The Goat in the Room

story by Tim Lehnert , illustrated by David Legge

Learning Intention:

I am learning to identify idioms as well as broaden my knowledge of their purpose and meanings so that I develop a deeper understanding of their use and apply them in my own writing.


Success Criteria:

  • I can use my own knowledge and understanding of meaning to interpret idioms
  • I can research, choose and record idioms to use in my writing
  • I can compose a scene of the magazine text, incorporating at least two idioms.

Understanding text:

After reading the story, either as a class or in reading groups, watch the video Idioms for Kids and discuss students understanding of idioms and the examples used. Pose statements to the class that incorporate common idioms and ask them to identify the meanings. For example:

  • That test was a piece of cake! (The test was easy)
  • She didn’t come to school because she was feeling under the weather (She felt sick)
  • He couldn’t wait to see his friend and spill the beans (Tell his friend some secrets or information he’s found out)

Ask students to identify the idioms that were used in The Goat in the Room and their meaning, either using explanations from the text or their own understanding. Give the class a few moments to scan the story again before answering. If you have a digital subscription, you can use the drag and drop interactive activity to assist students in matching the idioms to their meanings. They should identify that the idioms used were:

  • I just wanted to see how the other half lives (People who live in different circumstances to your own)
  • When in Rome do as the Romans do (‘That means if you visit somewhere, try to act like the locals and get into the spirit of things’)
  • The elephant in the room (‘It means the big, obvious thing that nobody wants to talk about, or even admit exists’)
  • I think you’ve nailed it (You’ve done this perfectly)
  • I have to give credit where credit is due (I have to praise someone when they deserve it)
  • I think, to be on the safe side, we should get both (Make a careful choice to avoid a negative outcome)

Inform students that their task is to write an extra scene for the story, incorporating an idiom. To do this, they should first research some idioms. You may wish to guide them with a combination of online sources such as 7 Everyday Idioms and Where They Come From and Idioms for Kids, and if available, books from the classroom or library (idioms are located under Dewey Decimal number 423.1).

Students should record five idioms in their book by writing each one and their meaning.


Creating text:

From their five recorded idioms, students should then select at least two, which they will use to write their own short scene for the story. Explain that the scene may be an extra one to fit in with the plot points (e.g. the goat coming into the house, Aidan talking to him, Dad coming in and discovering him in the kitchen) or it may be a continuation of what happens after the goat goes back to his pen.


You may wish to model an example on the board, such as:

I had just pulled my homework book out when the phone rang. “That didn’t take long,” I said to the goat, who must have barely had time to finish his alfalfa and carrot before calling. “Well, I don’t want to make a storm in a teacup, but the chickens are acting a bit weird,” he replied.

That seemed strange, the chickens looked fine just a few minutes earlier when I was out there. I got up from my desk though and walked towards the door. “What’s wrong with them?” I asked. “Your guess is as good as mine,” he said. “But it’s definitely weird, they’re, um, running around and clucking.”

Running around and clucking? That was their normal behaviour. This goat was up to something, I was sure of it. I decided to play along though. “Ok, I’m coming out to check them.”

“Wait!” he bleated. “Seeing as you’re coming out here, could you grab me some dessert on your way through the kitchen?”


Assessment for/as learning:

Divide students into small groups to share their writing and give each other feedback using the two stars and a wish method.