article by Karen Jameyson , illustrated by Fifi Colston

Learning intention:

I am learning to identify the way authors engage readers of non-fiction texts so that I can deliver written facts in more entertaining ways for the audience.


Success criteria:

  • I can identify facts contained in the text
  • I can identify ways the author has made their writing interesting and give examples from the text
  • I can research my own choice of animal
  • I can apply the author’s style when writing a list of facts.


Essential knowledge:

To learn more about identifying the style an author writes in, watch the English Textual Concepts video Style.


After reading the article, ask students to recall the types of information provided about rats. Answers may include:

  • Where they live (underground)
  • When they are active (at night)
  • How fast they move (Almost 13km per hour)
  • Special abilities (squeezing through small openings, escaping danger, treading water, holding their breath)
  • Interesting body parts (Sensitive whiskers, ears with outstanding hearing, eyes that can see above them, tails that help them balance, teeth that don’t stop growing)
  • Lifespan (1-2 years)
  • Birth rates (8 babies per year)

Discuss the way that the author makes these facts more interesting for the audience (you may wish to compare it to an information report if students are experienced with writing them). Ask students to share their observations and give examples from the text of techniques the author has used to communicate the information in an entertaining and lighthearted way. Answers may include:

  • Opening the main article with a rhetorical question (Did you know that there are more rats on Earth than there are people?)
  • Using punctuation to enhance points (e.g., Rats can hold their breath for three entire minutes!)
  • Using clever sub-headings (e.g., Hide and Squeak, Oh Rats!)
  • Using imaginative ways to explain the importance of rats’ features (e.g., Without its tail….well….whoops! Let’s just say the rat would not be on that powerline for long.)


Explain to students that they are going to do their own information-gathering of an animal of their choice and use it to write a list of animal facts in an interesting way. Model the process by doing the following:

  • Choose an animal the class is likely to know a lot of facts about
  • Ask students what facts they know about this animal and write their answers on the board
  • Have students ‘Think, Pair and Share’ to come up with funny or interesting ways to explain these facts (e.g., “Just when you think baby elephants can’t get any cuter, they suck their trunks for comfort in the same way human babies might suck a dummy or their fingers. Awww”)


Once students understand the process, they should begin their information-gathering using library books or online sources and begin writing their list.