The Rock Pool

poem by Peter Skrzynecki , illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Focus question: How does descriptive language contribute to our understanding of textual themes?


Learning Intention:

I am learning about the way that poets use figurative language devices to convey a theme or message so that I can use figurative language in my own poetry.


Success Criteria:

  • I can discuss the theme or message conveyed in a poem
  • I can connect with the subject matter of a poem
  • I can identify and explain key language devices used in a model text
  • I can create my own stanza using description language and figurative language


Essential knowledge:

The NSW Department of Education has provided an extensive set of activities about similes and metaphors, which is available as a PDF on the website. The slides provided in the Week 4 Learning Pack: What is a metaphor? are a useful revision tool.

An introductory lesson for teaching personification can be found on the NSW Department of Education website. The personification matchup worksheets are a good revision skill.


Oral language and communication:


Prior to reading the poem engage students in a class discussion. Use the following questions:

  • What is a rock pool? Where do you find them?
  • Have you ever seen a rock pool in real life? If yes, what did you think?
  • What is found in a rock pool?
  • We are going to read a poem about a rock pool, can you predict what the poem might include?
  • Before reading the poem, why do you think the poet might have chosen to write about a rock pool? (What makes rock pools a good subject/topic for a poem?)


Read the poem as a class, or if you have a digital subscription, listen to the recording.

After reading the poem, discuss whether the class had made any correct predictions about the poem prior to reading. Talk about why these predictions had been accurate.

Ask students to think about the theme or message of the poem – what is the poem trying to tell the readers (aside from describing the rock pool)? (This poem is about the wonder of nature and how the life in the rock pool is so vibrant it feels magical. It is about how children in particular are able to enjoy natural wonders like rock pools and treasure the things they find and see in them)


Understanding text:

Students answer the following questions:

  • How does the poem draw readers into the world of the rock pool? (The use of direct address [eg. does a somersault over your head’ and ‘reaches up to your face’] places the reader in the rock pool.)
  • Underline the examples of direct address in the poem.
  • Identify and circle the metaphor that is used twice in the poem to describe the rock pool. (The rock pool is a magic circle).
  • What does this metaphor tell readers about how the poet feels about rock pools? (the poet thinks there is something magical and special about rock pools)
  • How does the metaphor help to support the theme or message the poet is sending about rock pools? (The metaphor is used twice to emphasise the magical nature of the rock pool. When comparing the rock pool to magic, it highlights how special and unique a rock pool is, and how children can find joy in the natural world.)
  • Locate and highlight an example of personification in the poem. (‘Seagrass weaves in slow, soft dances— reaches up to your face and hands.’)
  • Why does the poet give the seagrass human characteristics and behaviours? (The use of personification brings the poem to life, it draws the reader into the world of the rock pool and makes the seagrass seem more active and alive. The suggestion that the seagrass is dancing helps the reader to imagine the way that the seagrass moves with the movement of the water around it.)
  • Another metaphor is used in the final stanza. Find and underline it. (‘full of treasures from a sea king’s cave – thrown up for the delight of children…’)
  • How does this final metaphor show that rock pools are valuable natural features in the world? (The poet compares the different creatures plants and non-living items found in the rockpool, with treasure from a mythical sea king’s cave. The word ‘treasures’ to describe the contents of the rock pool shows that the poet thinks that the natural features in the rock pool are important and valuable for children in particular.)


Creating text:

Using the format of the first and final stanzas of the poem ‘The Rock Pool,’ compose your own stanza showing the magical features of rock pools and the world under water.

Follow the structure below:


The rock pool

Is a magic circle

Full of…


Assessment for/as learning:


Students complete an exit ticket using the following prompt:

  • My favourite figurative language device is ________________. I like reading or using this technique because_____________________________________________________________________.