Moon Dance

poem by Jackie Hosking , illustrated by Christopher Nielsen

Learning intention:  

I am learning to use prior knowledge and textual information to make inferences, interpreting and analysing information and ideas in texts so that I can make inferences when I read.  

Success criteria:  

  • I can look for textual clues to assist with making inferences.  
  • I can discuss ideas and connect information to exclude ideas that are incorrect. 
  • I can identify clues that would allow readers to make inferences about a creature’s identity.  
  • I can use these clues when composing a poem.  

Read the poem Moon Dance to students, taking care to ensure they cannot view the accompanying illustration. Those with a digital subscription might prefer to listen to the audio version of the poem instead. Emphasise that the poem does not mention who or what creature the narrator is describing in the poem. Tell students not to share any ideas they might have for now about what the subject matter of the poem.  

Inform students that when making inferences about information in texts readers use a combination of textual clues and their own knowledge.  

Tell students that they will be striving to make inferences about the subject matter of the poem.  

Discuss clues in Moon Dance, that might provide insight into who the poem is about. List these on the board. For example:  

  • They dance when the moon is full (bats, wolves, human party goers) 
  • They are described as being ‘in violet lace and blushing tulle’ (party streamers, balloons) 
  • The poem describes them rising from the sea and walking on land (turtles, seabirds) 
  • They leave no trace when they return except for the pink and purple lace ( 
  • Once discarded they can no longer dance, and their remnants are strewn across the shore  
  • Their tulle and lace is tattered and ragged and they look like weeds 

Next to the first clue, list people/creatures that possess these attributes. Discuss students’ ideas instructing students to provide reasons for any ideas they exclude. Provide an example such as, not a bat, as they do not look like they are wearing pink and purple lace’. 

Place students in pairs and instruct them to repeat this process with the remaining clues. Once students have had time to discuss their ideas, discuss students’ inferences and predictions before revealing the subject matter by sharing the accompanying illustration.  

Tell students that they will be composing their own clues about a creature that allow others to make inferences. Collaboratively select an animal, for example a dog. List commonly held ideas and well-known facts students have about dogs. Sample responses might include:  

  • physical attributes such as they possess four legs and a tail 
  • they are loyal 
  • they make good guards 
  • they like catching balls. 

Discuss how these ideas might be included in a poem, without explicitly stating what the creature is. Refer back to Moon Dance to identify the rhyming pattern (rhyming couplets). Collaboratively compose a poem featuring rhyming couplets about an animal, providing clues about the animal’s identify without explicitly stating what it is. Use a rhyming dictionary such as RhymeZone to assist with identifying rhyming words. A sample response might be:  

They run like the wind to catch a ball that might hide,  

But a stranger approaches and they are by your side,  

They have four legs to run around, 

They’ll be the best friend you’ve ever found. 

Instruct students to work with the partner as previously or in a small group to collaboratively select an animal before identifying well-known facts about the creature. Tell students that they should use this information to compose a brief poem, providing clues that would allow readers to make inferences about what the creature might be, without explicitly stating it.  

Once students have had time to compose their poems, pair groups with another. Instruct them to use the clues in the poem their peers have composed to make inferences about the creatures identity in their peer’s poem.