When Winds Blow Strong

poem by Stephen Whiteside , illustrated by Cheryl Orsini


Learning intention:

I am learning to combine different elements into my illustrations so that I can show conflicting ideas through visual art.

Success criteria:

  • I can identify ways the illustrator shows conflicting ideas in one picture
  • I can write a poem using my own ideas that is based on the style of the author
  • I can create a visual representation of the conflicting ideas in my poem

Without yet showing the poem to the class, read it aloud to them, omitting the words:

  • I’m outside in the first stanza
  • I’m in bed in the second stanza

Let students know that you have left out some words, and indicate where you have done this. Have students give suggestions of what they think the words may have been that were omitted, asking them to justify their ideas.

Read the poem again, this time including all the words. Discuss the way the author uses the two stanzas to express their conflicting feelings about strong winds, depending on whether they’re outside or tucked up in bed.

Ask students for their suggestions about how these ideas could be captured in one illustration. Discuss aspects such as:

  • What the colour palette should be
  • How the movement of the wind can be shown
  • How the two settings (outside and in bed) can be brought together
  • Where the narrator may be in the picture and how they could show their feelings

Hand out magazine copies to the students so they can view the poem and illustration. Ask for student’s opinions about the way the illustrator has captured the mood and ideas of the poem, based on the aspects you discussed. Responses may include:

  • The use of warm, autumn colours suits the mood and theme of the poem
  • The swirling lines and positioning of the leaves show the movement of the wind
  • The style of the girl’s hair shows that the wind is blowing it
  • The expression on the girl’s face shows us that she is happy in bed

If you have a digital subscription, you can find this as an interactive below or linked to the digital copy of When Winds Blow Strong.

Using the text as an example, students should write their own poem about how weather affects them differently depending on their location or situation. Discuss different types of weather and how this makes them feel in different places. Some helpful suggestions may be:

Humidity – When they are in the classroom it makes them feel tired and they find it difficult to concentrate, but when they are at the beach they feel energetic and ready to play and swim.

Snow – Walking through it can be difficult and frustrating, but playing in it can be hours of fun.

Model a way to show these conflicting ideas in poetry. For example:

When I need to walk straight through the snow

The slushiness makes me very slow


When I get to play games in the snow

I roll up snowballs that I can throw


Once they have written their poem, students should create an illustration that displays the opposing feelings expressed in their poem. Remind them to consider their colours, the placement of their main image and the surrounding elements that frame it.