Stop Motion

poem by Peter Friend , illustrated by Christopher Nielsen

Learning intention: 

I am learning to recognise and explain language features in texts so that I can compare two texts with similar themes. 

Success criteria: 

  • I can recognise and explain the analogy used in two poems. 
  • I can identify common themes between the two poems. 
  • I can apply these themes to life to evaluate their effectiveness. 


Essential Knowledge: 

  1. Information about identifying themes and applying them to life can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Theme.
  2. Visit the NSW Education Department’s page on Literary Devices and download the resource. Complete the first activity on Analogy and Simile on page 6 with the class, using the posters on pages 11-14 (How is Fear Like a Microwave? How is Enjoyment Like a Grasshopper? How is Control Like a Barcode? How is Power Like a Helicopter?)
  3. View the page Make Stop Motion Animation on the ACMI Museum of Screen Culture, watch the video and discuss the process behind stop motion animation.

Put the class into pairs and have them label themselves either A or B. Instruct students labelled A to read the poem Stop Motion. Instruct students labelled B to read the poem on page 21 labelled A Missed Opportunity. Each student should write down the literal meaning of their poem and the analogy. When complete, students compare their poems. 


Stop Motion – literal meaning: there’s a magpie on the lawn. Analogy: editing a stop motion film.  

A Missed Opportunity – literal meaning: there’s moonlight on the water in a birdbath but the birds are asleep and don’t get to splash in it. Analogy: the sleeping birds are missing the opportunity to be celebrities. (For students who are confused about the use of the word star in this instance, guide them to the word spotlight and ask what that word suggests.) 

Once students have had time to compare their poems with their partners, ask individual students to share their ideas with the class. Query if anyone noticed similarities between the poems. Students might have realised both poems mention birds and compare them to movies/movie stars. Ask students why the two poets might have both used this analogy – what connects birds and movies? What might it say about our lives? Remind the class of the English Textual Concepts video Theme to guide their thinking. 

Brainstorm what students know about birds. Sample answers include: 

  • They can fly 
  • They eat worms and insects 
  • They can bathe in birdbaths 
  • Most sleep at night 
  • They protect their young 
  • They can be kept in cages as pets 
  • There are many diverse types 
  • They can be colourful/flashy 
  • They’re all over the place 

Ask students if there are any connections between what they know about birds and what they think about movies and movie stars. They might notice the link between being colourful and flashy, or the fact that movies are common in our society. Students capable of more complex thinking might notice the symbolism of movie stars soaring to great heights. 

Write the following statements on the board: 

Movies have become part of our everyday life. 

Movie stars reach much higher levels of success than regular people. 

Ask students to contribute any of their own thoughts about the themes these two poems have in common. Go through each thematic statement and have students give a thumbs up or thumbs down as to whether it applies to their own life. Have some students discuss the reasons behind their answers.