The Mail Tin

poem by Monty Edwards , Illustrated by Matt Ottley

Learning intention

I am learning to use imagery to create mood so that I can compose vivid descriptions.

Success criteria

  • I can identify imagery in a poem.
  • I can discuss how imagery impacts mood.
  • I can compose examples of imagery to express a mood.
  • I can include imagery in a poem.


Essential knowledge

Discuss the term imagery, ensuring students identify that it is a way of using language to engage the senses of the reader. Discuss the term mood in relation to texts, informing students of the following:

  • The mood of a text refers to the feeling a text evokes in readers.
  • It may be evident through the setting, tone or theme of a text.


Focus question.

How does imagery influence the mood of a text?


Display the following extracts. For each example discuss the mood evoked:

Extract 1:

The wind whipped at the windows, rattling the panes of glass. A gust blew through the home and extinguished the fire in the grate. The house descended into darkness.

Extract 2:

Soft, fluffy clouds danced across the sky. The sun beat down, bathing the brightly coloured flowers in a soft glow. The smell of lavender floated from the garden.

Discuss the following questions in relation to the extracts:

  • What examples of imagery are used in each extract? (For example, from extract 1, the wind whipped at the windows, and from extract 2, soft, fluffy clouds danced across the sky)
  • What feeling is created by the descriptions? (Extract 1, scary, eerie, creepy, extract 2, cheerful, calm, reflective)
  • What mood does each piece convey? (Extract 1, fear, horror, extract 2, calmness, tranquility)

Discuss the purpose of imagery, ensuring students note that often imagery is used to convey a specific mood.

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Listen to the audio recording of The Mail Tin or read it aloud to students without allowing them to view the accompanying image just yet. Instruct students to sketch what they interpret the setting to look like, based on the description in the poem. You may need to read the poem to students more than once. If students find drawing challenging, inform them they can label their sketches, so it is clear what the images depict. After students have created their sketches, instruct them to share them with the students nearest to them. Discuss examples, drawing attention to features such as:

  • The setting, including the house and what is surrounding it, the weather, the sunshine
  • Whether other elements have been included, such as trees and birds or whether it has been kept quite simple.

Discuss examples of imagery in the poem that allowed students to decide how to compose their sketches, for example:

Way out west, where willows weep

By creek beds cracked and dry

The homestead sits behind a hill

The mail tin far from view

View the illustration that accompanies The Mail Tin and reflect on similarities between the image and the students’ sketches.

Discuss the mood of the poem, by posing the following questions:

  • Does the pace feel fast or slow? (Slow)
  • What feelings does the poem evoke? (For example, calmness, isolation)
  • What is the mood of the poem? (This is subjective, some students may feel it is reflective, calm and peaceful while others might conclude it feels isolated and lonely)
  • What language allows us to identify the feelings evoked? (Way out west, cloudless sky, behind a hill, mail tin far from view, rising dust)
  • How does imagery influence the mood of a text? (It helps create a feeling of calm isolation with descriptions of the setting, the heat and off the dusty earth)

Reflect on how the countryside is the perfect place for a calm, reflective mood.

Inform students that they will be composing their own examples of imagery to convey a specific mood. Discuss types of mood, for example:

  • Excitement
  • Joy
  • Fear

Select one of these moods to use for a worked example with the students before they move on to working in pairs or small groups. Use the mood excitement. Instruct students to sketch a setting that depicts this mood. Students may label their sketches if they are not confident with their drawing capabilities. Students may depict ideas such as a party or a busy, lively place, crowded with lots of people.

Share responses and identify elements in the drawings, for example a playground or a birthday party. Construct examples of imagery to describe the elements in the illustrations, such as:

Children dot the climbing frame, hollering out to friends, running playing chase, icy poles drip along sticky hands.

The balloons bob, the cake stands proud, children present gifts, sweet watermelon sits on plates.

Compose a brief poem, that features the examples of imagery. Inform students that it is not necessary to make the poem rhyme, the goal here is to include vivid imagery. A sample response is:

The playground is packed,

Children chase and play,

Running wild and free.

A cluster of children clamber up,

A red climbing frame,

They holler to friends,

To come and join.

Lemon icy poles drip,

Down sticky hands,

The sun is shining bright.

Place students with a partner and instruct them to complete the following:

  • Select a mood they wish to convey
  • Sketch a setting to depict the mood
  • Compose examples of imagery based on the elements in the setting
  • Include the examples of imagery in a brief poem.



Provide the students with the following exit slip question and instruct them to note their responses in their workbooks:

  • How does imagery influence the mood of a text?