poem by Yvonne Lowe , illustrated by Yvonne Lowe

Learning intention: 

I am learning to make observations in my planning so that I can develop more realistic characters. 


Success criteria: 

  • I can make observations about animal behaviours and characteristics. 
  • I can create a list of keywords from my observations. 
  • I can create a poem based on the style of another author. 


Essential knowledge: 

More information about using the style of an author’s work to create your own text can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Style 


After reading the poem, ask students to put their hands up if they have a pet. Choose a few of these students to share information about funny or interesting things that their pets do. It may be their bird dancing, their dog rolling around on the grass after a bath, or their cat trying to fit in small places. Ask them how they know that their pets do these things (by watching them). 

Discuss the importance of observation when writing about others, such as people and animals. Explain that this allows us to notice things such as physical features and behaviours, which helps provide us with more authenticity in our writing. 

Talk about the way the author has shown this in their writing and draw attention to the style of writing. Discuss how the poem communicates different characteristics and actions of the magpie without the need for full sentences, by focusing just on keyword and terms. 

Take the students out to the playground so that they can find and observe animals, such as local birds and lizards. Have them choose one to focus their attention on and makes notes in their books on its physical features, movements and behaviours. This may include searching for or eating food, interacting with other animals or the way they walk or fly.  

If doing this activity in the playground is not an option, you may wish to choose a section of the BBC Earth video Amazing Animal Behaviours Caught on Spy Camera for students to make observations and notes. 

Using their observations, students should craft their own poem in the style of the text, focusing on simple keyword descriptions based on their observations. Once completed, they should publish the poem inside an illustration of their chosen animal.