The Way to Be

poem by Jenny Erlanger , illustrated by Amy Golbach

Learning intention: 

I am learning to empathise with and relate to the viewpoint of a narrator so that I can better understand myself and others. 


Success criteria: 

  • I can identify and discuss the way that narrative style affects the reader. 
  • I can summarise the author’s message in a text and consider how it relates to my own feelings and experiences. 
  • I can create a set of instructions in a chosen format to communicate my own message. 


After reading the poem, discuss the narrative style the author has written in (second person) and how this affects the audience (it is though they are being addressed directly and given advice or instructions). Ask students why the narrator may be giving this advice (e.g., they may have experienced anxiety and have found the methods in the poem helpful) and to summarise what they are suggesting.  

Sample answer: 

They’re saying that if you lie down on the grass and stare at the clouds in the sky you can focus on the way it feels and sounds out in nature and clear your mind, which will help you feel calmer. 


Watch the video Brain Basics: Anxiety for Kids. Ask students to think about what helps them to feel calmer when they are feeling overwhelmed or anxious. Have them close their eyes and think about how their body reacts to stress (e.g., feeling tight in the chest, legs shake, shoulders tense) and how they can help ease their anxiety both physically and mentally. Have willing students share their thoughts with the class, particularly about helpful strategies, explaining that their suggestions may help someone else (e.g., they may have found that listening to their favourite song or playing with their pet helps to calm their mind). 

Refer back to the text and point out that the author has written it in such a way that not only is it poetic, but it also gives a set of instructions in order and has an accompanying illustration to demonstrate. Reread the following lines to highlight this point: 

  • Find a comfy place to lie beside your favourite tree 
  • Cast your eyes up to the sky 
  • Watch the clouds that slowly drift 
  • Pay no heed to thought balloons, release them one by one 
  • Fill your head instead with tunes awakened by the sun (ensure students understand that this is referring to the singing of birds in the context of this poem) 
  • Feel the breeze caress the skin, dance lightly on your face 
  • Close your eyes and bask within this moment’s soft embrace 
  • Give your mind the space to rest, it’s time to simply be 


Ask students to choose a preferred method of calming and think about how they would best communicate this. This may be through a poem, a set of point form instructions or a diagram. Remind students to use second person language, as is used in the text. For example: 

Sit down and put your earphones in 

Look out the window, let’s begin 

Go and select your favourite tune 

As you stare out at the stars and moon 

Listen to the words and beat 

And if you want to, move your feet 

Feel the rhythm and sing a long 

Absorb the feeling of the song 

Let it relax your worried mind 

And help your anxious thoughts unwind 

Drift away with the melody 

Take your woes and set them free