The Flying Lesson

poem by Bill Condon , Illustrated by David Legge

Learning intention:

I am learning to make connections between the experiences of characters in a text and my own so that I can write about it with understanding.


Success criteria:

  • I can identify reasons that the bird in the text faced challenges in learning to fly
  • I can make connections between the experience of the character in the text and the experiences of others in real life, including my own
  • I can write a poem that follows the theme and structure of the text


 Essential knowledge:

More information about identifying the theme of a text can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Theme.


Read the poem as a class and discuss the difficulties the baby blackbird faced in learning to fly. Answers may include:

  • Everyone was giving it different advice
  • Its wings wouldn’t flap
  • It couldn’t find a cloud
  • It was unable to glide
  • It crashed to the ground

View the video Condor Teaches Youngster to Fly and discuss why it is important for birds to fly (e.g. being able to find food, find their flock and migrate). Ask students if they can identify the theme of the poem by thinking about what message it can teach us (some things can be difficult to do, but it is important to persevere).

Ask students if they can relate to the difficulties the birds in the poem and the video faced by thinking of an important skill they needed to learn, but found challenging. Ask them to explain the challenges they faced and why it was important for them to learn that skill. Some suggestions may include learning to swim (safety), learning to read (education) or learning to ride a bike (travel and exercise).

Ask students to think of important skills other animals need to learn and write their suggestions on the board. The videos Baby Otter Cubs Learn to Swim and Baby animals find their footing can be viewed for visual inspiration.

Instruct students that they are to write a poem about an animal or person facing the challenges of learning a new skill, as the baby blackbird did in the text. Their poems should have a minimum of two stanzas and follow the same rhyme scheme as the text (A, B, C, B).


Model an example of a stanza on the board, such as a foal learning to gallop:

I try my best to gallop

For my hooves to go clip-clop

But as I kick them up beneath me

They just do a little hop


Poems can be published with an illustration and displayed in the classroom.