Will Wonders Never Cease: Bird Dropping Spiders

article by Zoe Disher , photo by Alamy

Learning Intention: 

I am using noun groups in my description of a character so that I can develop rich characterisation in my writing. 

Success Criteria: 

  • I can explain what a noun group is. 
  • I can experiment with constructing noun groups using a range of adjectives, adverbs and adjectival phrases and clauses.  
  • I can use a range of noun groups to provide information about the insects listed in the article in a piece of creative writing.  

Essential knowledge: 

  • More information about creating a fictional persona can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Character 

Revise the concept of a noun group: a group of words relating to or building upon a noun. Remind students that noun groups should not be seen as a string of individual words, but rather are a chunk of information. See the NSW Government’s guidance on Noun Groups for more information. 

Read through the article and identify the insects (or characters) that appear. These include the main characters: the bird-dropping spider and the moth, and secondary characters: wasps and birds. Extract the information provided about the bird-dropping spider (it is brown and white, it sits on a leaf, at night they release pheromones, they live in southern Australia). Then, using the interactive website TelescopicText.org, model how to construct expanded noun groups about the bird-dropping spider. For example: 

  • The blob 
  • The brown and white blob 
  • The secretive and camouflaged blob 
  • The secretive and camouflaged blob, which releases pheromones 

Students then independently create a variety of noun groups about the three other characters from the text. You may wish to provide images as visual support of moths, birds and wasps found in southern Australia to help students form noun groups.  

Finally, once students have a range of noun groups for each character, ask them to write a day’s recount, from the perspective of a bird-dropping spider. It should contain the key events outlined in the article (hiding from wasps and bees during the day and releasing pheromones and trapping male moths at night). Students should use a range of noun groups for each character, to enhance their characterisation.