Melon Lemon

poem by Suzy Levinson , illustrated by Christopher Nielsen

Learning Intention:

I am learning how to discuss a poet’s use of humorous devices (anagrams) so that I can experiment with them in my own writing.

Success Criteria:

  • I can define anagrams and recognise them in the text.
  • I can explain why a poet has chosen to include anagrams.
  • I can experiment with using anagrams in my own writing.

Essential Knowledge:

More information about common figurative devices used in poetry can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Connotation, Imagery and Symbol.

Read the text, or if you have a digital subscription, listen to the audio recording. Ensure that students have access to the text of the poem.

After reading the poem, ask students a general, or open question. Some suggested questions include:

  • What is the meaning of this poem?
  • Why has the author written about lemons and melons?
  • What do you notice about some of the words in this poem?
  • There is a riddle in this poem. What is it?

Students should recognise that the words melon and lemon contain the same letters, but in a different order. For this reason, the words waterlemon and melonade can be created.

Explain to students that these words are examples of anagrams. Ask students to come up with their own definition of the meaning of an anagram. Their answers should be something along the lines of, ‘new words, phrases or names made up from the letters of another word.’ Ensure that students understand that anagrams must use all the letters of the original word and can only use each letter the same number of times that it features in the original word. You may also want to distinguish anagrams from jumbled words, as an anagram is two words/phrases made from the same letters in a different order (compared to jumbled words, which are usually nonsense).

Provide students with a list of humorous anagrams. For example:

A Gentleman = Elegant man

A telescope = To see place


Butterfly= Flutter-by

Astronomers = No more stars

Debit card= bad credit

Conversation = voices rant on

Decimal place = I’m a dot in place

The eyes= they see

Microsoft = comfort is

Ask students why anagrams are appealing. Students may provide some of the following responses:

  • It can be surprising and amazing to see which new words can be created from original words.
  • It can be fun to work out the relationship between words by rearranging letters.
  • Sometimes there is a very close relationship between the anagrams (for example, melon and lemon are both fruits).

Students should then provide a reason why the poet has used anagrams in the poem ‘Melon Lemon’. Answers could include: to highlight how closely related the two objects are, to have fun making up nonsense anagrams (melonade; waterlemon), to encourage the reader to have fun with spelling.

Finally, challenge students to create their own anagrams. You can provide students with hints to make them up, such as jumbling the letters into different patterns to see if a word jumps out, combining letters into common pairings, looking for common consonant blends or syllable formations. If students are struggling to create their own anagrams, you may provide a list of funny anagrams to assist them, such as the examples above.

Students compose a short poem based on their favourite anagram pair. An example is below:

‘Silent! Listen! Listen! silent!’

The teacher did explain.

‘Silent! I can’t hear myself think.’

She cried in a voice of pain.

A deep hush fell. All was silent.

‘Oh, I have nothing to listen to!’ she exclaimed.