Long Neck

poem by Sophie Masson , illustrated by Jenny Tan

Learning intention

I am learning to experiment with creating literary texts that feature rich and vivid examples of imagery to describe settings so that I can describe settings in ways that capture the mood I wish to convey.

Success criteria

  • I can identify examples of imagery to describe the setting in a text.
  • I can identify a mood I wish to convey.
  • I can experiment with composing imagery to describe a setting that captures a mood.
  • I can incorporate my imagery into a poem.


Essential knowledge

View the video Connotation, Imagery and Symbol from the English Textual Concepts.

Inform students that when writers craft settings they think carefully about which elements to include to match the mood they wish to inspire. Tell students that writers will select words that have connotations and that create imagery to allow readers to form clear pictures in their minds.

Read Long Neck. Discuss the mood of the poem. Students might note that is feels peaceful and wistful, relaxing and calm.

Discuss examples of imagery used to describe the setting that helps create this mood and note which sense each example engages, for example:

It’s morning by the river, where the water runs bright (sight)

Over rocks slippery with silken moss (sight and touch)

And magpies call cool in the trees (hearing and touch)

Going with the green flow (sight)

Discuss how the examples engage a variety of senses and how the connotations of words such as ‘bright’ and ‘going with the green flow’ create a relaxed and peaceful setting.

Inform students that they will be using imagery and connotations to create a specific mood and that they will be using these in a poem. First, take students on a walk around the playground. Discuss the way students feel in the playground emphasising that this might be different for everyone. Note, student responses may depend on the time of day for example at recess or lunch the mood might feel buzzing and busy whereas during lesson times the playground may feel calm and relaxed.

As you walk, discuss the mood and note any vocabulary students use for them to refer to later. Sample responses might include:

  • calm
  • busy
  • sunny
  • buzzing
  • peaceful
  • peaceful
  • nerve-wracking

Collaboratively compose a poem by completing the following:

  • Decide on a mood from the list discussed, for example, buzzing.
  • Discuss words that have buzzing connotations for example, busy, buzzy bees, frantic, hectic, lively, cheers from the students.
  • Compose examples of imagery that create this mood, reminding students that successful imagery evokes a number of senses, for example:

Students buzz back and forth like bees

Balls sail through the air, like busy magpies swooping to catch a worm

the light dances in the dappled shade of a tree

children’s laughter catches on the breeze.

  • Discuss creatures that might visit the school playground for example, rabbits, magpies, worms, ibis, mice. Collaboratively select a creature to include in the poem. Inform students that they will be describing the creature moving through the setting and that the type of animal should match the mood they are wishing to create. Provide examples, such as a slow worm might suit a relaxed setting whereas a busy magpie might suit a buzzing setting.
  • Compose a poem with the class about the chosen creature moving through the setting and incorporating the examples of imagery composed earlier. Students may choose to construct a rhyming or a non-rhyming poem. For example:

The air is alive with balls travelling in deep arcs,

The magpie watches them soar and bounce,

Students run this way and that like bees,

Laughter dances on the hot air,

The magpie swoops a juicy worm in its sights.

Tell students that they will now be composing their own poems. Place students in pairs or small groups. Instruct them to select a mood for their playground setting from the ideas discussed earlier. Tell students that they should experiment with ideas of imagery before including these examples in their own poem. Remind students to refer back to the list of vocabulary completed on the walk around the playground if they need support with ideas. Once complete, pair groups together and instruct them to read their poems to each other. Tell students to pay close attention to examples of imagery in the work of their peers.