Sloth Fur: A Hairy, Green Ecosystem

article by Mina , illustrated by Shelley Knoll-Miller

Learning intention:

I am learning to use audience-appropriate metalanguage to describe the effect of ideas so that I can write a review.


Success criteria:

  • I can identify the target audience for different texts.
  • I can describe ideas of representation in a text.
  • I can use my point of view and personal preferences to write a review of a text.


Essential knowledge:

  • Information about point of view can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Point of View.
  • More information about representation can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Representation.


Focus question: How can representation be adapted for different audiences?


Prior to reading, ask class about their personal views on sloths, such as if they know what sloths are, whether they’ve had positive or negative experiences of sloths and if they’ve seen sloths presented in media. View the excerpt of Zootopia: Flash the Sloth Laughing Scene, where the main characters encounter a sloth named Flash (up until 1 min 49 sec). Ask students to revise their personal views on sloths after seeing this excerpt.


Discuss the target audience for Zootopia. Students should agree the movie is targeted at kids, with jokes also thrown in for adults. Discuss the target audience for the magazine Orbit (school students, mainly year fives). Explain that the class is about to read an article about sloths in the magazine Orbit. To stimulate discussion, ask:

  • How might the article in Orbit differ from the Zootopia excerpt?
  • Why do you think that is?
  • What sort of information do you expect to be in the Orbit article?
  • Do you think you’ll like the article? Why or why not?


As a class, read the article Sloth Fur or listen to the audio recording. Afterwards, ask:

  • What surprised you about the article?
  • How did the representation of sloths differ between the article and the Zootopia excerpt?
  • Why do you think that is?
  • Have your feelings on sloths changed?
  • Did you like the article?


Encourage students to think about how their personal feelings have affected their reaction to the article. If students love everything about sloths, perhaps they find this new information fascinating. Some students may have enjoyed the sloth humour in Zootopia but disliked reading about faeces. Other students may have found the sloth scene in Zootopia boring but were interested again once poo was mentioned. Have students discuss their specific reactions with a partner.


Explain that students will be writing a review of the article Sloth Fur. Remind them that a review:

  • summarises the text
  • describes how features may or may not appeal
  • includes specific details such as quotes from the text
  • identifies an audience
  • includes a final judgement, such as a star rating


Invite students to refer to the Zootopia scene when comparing the representation of sloths in the text. A sample review is below.


Sloth Fur: A Hairy, Green Ecosystem by Mina in issue 10 of Orbit 2023 examines the ecosystem that exists within a sloth’s fur, including algae and the sloth moth. This article has a lot of unique and interesting facts that I didn’t know about sloths. I personally love sloths because of the humour surrounding them, such as the representation of Flash the sloth in Zootopia. However, this article talks about algae on the sloth’s fur and larvae eating sloth poo (the article makes it extra disturbing by saying the larvae is “snacking away”), so it might be more suited for hardcore fans of sloths, or at least students who like gross things. 4/5 stars.

Assessment of/for learning:

Self-assessment checklist:

  • Includes the title of the article
  • Summarises the article
  • Identifies an audience for the article
  • Mentions the varying representation of sloths according to audience
  • Uses a quote from the article
  • Gives a personal opinion on the article