The Fishing Trip

story by Terry Lavelle , illustrated by Douglas Holgate

Learning intention:

I am learning to create spoken literary texts that adapt elements of a text I have experienced in an innovative way.

Success criteria:

  • I can analyse a text to identify characters’ personalities based on their interactions with each other.
  • I can compose a brief role-play to reveal chosen characteristics.
  • I can make inferences about the characteristics portrayed in the performances of my peers.

Essential Knowledge:

View the video on Character from The School Magazine. Ensure students identify the following key points:

  • Characters drive the action.
  • Characters have to need or want something and set out in pursuit of their goal.
  • Readers are able to connect when they know the characters characteristics and goal.


Inform students that one method authors use for revealing a character’s characteristics is to show them interacting with another character.

Read the first column of The Fishing Trip up to the end of the three stars (***) or listen to the audio recording. Discuss what can be inferred about the personalities of both the main character and Ray Melton and the relationship between both characters. For example:

  • The narrator was surprised to be invited fishing by Ray. Readers can infer this means that Ray and the main character are not usually friends.
  • Ray might be a friendly person as he is inviting the main character out fishing with him.
  • Ray knows where the main character lives, which is a surprise to him. Readers can infer that Ray must have taken a keen interest in the main character to discover where he lives, which might imply that Ray is hoping they can be friends.
  • Ray knows lots about fishing.
  • The main character knows very little about fishing.
  • The main character is open to trying new things as he is happy to try fishing.

Place students in pairs and tell them to continue reading to the end of The Fishing Trip or listen to the audio recording. Instruct them to jot two columns in their workbooks, labelling one ‘main character’ and the other ‘Ray’. Tell students to note the information they find out about each of the characters in the table.

Once students have had time to read the remainder of the story, discuss information they discovered about the characters and their personalities. Sample responses include:

  • Both the main character and Ray are good with time keeping as they arrive early.
  • Ray tells the others to watch out for the brambles which implies he is caring.
  • The main character is disgusted about hooking a worm which implies he cares about creatures.
  • The main character finds fishing gross which implies he is more squeamish than the other two boys.
  • Ray is keen to ask the main character about aliens which the main character believes is the real reason they invited him. Readers can infer from this that perhaps Ray isn’t as friendly as he first appeared and that instead he had an ulterior motive for inviting the main character, particularly when once the main character doesn’t reveal any information about the alien sightings the Ray and Chas decide to end the fishing trip.
  • The main character knows what ‘weird stuff’ Ray and Chas are referring to but prefers not to share information with them which implies he is a private person.
  • The main character is in fact an alien in disguise which explains why he was cagey when the others asked about aliens.

Tell students that revealing a character’s personality through their interactions with others is a far more sophisticated method for revealing characteristics than merely telling readers about the characters personalities. Discuss the impact this approach has in relation to this story. For example:

  • It takes readers on a voyage of discovery as they learn more about the characters.
  • It creates the intrigue and tension in the story by withholding key information such as why Ray invited the main character on the fishing trip and hiding the fact that the main character is an alien until much later in the story.

Inform students that they will be experimenting with using an interaction between characters to reveal elements of each of their personalities.

Provide students with a list of personality types, for example, kind, dominating, fearful, honest, dishonest, optimistic, irritable, emotionless, negative. Select a student to conduct a role-play with you and each pick one of the personality types. The teacher and the student volunteer should tell each other which personality type they have selected without revealing this to the rest of the students.

Conduct a brief role-play where both parties reveal characteristics of the chosen personality type without explicitly stating it. A sample script has been provided below:

Teacher (selecting the dishonest personality type): So, er I haven’t seen those pencils you were asking me for, nope, not anywhere.

Student (selecting the irritable personality type): Oh for goodness sake, I know I left them here.

Teacher: Well I have no idea how they went missing. I mean it’s not like I sold them or anything.

Student: Well this is ridiculous. They were right here. Gosh this is so annoying. Why would you say it’s not like you sold them? Makes you sound like a thief.

Teacher: A thief! Nope, not me.

Discuss students inferences about the characteristics portrayed in the role-play.

Place students in pairs or small groups. Instruct them to each select a personality type before conducting a role-play that reveals each of these characteristics without explicitly stating them. Allow time for students to rehearse their role-plays before pairing them with another group. Instruct students to take turns, performing their role-plays. Tell those students who are not performing to make inferences about the characteristics portrayed in the performances. Discuss responses, focusing on elements that allowed students to correctly infer the characteristics portrayed.