Sea Glass

poem by BJ Lee , illustrated by Gaye Chapman

Learning Intention: 

I am applying background knowledge to my creative writing so that I can create a realistic setting drawn on real world events. 

Success Criteria: 

  • I can provide detailed description of elements central to the composition. 
  • I can use research skills to collect information about a famous shipwreck, which would have resulted in a lot of sea glass.  
  • I can use my background knowledge of sea glass and shipwrecks to compose an original stanza of the poem. 

Before reading the poem, introduce the class to the phenomenon of sea glass through the article Where Does Sea Glass Come From? Students should compile a list of facts about sea glass from the article. Some topics they can cover include: Where can you find sea glass? How long is sea glass in the ocean?  The different names for sea glass? 

Read the poem as a class or alternatively ask children to listen to the audio recording if you have a digital subscription. After reading, students tick items from their fact list that were covered in the poem (the fact that it is rounded, has come from ships/shipwrecks, has washed up on a beach).  

Explain to students that a major source of sea glass used to be from shipwrecks. Then, introduce students to the case of Vasa Shipwreck that sunk off the coast of Stockholm, Sweden in 1628. Link the appearance of the Vasa with the illustration of the ship in the top right.  

Students should view a range of digital resources and collate information about the Vasa and the events surrounding its sinking. Some activities could include completing a Y Chart (see, hear, touch) to describe the ship, or completing a graphic organiser summary of the Vasa Museum’s webpage which requires students to identify three main ideas about the ship and some details about these ideas. Suggested digital resources about the Vasa shipwreck include:  

Finally, explain to students that they will compose an original stanza about the Vasa sinking to insert somewhere in ‘Sea Glass’. The stanza should contain some facts, ideas or details found in their research, but they can also use creative license. You may also instruct students to follow BJ Lee’s poetic structure of an ABCB rhyme structure and an alternating metre of 4 beats and 3 beats per line.  

For example:  

Like the Vasa’s tragic sinking 

Its riches gone to ground 

Lurking well beneath the water  

And only just found 

Students should write their stanza on a sticky note and then place it between the stanzas where they would like it to appear. The example above would be placed between stanzas 3 and 4. These stanzas could be turned into a class display, with the text of the poem written in a large font and the students work appearing around it on coloured paper and placed in the appropriate space.