One Small Request

poem by Suzy Levinson , illustrated by Christopher Nielsen

Learning Intention:

I am learning that apostrophes of contraction are used to signal missing letters so that I can use them in my writing.


Success Criteria:

  • I can identify contractions in the poem
  • I can discuss the change of feeling in the poem without contractions
  • I can match up contractions with their extended words


Essential knowledge for teachers and students:

Contractions are believed to have been used in the English language from the 17th Century with some evidence dating back to the use of some contractions in the 16th Century. We see many examples of contractions used in children’s literature through dialogue or in less formal writing, where the author is writing the way they speak. Contractions are recommended to be used when writers are trying to develop a conversational tone with their audience. It is important to note that an apostrophe is used to signal missing letters.


Reading and Viewing/ Text structure and organisation:

As a class, read through the poem and have students identify the contractions.

Well, Brown Cow, we meet again,

like every morn since who-knows-when.

Trudgin’ out here, rain or shine ...

gosh, I’m tired, but that’s just fine.

Now I ain’t one who’s ever pressed,

but bucket in hand, one small request:

CHOCOLATE MILK. A jug or two?

That would be right kind of you.


List the contractions on the board and as a class discuss the two words that have been combined.

Now ask students to re read the poem with the extended words, rather than the contraction. Ask the students – how different did it sound? (Answers may include a more formal sound, not as friendly, not as casual.)

Well, Brown Cow, we meet again,

like every morning since who-knows-when.

Trudging out here, rain or shine ...

gosh, I am tired, but that is just fine.

Now I am not one who is ever pressed,

but bucket in hand, one small request:

CHOCOLATE MILK. A jug or two?

That would be right kind of you.


Speaking and listening/ Responding to literature:

Pose the question “The use of contractions within the poem One small request, made the rhyme and rhythm of the poem better and therefore more enjoyable for the audience. Do you agree or disagree? Be prepared to back your statement with examples from the poem.


Give students time to discuss this question with a thinking partner before being expected to form an opinion.


Ask students to stand along an imaginary continuum from one end of the classroom to the other. Ask children to place themselves along the continuum from Agree strongly to Disagree Strongly.


Allow a forum of respectful conversation to occur, where different opinions are voiced, backed by evidence from the poem.

An example of an opinion may be:

“I strongly agree with the statement that the inclusion of contractions lead

to a more fluid, rhythmic piece. Examples such as Gosh I’m tired, but that’s just                                

 fine, would be jarring to the reader if written without contractions. What are your thoughts…… (insert name of student)?

Writing and Representing / Examining literature:


Having allowed this robust conversation to take place, and all children have had the opportunity to voice their opinion, ask students to write a written response to the question “How did the author use rhythm and rhyme to give momentum to the poem and enhance enjoyment for the reader?”