The Perfect Car

play by Bill Condon , illustrated by Michel Streich

Learning intention:

I am learning to engage an audience and build persuasive skills so that I can further develop my confidence in presenting my ideas and arguments in a public speaking setting.


Success criteria:

  • I can identify persuasive techniques used by a character in the text
  • I can come up with my own ideas to persuade an audience
  • I can present my ideas to an audience and discuss the presentation of others.


Essential criteria:

For information on using persuasive techniques to convince an audience, watch The School Magazine’s video for the English Textual Concept of ‘Argument’. The rubric in our resource section for Comprehending and Creating Persuasive Texts may also be used to help guide students through their task.


Pair up students and have them read through the play together, each taking on one of the roles. After everyone has finished reading, bring the class back together and hold a brief discussion about the play, guiding students with questions such as:

  • What is ironic about Honest Al’s name? (Ensure students understand that something is ironic when it is the opposite of its literal meaning)
  • Were you surprised by the plot twist at the end of the play? Why / why not? (Ensure students understand that a plot twist is when a story has a surprising change leading to an unexpected outcome)
  • What kinds of things did Honest Al say to convince his grandmother to buy a bus? (e.g. He has a scientific formula to find the ideal car for her, the car she wanted would be useless if she were attacked by a herd of elephants, it’s safe and reliable and she’ll always be able to find a seat)
  • How did Honest Al get his grandmother to spend more money? (By signing her up for bus driving lessons and a chauffeur)

Inform students that they are going to take on the role of salespeople and try to convince an audience to purchase their product. The product itself should be something basic from within the classroom (e.g., a pencil, a stapler, a whiteboard marker).

Put students into groups of three and allocate one item per group, but explain it is going to be a competitive, not collaborative, task. Each student must come up with their own thirty-second sales pitch to convince the rest of the class to buy that particular product from them, rather than the other students in their group.

They can (and should) be as ridiculous and fanciful as possible with their claims (e.g., ‘Should you ever need to quickly escape from a stampede of zebras charging across a bridge, this pencil case has a compartment for a parachute that activates with one pull of the zipper’).

Allow students time to brainstorm and plan their sales pitch, using the following questions as guidance:

  • Why should we trust you as a salesperson?
  • What makes you an expert on this product?
  • Why is your product so much better than the others?

When everyone has their sales pitches ready, each group should have a turn of ‘performing’ their sales pitches to the class about their product. Facilitate peer feedback by discussing each students’ strengths and offering a suggestion on what they could improve on.

Hold a secret ballot by having each student write a list of all the items chosen on a scrap piece of paper, then vote for which person they would buy that group’s product from. Count the votes at the and announce the most persuasive salespeople to the class.

Assessment for/as learning:

To assist in the construction of their persuasive text (sales pitch) you may like to direct children to use the Stage 2 Comprehending and Creating Persuasive Text Rubric. This rubric can be used to analyse the effectiveness of the play as a persuasive text as well as a scaffold to compose their own persuasive text.