My Big Campout with Mum

poem by Sarah Marhevsky , illustrated by Alen Timofeyev

Learning Intention:

I am learning to understand how vocabulary is used to express greater precision of meaning, through technical terms so that I can compose texts that project authority.

Success Criteria:

  • I am learning to analyse a poem to identify how Tier 3 vocabulary assists with projecting authority.
  • I can identify Tier 3 vocabulary relevant to a topic of my choosing.
  • I can compose a poem that features Tier 3 vocabulary to project authority.

Essential knowledge:

View the video Authority from the English Textual Concepts.

Discuss the video and ensure students understand that authority refers to how trustworthy a text is. Discuss how the authority of a text might be demonstrated, such as by whether it is written by an expert, whether it is written in the appropriate style and whether it is published by a reputable source.

Discuss the fact that it can also refer to authority over a text, such as who controls the message as in editors and any limitations of publishing such as the word limit. Finally, ensure students note that readers also have authority over texts in the way they use their personal ideas and experiences to interpret a text.

Ensure students are aware of what technical terms are (subject specific vocabulary) and that these also come under the term Tier 3 Vocabulary. View Vocabulary- Selecting Words to Teach for more on Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary.


Display the following version of My Big Campout with Mum, with the technical terms (Tier 3 vocabulary) removed:


I’ve spent the last week packing for
my first big camping trip.
I’ve rolled my clothes up, neat and tight,

and double-checked my list.


All the things I need,

are wrapped up with my rope.

Lots of things nestle next
to bandages and soap.


To start a fire, I’ve bundled up

some matches.

The food will last

for fifty-seven meals.


I’m prepared to camp

at twenty thousand feet.
I even have a walking stick

that turns into a seat!


So come on, Mum! Let’s hit the road!

It’s all packed in the car.
What do you mean, we’re staying here?

We’re camping in our yard?


Discuss the following:


  • What is the subject matter of the poem? (A first camping trip)
  • Rate how knowledgeable about camping the narrator of the poem seems on a scale of one to ten, with ten meaning having an expert level while one means no knowledge whatsoever. (Most likely students will rate the knowledge around a five, as the narrator seems to have some knowledge as they have packed some useful camping equipment, but their understanding seems fairly limited which reflects the fact that this will be their first-time camping)
  • How enjoyable did you find the poem?


Understanding text:

Read the version of My Big Campout with Mum that appears in Orbit or listen to the audio file. Discuss how this version differs from the one displayed, ensuring students identify that the version in the magazine features technical terms (Tier 3 vocabulary). Identify the technical terms and discuss the meanings of any students are unfamiliar with. For example:

  • Crampons
  • Carabiners
  • Flint
  • Steel
  • Dehydrated
  • Bivouac

Select the first word on the list, crampons, and create a word-web placing this word in the middle of the board, inside a circle. Discuss any ideas students might have about the meaning of the word, its root word or anything else the word makes students think of. Draw lines coming out from the circle and write each of these ideas at the end of each line. For example:

  • Cramp
  • Pain
  • Going on something

Place students with a partner and instruct them to select words from the list identified and to create further word webs for each of the words. Share responses.

Use the following questions to reflect on the impact of including Tier 3 vocabulary in the poem:

  • How does it feel to encounter words you are unfamiliar with? (It feels interesting, challenging and unusual)
  • How does this impact your enjoyment of texts? (It piques my interest as I have to make predictions about what might be the meanings of the unfamiliar words)
  • Why do you think writers might choose to use Tier 3 vocabulary? (To make texts more interesting, to challenge readers, to show they are experts on a topic)
  • How might you incorporate Tier 3 vocabulary in your own writing? (I will try to incorporate tier 3 vocabulary to make the texts I compose more interesting)

Instruct students to re-rate the narrator for their knowledgeability of camping. (Most likely students will provide a far higher rating now).


Creating text:

Refer to My Big Campout with Mum and remind students of the subject (an exciting event, a night of camping). Inform students that they will be composing a poem about something fun or exciting that they have been involved in. Suggest topics, such as cultural celebrations, trips, or school events. Tell students that they will be required to include technical terms and Tier 3 vocabulary to impact readers’ enjoyment and to speak with authority on their chosen topic. Discuss how students might obtain the Tier 3 vocabulary, ensuring students acknowledge that they can identify terms through research, either online or in the school library, or by talking to experts on the topic such as their peers or their teachers.


Display a variety of terms that students might find useful to use in relation to a school event, for example:

  • Ceremonial
  • Etiquette
  • Cohesion
  • Centenary
  • Alumni

Those with a digital subscription can refer students to the interactive task on Tier 3 vocabulary now.

Discuss how these ideas might be incorporated into a poem. Refer to My Big Campout with Mum to identify the style. Ensure students note the following:

  • Each stanza features four lines
  • The rhyming scheme used in an ABCB pattern
  • Sentences generally run over two lines

Tell students that they should strive to follow the author’s style as much as possible. Inform them they don’t need to focus on including these elements initially. Instead, they should aim to get their ideas down before editing their poems for stylistic elements.

Students may use a thesaurus or a rhyming dictionary to identify rhyming words.

Gradually release responsibility by composing a collaborative poem first as a class. For example:


It was the day of the event,

To mark the school centenary.

There was food and treats galore,

Even crème brulee in blueberry.


The alumni had all gathered,

In the gleaming school hall.

We interacted with etiquette,

And spoke of times we could recall.


The school choir sang cohesively,

They’d been practicing for weeks.

When the principal took the lectern,

He showed his presenting techniques.

Place students with a partner and instruct them to compose their poems by completing the following steps:

  • Select a topic
  • Research the topic to identify Tier 3 vocabulary
  • Compose a poem
  • Edit the poem to suit the style used in My Big Campout with Mum

Assessment for/as learning:

Display the following exit ticket question and instruct students to respond to it in their workbooks:

  • How does language, particularly Tier 3 vocabulary, impact readers’ engagement and enjoyment of texts?