Old Outback Shack

poem by Karyn Savage , illustrated by Tohby Riddle

Learning intention: 

I am learning about the way composers use descriptive language to create imagery in the reader’s minds so that I can enrich my own writing. 


Success criteria: 

  • I can identify and make note of descriptive language in a text. 
  • I can use descriptive language to create an interpretive illustration. 
  • I can recognise and discuss the artistic interpretations of others. 


Essential knowledge: 

For more information about creating imagery in your writing, watch The School Magazine’s video for the English Textual Concept of Connotation, Imagery and Symbol 


Without showing students the illustration, read the poem aloud, or if you have a digital subscription, you may wish to play the audio version. Allow students to just listen the first time. When the poem is finished, ask students if there are any unfamiliar words and clarify meanings as necessary to ensure students have a full understanding of the vocabulary used. This may include words such as decrepit (old and run-down) and tinderbox (dry and easily flammable). 

Explain to students that they will be sketching their interpretation of the old outback shack based on the author’s description. Ensure students have their books as well as pencils and paper, then read or play the poem again, this time pausing after each stanza. Students should jot down key descriptors as they listen. These are likely to include: 

  • decrepit, silvered and bare 
  • tinderbox stack 
  • old outback shack 
  • storehouse 
  • rotted and worn your roof hangs slack 
  • rusted tin sheets 
  • creaking beams 
  • light filters through each gap and crack 
  • Barely standing 
  • Fading alone, the bushland your view 

Once the poem has finished, students should have a few minutes to brainstorm how to bring the descriptors together to form one picture. They should then begin sketching the old outback shack and may wish to also add background and colour to their picture. 


Assessment for/as learning: 

Once completed, conduct a gallery walk to compare and discuss students’ interpretations of the poem and reveal the illustration. Discuss the magazine artist’s interpretation of the poem and what similarities and differences it may have with the students’ pictures, explaining that all are equally valid.