. Inform students that they should use the first person, and present tense unless recounting something. Tell students that they should follow this format. A sample response is:

Hi Jordan,

I totally understand your desire to pretend the mess in your bag is due to a bag-beast. I too blame my mess on someone else, my little brother. Whenever my mum tells me that my room is messy, I feel so frustrated. So, I’ve begun pretending it’s my brother’s mess and not mine. I actually feel quite guilty sometimes as mum will tell my brother to tidy up instead of me. I’m beginning to realise I probably should take responsibility and tidy my room myself. Perhaps you should do the same and clean up your bag.

Good luck,


Instruct students to compose their notes. Once complete, tell students to share their notes with a peer.


Assessment for/as learning:


Instruct students to respond to the following two exit ticket questions in their workbooks:

How does relating to a character make you feel about them? (It helps me to connect with the character and the story)

How might you use this in your own writing? (I will aim to create relatable characters when crafting stories)