Paragliders Bald Hill Lookout

poem by Kate O’Neil , illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Learning intention:  

I am learning to identify different types of figurative language so I can use it more meaningfully in my writing. 


Success criteria: 

  • I can explain how imagery is created through figurative language. 
  • I can identify different types of figurative language in a text. 
  • I can use figurative language to describe a scene in my own writing. 


Essential knowledge: 

Have students read the poem, or if you have a digital subscription, play the audio recording and ask them to close their eyes and visualise the poem as it is read out loud. Discuss the use of figurative language and the way it creates imagery for the reader.  

Analyse the poem one stanza at a time by asking students to compare the images created figurative language to the meaning in the poem. Answers may include: 

  • ‘High over the sea there’s a sky party!’ suggests there is a lot of colour, fun and movement in the sky. 
  • ‘Primped like pat-a-cakes’ suggests something looks carefully decorated and arranged like cupcakes. 
  • ‘clouds are playing chase’ suggests clouds are moving along in the wind. 
  • ‘and a scatter of jelly bean gliders wheels in slow motion’ describes the colours and shapes of paragliders as they move through the sky. 
  • ‘all bright on the blue icing of the summer day.’ describes the clear blue backdrop of the sky and the ocean. 

Remind students that there are different figurative language devices. Discuss the differences between metaphors, similes and personification: 

Metaphors – Describe something as another thing (e.g. he is an angel, that test was a piece of cake). 

Similes – Describe something by making a comparison with something else (e.g. he felt as fresh as a daisy, she ran like the wind). 

Personification – attributes human characteristics to animals and objects (e.g. the storm was angry, the tree danced in the breeze). 


Ask students to stand up at their desks for a quick game of up-side-down. Explain that when you read a line to them from the poem, they should put both arms up if they think it is a metaphor, both arms to the side if they think it is a simile, and both arms down if they think it is personification. Read out the lines as follows: 

  • ‘There’s a sky party!’ (metaphor) 
  • ‘Primped like pat-a-cakes’ (simile) 
  • ‘clouds are playing chase’ (personification) 
  • ‘and a scatter of jelly bean gliders wheels in slow motion’ (metaphor) 
  • ‘all bright on the blue icing of the summer day’ (metaphor) 


To further familiarise students with these types of figurative language, the game can be continued with lines from songs and movies, such as (show or read these lines only): 

  • Charlie XCX: New Shapes – ‘Deep in the dark of your brain like a star in space’ (simile) 
  • Dua Lipa: Levitating – ‘I got you, moonlight, you’re my starlight (metaphor) 
  • Mike Posner: Please Don’t Go – ‘I feel the sun creeping up’ (personification) 
  • Ed Sheeran: The A Team – ‘Crumbling like pastries (simile) 
  • Michael Jackson: Thriller – ‘You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes’ (personification) 
  • Shawn Mendes: Stitches – ‘Just like a moth drawn to the flame’ (simile) 
  • Gym Class Heroes: Stereo Hearts – ‘My heart’s a stereo, it beats for you so listen close’ (metaphor) 
  • Auli’I Cravalho: How Far I’ll Go (Moana) - See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me…’ (personification) 
  • Tom Cochrane: Life is a Highway – ‘Life is a highway, I wanna ride it all night long’ (metaphor) 

Have students close their eyes and visualise an outdoor scene that makes them happy. It could be people swimming at the beach, puppies playing at the park, or boats bobbing on the water. Instruct them to write down some keywords and descriptions for what they see. 

They should then use figurative language to create imagery on the page and form it into a poem. There should be freedom with structure, as the focus is on the figurative language and imagery. Explain to students that this could be as simple as a few sentences formed into stanzas, and model an example on the board, such as: 

Disco lights twinkle 

Against `a black velvet cloak 

Lighting and delighting its audience below 


A lonely round light shows its face 

As the clouds move along 

Looking for their next destination 


A star streaks across the dark canvas 

Burning up like a fireball 

Disappearing in the blink of an eye