Monet's Lilies

poem by Karyn Savage , photo of Monet's painting The Water Lily Pond by Alamy

Learning Intention:


I am learning to discuss texts using metalanguage so that I can explain how the author’s use of vivid, emotive vocabulary conveys the theme of the text.


Success Criteria:

  • I can use identify literary and poetic techniques used in a text.
  • I can identify the theme of a text.
  • I can explain how literary and poetic techniques can be used to convey a theme.


Essential knowledge:

For more information about messages in texts, view The School Magazine’s video on Theme.


Oral language and communication:

Ask the class if anyone knows who Monet was. Discuss his impressionist style as an artist (Impressionism is more concerned about giving a visual feel of a moment using the shifting effects of light and colour rather than an accurate depiction), and that he had a series of works titled Water Lilies.

Display Monet’s Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies, which can be found on The MET’s webpage, or find a similar picture of one of Monet’s bridge and the water lilies to display.

Give students a few minutes to brainstorm all the words they can think of while looking at the painting. Encourage them to write down as many words as possible. They should start with obvious words such as flowers, beautiful and bridge, before thinking deeper about the art and the scene.

When they’ve finished, students can share any interesting words they thought of with the class.

Scroll through the List of Water Lily Paintings for students to get a better idea of Monet’s other water lily works.


Understanding text:

Read the poem Monet’s Lilies. Note any words in the poem that students may have written for their own brainstorm. Discuss other interesting vocabulary from the poem, such as scumbled, caress and maiden. If you have a digital subscription, complete the interactive activity Vocabulary in Monet’s Lilies.


Creating text:

Point out the quote from Monet at the top of the poem:

My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.

Ask students to consider the quote, the painting and the poem and ask what these three texts have in common. Students may recognise they are all about the beauty of nature.

Explain that students will be working in pairs to investigate how the poem conveys a certain theme about nature by answering three questions:

  1. What is the theme (message) of the poem?
  2. What poetic and literary techniques are used?
  3. How do the poetic and literary techniques help convey the message?


For more capable students, allow them to research the metalanguage around poetic and literary techniques and to come to their own conclusions.


For students who need scaffolding:

- Discuss what the poet might be saying about nature, referring to Monet’s quote at the top (An example theme: Nature is the true masterpiece)

- Discuss literary techniques such as metaphor and personification and have students find examples of each in the text (Some metaphor examples: a celebration in a frame; the garden is by far the finest Masterpiece of all. Some personification examples: breathe as one; dressed each maiden lily; weeping willows wade; nature’s finery.)

- Discuss poetic techniques such as alliteration (e.g. where weeping willows wade), vocabulary choice and rhyme (e.g. one/sun)

- Have students identify all the vocabulary to do with colour and explain how the poem itself is a palette

- Ask students to name which specific uses of literary and poetic techniques help convey the theme they’ve identified (For example, the use of colour vocabulary shows that vivid colours in nature create a masterpiece the same way a painter creates a masterpiece on canvas; the metaphor about the garden being a masterpiece states this theme directly)


Assessment for/as learning:

Students select the best graphic organiser to present their findings, such as a concept map, Venn diagram, chart, fishbone or other, using their own colour scheme and interpretations to convey the theme. For comparison charts, students can place literary/poetic techniques that convey the theme on one side, and literary/poetic techniques that do not convey the theme on the other. More capable students could use Venn diagrams to compare two or more themes they’ve identified.


Students do a gallery walk to view each other’s work.