The Terrible, Terrible Noise

poem by Kevin Christopher Snipes , illustrated by Dante Hookey

Learning Intention:

I am learning about language techniques used in a poem so that I can understand how these help readers connect with the people and events in the poem.


Success Criteria:


  • I can identify the use of rhyme, rhetorical questions, exclamations and stanza structure in a poem
  • I can explain how the techniques help interest readers in the mystery of the poem
  • I can evaluate how effectively the poem connects with readers through language techniques and structures.


Essential knowledge:

You can find the word ‘rhyme’ defined in this glossary created by the Department of Education.  The NSW Department of Education also provides information about teaching phonological awareness on their website.  You can find detailed information about different text types including reviews English A to Z support pages. You will need to scroll down to ‘persuasive texts.’




Before reading the poem, ask students to write down their own definition of the word ‘rhyme.’ If possible, use index cards or small slips of paper. Tell students they are not to show anybody else their definition yet.

Ask students to find a partner and show each other their definition for the word ‘rhyme.’ They then work together to combine their definition and reword it so that it is closer to the real meaning of the word.

Pairs now find a second pair to connect with and form a new group of 4. Once more, students compare and combine the two definitions to refine it. They can write a new, final more polished definition for the word ‘rhyme.’

At this stage, bring the whole class back together and ask each group of 4 to contribute their definition. The cards can be tacked to the board.

If possible, hand each group of 4 a dictionary (if there are different kinds of dictionaries available, it would work well to give each group a different type of dictionary) and ask them to look up the definition for ‘rhyme.’ Use the dictionary definitions to decide which of the definitions on the board created by students is the best – a class vote might be needed.


Now that students have a dictionary definition, it is time to check their understanding by giving each group of 4 a different word from the list below. Set a timer for 2 minutes and ask the groups to list as many words as possible to rhyme with their given word.

  • Rocket
  • Noise
  • Scared
  • Storm
  • Swear
  • Blast
  • Strange



Understanding text:


Project the first two stanzas of the poem onto the board:


Oh, what’s that strange and awful noise?

It sounds like cannons warring!

I’d swear that it’s a thunderstorm

except it isn’t pouring.


Or could it be the engine blast

of rockets that are soaring?

I should go out and check and yet

I’m scared to go exploring.


Ask students to listen to the poem being read aloud and then identify the rhyming words. Ask them if they notice a pattern – and then show them how every second word rhymes. Also point out that in this poem, the rhyme carries over into the second stanza, rather than starting again. This is called a rhyming pattern.


Ask the class to answer the following questions:

  • What effect does the use of rhyme have in this poem? (suggested answer: It helps create a beat or rhythm and it emphasises the words, making them stand out.
  • Aside from rhyme, what other clever things has the poet done to draw readers into the mystery of the strange sound? (suggested answer: The poet uses rhetorical questions to make the reader think about what the sound could be. They also use an exclamation mark to emphasise the sound of cannons. Also, the poem is in first person which helps readers connect with the speaker in the poem.)
  • Can you predict what the sound is, based on the descriptions given in the first 2 stanzas? (you may like to have a guessing competition with a small prize for a student who has the closest answer).


As a class, read the poem from start to finish. This time use page 18 from this issue of Blast Off!

Immediately after reading, before there is any discussion, ask students to write down their immediate reaction when they find out that the sound was the father snoring. Ask them to think about how it made them feel. (for example, some students might think it was very funny, others might feel annoyed that they were tricked).

Discuss the different responses, asking students to elaborate on their thoughts and explain why.


Project the final stanza alone on the board:


‘Cause what if it’s a dinosaur

that’s hollering and roaring?

Oh, wait.

Hold on.

Nope, false alarm.

It’s just my father, snoring


Discuss the following:

  • What do you notice that is different about this stanza compared with the first two? (suggested answer: the third line is divided into three ‘steps’ rather than just together on the same line)
  • Why do you think the poet decided to do this? (suggested answer: this helps add suspense and show that the speaker in the poem is thinking through and slowly realizing they know they sound).
  • Did you guess the sound correctly?
  • What were the clues that the sound would be somebody snoring? (suggested answer: All the words in the poem that rhyme, all rhyme with ‘snoring.’ For example, ‘roaring’, ‘soaring’, ‘warring.’)
  • Do you know what it is called when there is a surprise at the end of a poem or story? (suggested answer: a plot twist).
  • Why do you think the poem decided to trick readers before revealing a plot twist? (suggested answer: The purpose of the poem is to entertain. When a reader can guess the truth when they are given a mystery in a text, it is not as much fun. Surprising the reader adds a sense of fun.)
  • Look back at what you wrote as your personal response immediately after reading the poem. Do you still feel the same way? Have your thoughts on the poem changed? If the illustration, if you had seen this at first, would you have guessed the sound earlier?


Assessment for/as learning:

Ask students to write a review of the poem ‘The Terrible, Terrible Noise.’ In their review, they are to give an opinion of the poem. It is important that in the review, they do not give away the surprise twist at the end.

Reviews should include:

  • A summary of what the poem is about (without telling the ending)
  • Details of the fun and interesting techniques used by the poet (including rhyme, rhetorical questions)
  • The initial, immediate response felt when reading the poem all the way through for the first time
  • Who else might enjoy this poem?
  • Why would students recommend this poem to other people?