The Outlaw

poem by Beverly McLoughland , illustrated by Matt Ottley

Learning intention

I am learning to understand and experiment with personification in poems so that I can include figurative language in texts I construct.

Success criteria

  • I can identify examples of personification in a poem.
  • I can discuss changes that occur during spring.
  • I can discuss examples of personification to express my ideas.
  • I can incorporate personification into a poem.


Essential knowledge

Ensure students understand that personification means attributing human characteristics to inanimate objects. View examples of personification using the Glossary from NESA.


Read The Outlaw. Discuss descriptions of the autumn wind, ensuring students note that it is a described as:

  • an outlaw and a thief
  • riding into town to rustle every leaf
  • unable to be caught
  • fearless and daring
  • that it won’t stop until he has plundered the whole stash of gold.


Discuss the following questions:

  • Which type of figurative language has been used? (personification)
  • What impression does the figurative language evoke? (It creates the impression of the autumn wind being like a thief that steals away the leaves)
  • Why might the poet have chosen to express ideas using figurative language? (To emphasise the point, to provide a unique way of looking at the autumn wind)

Inform students that they will be composing their own poem featuring personification. View an images of spring from sites such as Kids Britannica. Discuss the changes that occur in spring. Sample responses include:

  • leaves appear on the trees
  • days become longer
  • buds sprout on flowers
  • migrating birds begin return
  • many animals are born.

Discuss how spring might be compared to a person. Note ideas on the board for students to refer to later. Under each idea add further examples of how spring might behave if acting in the way identified. Possible ideas include:

  • a caring person gently waking up the plants and trees, who might stroke the plants and cause them to blossom and sing songs to the flowers to make them bloom
  • spring being an excited child that blasts winter away, who might chase away winter in a game of tag, pull the flowers from the branches and throw a party for the returning birds
  • spring being a fairy that sprinkles magic dust on the plants and animals to make them bloom, who might sprinkle magic dust on the animals to encourage them to give birth
  • spring being a witch that banishes winter, who uses a cauldron and creates a spell, forcing winter to move to another hemisphere.

Select one of these ideas, for example spring being a caring parent. Discuss how the examples of personification that relate to this idea might be incorporated into a poem. Tell students that the poem does not need to rhyme, the goal here is to include personification. Collaboratively compose a poem, featuring these ideas. For example:

Spring is like a parent,

Who gently wakes the plants

They coax little buds to bloom

and soothes the baby lambs.

Place students with a partner and instruct them to compose their own poem about spring, featuring personification. Remind students to use the list of examples of personification compiled collaboratively in their poem.