Sarah Saw a Triceratops

poem by Bill Nagelkerke , Illustrated by Cheryl Orsini

Learning intention:

I am learning to analyse the way visual techniques are used to draw the viewer’s eye to important aspects so that I can more effectively use visual elements in my storytelling.


Success criteria:

  • I can link the elements of the illustration to the text
  • I can identify the way framing and salience has been used by the illustrator
  • I can expand on the story in the poem and create an illustration that effectively links to the story.


Essential knowledge:

Use the glossary definitions of salience and framing to ensure students understand these concepts prior to the lesson.


After reading the poem, ask students to identify the way the picture and the text work together to tell the story. Answers may include:

  • Sarah looks angry in the picture, allowing readers to determine her tone in the second stanza
  • The triceratops looks pleased in the picture, suggesting that it is unfazed by Sarah’s frustration
  • The top is separating at the buttons and looks tight on the arms, confirming that the triceratops is stretching the top
  • There are multiple tops on the floor that the triceratops has clearly already tried on.


Discuss the way the illustrator has used framing and salience to depict different elements of the poem in the same picture. These may include:

  • The subject of the poem is the triceratops, who is shown in the foreground of the picture
  • Sarah is shown slightly further back as a secondary focus in the illustration, just as she is in the poem
  • A rack of clothes is shown in the background of the illustration, showing there is reason for Sarah to stop the triceratops, as there are more clothes to try on
  • The crumpled clothes are shown in the foreground drawing the viewers eye down to attract attention to the pile the triceratops has already potentially ruined.


Have students read the poem again and discuss the possibilities of what may happen next. Use guiding questions, such as:

  • What kind of condition will the tops be in?
  • Will the triceratops continue trying on tops despite Sarah telling it to stop?
  • How will Sarah’s sister react if she finds out a triceratops has been trying on her tops?
  • Will Sarah cover for the triceratops?


Inform students they are to brainstorm their own idea about what will happen next. Explain that they should write a paragraph to continue the story and create an accompanying illustration. In drawing their illustration, students should consider what is included in their writing and how they can best show it using framing and salience.

For an extension challenge, students can continue the story in poem form following the same rhyme scheme in the text (ABCB)