The Beach at Night

poem by Diana Smith , illustrated by Ross Morgan

Learning Intention:

I am learning to use visual representations to translate a text so that I can form a deeper understanding of the text.


Success Criteria:

  • I can connect the meaning of a text to a symbolic colour.
  • I can connect a symbol to a text.
  • I can draw an image based on a text’s theme.


Essential knowledge:

This activity is based on the Colour, Image, Symbol activity in Sketches and Squiggles.

For more information about messages in texts, view The School Magazine’s video on Theme.

For more information about symbols, view The School Magazine’s video on Connotation, Imagery and Symbol (view the video from 3 min 41 sec).

For an overview of colour symbolism, view the website Colour Meanings.


Oral language and communication:

Display the website Colour Meanings and discuss the symbolism of the colours on the graphic organiser. Note: Ensure students understand that different cultures may connect different meanings to the colours.


Explain that you’re going to read a poem aloud, and students need to decide what colour best represents the poem and why.


Understanding text:

Without showing them the illustration, read The Beach at Night aloud to the class. Have them do some silent writing in their workbooks as to what colour best represents the poem and why. Keep the colour meanings graphic organiser on display for students to refer to. Most students will agree that black is the best colour for the poem, as it represents night.


View The School Magazine’s video on Connotation, Imagery and Symbol from 3 min 41 sec to the end. Ask students what symbol might represent the poem. After class discussion, students draw their chosen symbol in their workbooks and write a short explanation below.


Creating text:

View The School Magazine’s video on Theme.


Read through the poem again, this time displaying the illustration. Explain that as a class you’re going to figure out the themes – messages – of the poem. Have students study the illustration and reread the lines:

when darkness locks the door


when sand reveals the doings

down on the beach at night.


Ask students:

- What sort of feelings do each of these lines give the reader? (Answers will vary, though students might note a sense of danger, foreboding or mystery)

- How are these lines connected? (Answers will vary, though students might note that secrets and forbidden things are connected to these lines)

- What do you think of when you hear “locked door”? (Possible answers: secrets, hiding, danger)

- What does the “sand reveals the doings” suggest about nighttime on the beach? (That unknown things happen on the beach in the dark)



- What sort of theme (message) might these things suggest?


Do a think, pair, share on what students think the theme for this poem might be. Some ideas:

- We can’t know everything all the time

- Hidden things will eventually be revealed

- After dark times, light comes again

- There are always things happening, even when we’re not aware


Have students draw another symbol, this one representing the theme of the poem instead of the literal meaning. They should also write an explanation underneath. (For example, mysteries might be represented by a key, secrets represented by a finger in front of lips or hope represented by a rising sun.)


Students share their colour, first symbol and second symbol with a partner, discussing their answers.


Assessment for/as learning:

As an exit slip, ask students to name a colour they think symbolises themselves and explain why.