poem by Lisa Varchol Perron , illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Learning intentions:

I am learning about symbolism in poetry so that I can express my ideas beyond their literal meanings.


Success criteria:

  • I can interpret symbolism in a poem based on my own knowledge and feelings about the text.
  • I can consider the views of others about what a text may represent.
  • I can compose a poem using symbolism.


Essential knowledge:

Watch The School Magazine video Connotation, Imagery and Symbol prior to reading the text to ensure students understand the use of symbolism.


Ask students for their understanding of the word ‘migration’ in relation to birds and ensure students are aware that geese often migrate from their home to places with warmer weather in the colder seasons, then back home to breed during spring. Read the poem together or have students read it to themselves and consider what it means to them.

Referring back to the video, remind students that texts and images can be symbolic of different meanings to different people. Ask students to consider what a migrating flock of geese in the sky may symbolise to themselves or others. This may include ideas such as adventure, togetherness, a change of season, or even abandonment.

Students should then brainstorm a few different animals that symbolise something to them. For example, they may feel that a dog symbolises loyalty, a butterfly symbolises change, or an owl symbolises wisdom.

Analyse the poem, asking students to identify structural components as well as the textual content. These should include:

  • Single stanza
  • AABB rhyme scheme
  • 7 syllables in lines 1 and 2, and 8 syllables in lines 3 and 4
  • Sensory language (orange sky, autumn cry, flap my arms, honk right back)

Students should then choose their own animal to compose a poem, using the same structure. You may wish to first compose one as a class based on student suggestions or model one on the board, such as:

Dolphins flip into the air

Tumbling ‘round without a care

Dip and dive through the waves with glee

I watch them glide so fast and free.

Once completed, students should publish their poems with an illustration that represents what it means to them.