Vesuvius Dan

poem by Jonathan Sellars , illustrated by Greg Holfeld

Learning intention:

I am learning to analyse how texts represent ideas in different ways so that I can create my own text.


Success criteria:

  • I can identify technical vocabulary that links texts.
  • I can explain how an idea can be represented as a metaphor.
  • I can write my own poem using a metaphor.


Essential Knowledge:

  • More information about an author’s comparison of objects to create figurative meaning can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Connotation, Imagery and Symbol.


Before reading the poem, ask students what they know about Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii. Once students have had a chance to discuss their prior knowledge, visit National Geographic’s page on The Lost City of Pompeii and read through the text as a class.


Read the poem Vesuvius Dan or listen to the audio recording. Ask students what links there are between the poem and the article. Encourage them to find vocabulary that connects the texts. Answers: Vesuvius, cloud, blast zones, volcanically loaded, blow, exploded.


As a class, view the English Textual Concepts video Connotation, Imagery and Symbol. Give students time to do a Think, Pair, Share on why the author might choose to use Mt Vesuvius as a metaphor for Dan’s sneezes. Answers might include that sneezes can be very loud, they can rock a person, snot and saliva blasts out like smoke and ash from a volcano.


Explain that students will be writing their own metaphorical poem, where they will compare a different natural disaster to something. Brainstorm natural disasters as a class (e.g., tsunamis, lightning storms, hurricanes, bushfires, earthquakes, avalanches, floods). Have students choose one of these disasters and create a Frayer diagram for their natural disaster, collating a range of terminology to use in their poem.


Once students have gathered enough vocabulary, they should consider what their natural disaster can be compared to. Some examples include:

  • a bushfire consuming all things to a little brother who eats lots and lots
  • a tsunami to an over-enthusiastic student whose exhausting personality knocks everyone down
  • a hurricane to a burp
  • an avalanche to the amount of homework received.


Students write their poem, using vocabulary to link their natural disaster to their chosen event.