Poem by Denise Kirby , illustrated by Matt Ottley

Design a shape poem following the rhythm of the poem’s movement capturing the map of a bushwalk.

Read the poem out loud to the class. Ask students what was different about this poem to other poems they’ve read. Students should notice the lack of a continuous rhythm when it comes to the placement of rhyming words.

Ask students if anyone has been on a bushwalk before. Ask them to think about how people move through a bushwalk, such as:

- meandering down long, winding paths

- jumping over small streams

- ducking under branches

- circling back the way they’d come

Tell the class you will be reading the poem again, but this time everyone reads together. Explain that they should be thinking about which parts of the poem denote which parts of the bushwalk. Read the poem again as a class, then discuss what students think. Possible answers include

- “at the back of the shack” has rhymes in short, sharp succession and therefore might denote climbing down rocks or jumping over a stream

- in the first stanza, weep and sleep are close together, but meet is four lines down, which perhaps could denote circling back

Read the poem a third time, this time with everyone clapping each time they hear a rhyme. This should give them a firm idea of the short, sharp rhythm versus the longer lines.

Take students to the playground with copies of the poem. In pairs, tell them to find a path along the playground that follows the rhythm of the poem. Ask them if they would scramble up the ladder for “at the back of the shack” because the rhyme makes it feel fast, while they might go down the slide for ‘and the ocean laps on the sandy beach where the creek trickles out’ because it’s longer lines without a rhyme. Give them time to think about the movement of the poem and explore what the rhythm means.

When students return to the classroom, give each an A4 paper and have them draw a faint line showing movement of the poem that might match a bushwalking path. When they’re happy with their path, they write the words of the poem along the line. Once finished, students decorate the map with details such as rivers, trees, fallen logs etc. Encourage them to use images described in the poem.