My Dad's a Marshmallow

story by Heather Gallagher , illustrated by Tohby Riddle

Learning Intention:


I am learning about metaphors and word play so that I can understand characterisation in a text.


Success Criteria:


  • I can identify metaphors
  • I can discuss how metaphor can be used to show aspects of character
  • I can create my own metaphor.


Essential knowledge:


Information and suggested teaching strategies for literary techniques including metaphors are included in the Stage 2 Reading - literary devices resource.


Oral language and communication:

Prior to reading the story write the title on the board: My Dad’s a Marshmallow.

Ask students to contribute ideas on what this phrase means. You can draw out answers by asking whether the dad in the story is actually made from marshmallow, or if it means something entirely different. Ask students to think about what a dad and a marshmallow could have in common.

Possible answers from students could include the following:

  • It is a metaphor
  • The dad is soft or sweet
  • The story is a fantasy story in which the characters are different sweets and lollies.


Next ask the class to suggest answers to the following question:

  • Is it a nice thing to compare your Dad to a marshmallow? Why or why not?

Answers from students could vary, so ask students to elaborate by considering the why/why not? Part of the question.


Once the initial discussion has occurred, ask students to complete a think pair share activity in which they predict what the story might be about. They are to think about the following:

  • The Dad character
  • The plot line – including complication
  • How the child feels about their dad

Understanding text:

Read the first part of the story together until ‘Because Dad is embarrassing! Super embarrassing!’

Complete the table comparing other dads with the narrator’s dad:

Other people's dads The narrator's dad




Suggested answers include:

Other people’s dads are surfing pros, winning marathons, and karate black belts. The narrator’s dad plays with the dog, snoozes on the couch and plays scrabble. He is a softie.


Discuss the following questions:

  • How does the narrator feel about their dad? (suggested answer: embarrassed)
  • How do we know? (the narrator repeats the word ‘embarrassing’)
  • Do you find your parents/guardians embarrassing sometimes?
  • Do you know why the narrator calls his dad a marshmallow yet? (some students might have noticed the phrase ‘Mum says Dad is a softie…’ but its ok if nobody has worked it out yet!)
  • Choose one of the other dads mentioned, can you create a metaphor to describe one of the other dads? (an example could compare the marathon running dad to an express train (my dad is an express train).


Continue reading the story until ‘I try to get his attention, put a hand across my throat in the universal sign for ‘quit it, Dad!’ (on page 16).

Write a list of all the things that dad does on camp that cause embarrassment for Jordie (the narrator).

Suggestions include:

  • Kissing Mum goodbye
  • Knitting on the bus
  • Bringing Jordie’s toy for him
  • Crying during the movie
  • Wearing a wetsuit
  • Singing a song loudly


Ask students the following questions:

  • What do YOU think about Jordie’s dad?
  • Would you like to have Jordie’s dad as your dad? Why or why not
  • Is your dad/guardian more like Jordie’s dad or the other dads?


Continue reading to the end of the story. As a class, discuss the following:

  • What heroic action does Jordie’s dad take in the climax of the story?
  • How does this change Jordie’s perspective on his dad?
  • Why does Jordie use the metaphor ‘My dad’s a marshmallow?’
  • Do you think this is a good way to describe Jordie’s dad? Why or why not?
  • Can you think of another metaphor for Jordie’s dad?

Creating text:


Students are to create their own metaphor for a person they know and love. They are to follow the pattern below:

My _____________ is a _____________.

Students may like to write multiple of these for different people in their lives.

After creating their own metaphor, students are to write a paragraph justifying their choice of metaphor.

They can use the following scaffold to assist:

I wrote a metaphor about my _________________________________. I compared them to a ________________. I chose this comparison because _____________________________________________.

It shows that I think my __________________ is ___________________________________________________.


Assessment for/as learning:


Complete a peer assessment. Students are to swap their metaphor and the paragraph they have written to justify their choice of metaphor. They complete the peer review checklist below:

My partner’s metaphor:

  • Compared a friend or family member with something relevant
  • Made sense and helped me understand my partner’s friend or family member
  • Was explained well in the paragraph
  • Caused me to respond in a particular way.