Nice to Eat You

poem by Jonathan Sellars , illustrated by Ross Morgan

Learning Intention: 

I am learning to relate to texts using my own personal experiences so that I can understand the way my perspective affects the way I read and write stories.

Success Criteria: 

  • I can discuss my feelings about fears and scary characters using my own experiences and knowledge.
  • I can contribute my ideas to a group brainstorm.
  • I can compose a poem based on a collection of ideas about a fictional character.

Focus question: 

How does our own context affect our views of characters when reading stories?

Oral language:

Prior to reading the text, ask students if they have, or have ever had, a fear of the dark. Discuss the reasons that this is such a common fear and how our imaginations can run wild when the lights go out. Have students suggest things that our imaginations create when we’re in the dark (e.g. ghosts, monsters) and how the fear of these dissipate when we can see our surroundings. You may wish to watch the video Why Are We Afraid of the Dark? to normalise and explain these fears if time allows.

Discuss the way movies such as Hotel Transylvania and Monsters Inc and books like The BFG (as well as any other examples your class may be familiar with) take these common childhood fears and turn them into something friendly and humorous, while others, such as the Goosebumps series, take a scarier approach and reinforces those fears.

Understanding text:

Read the poem ‘Nice to Eat You’ and ask students which approach the author has taken (they should identify that it is a scarier one). Ask students to consider the way the author has achieved this. Answers may include:

  • Making it a third person point of view (by saying ‘you’ and ‘your’) to make the reader feel as though the monster is talking directly to them
  • Placing the monster extremely close in the first two lines by directly saying they are under the reader’s bed
  • Suggesting that the monster is always there
  • Creating an image of the monster sharpening its claws and picking victims out of its jaws
  • Threatening to eat the reader
  • Leaving the time for attack open-ended to raise the reader’s anxiety
  • Finishing the poem with The End (for you is soon)! to suggest the time is drawing nearer that the reader will be eaten.

Discuss some other scary fictional characters that people may fear are lurking around in the dark. Examples may include:

  • Vampires
  • Werewolves
  • Ghosts
  • Mummies
  • Martians

Split the class into small groups so that each suggestion is assigned to one group. Explain that they are to brainstorm together to come up with characteristics that make their assigned character scary. This may be aspects such as what they look like (e.g. a vampire’s sharp teeth, a werewolf’s sharp claws, a mummy’s bandages), what their personality is like (e.g. menacing, sneaky, aggressive) and what kind of risk they pose (e.g. biting, abducting, haunting).

Distribute poster paper for each group to write their brainstorms on. When they are completed, display all posters so that they are visible to the class. Briefly revise the ideas each group has come up with and give an opportunity to the rest of the class to add their own ideas to any posters they have further suggestions for.

Creating text:

Inform students they will be choosing one of the characters from the posters to compose a poem about and they can use ideas on the poster to help them. Explain that they should follow the style of the text by composing their poem in first person so that they are speaking as the character directly to the reader. You may wish to model a poem on the board or create a collaborative one as a guide using a character who is not on one of the class posters. For example:

I am the giant looming above your house

To me you are just a little mouse

A walnut to crack beneath my feet

A tiny but delicious treat

Don’t take me for a big, cuddly friend

Or that will simply be your end

If you try to climb up for a hug

I’ll just squash you like a bug

So stay inside and quiver in fear

And I’ll keep waiting for you just out here

Assessment for learning:  

Each student should then compose their own scary poem based on one of the characters on the posters. Using the characteristics from the brainstorm, they should create a frightening tone by creating imagery and using threatening language. Have students swap their poems with a partner and give each other feedback using the Two Stars and a Wish method.