Will Wonders Never Cease? The Cave of Crystals

article by Zoë Disher , Photo by Wikicommons / Alexander Van Driessche

Learning intentions:

I am learning to use imagery when conveying setting so that I can develop my skills in writing literary texts.

Success criteria:

  • I can use familiar text structures when creating texts.
  • I can convey setting descriptions from other texts in my own words.
  • I can use similes and metaphors to enhance the mood of my text.

Essential knowledge:               


Focus question: How can figurative language and wordplay influence the mood of a text?


Prior to reading the text, ask students if anyone’s been in a cave before. If so, ask what it was like in the cave and what sorts of things are found inside. If not, ask the same questions and have students utilise their knowledge from media such as television and movies to answer the questions.

Read The Cave of Crystals as a class or listen to the audio recording. Ask students what surprised them about the article. Students might not have realised that caves could be filled with water, that caves could have crystals or that caves could get so hot.

Watch National Geographic’s video Deadly Crystal Cave. (Note: It mentions it is 104 degrees inside, which is in Fahrenheit. This is 40 degrees Celsius.) For more information and extra pictures, visit How Stuff Works’ page Mexico’s Giant Crystal Cave is Beautiful but Deadly.

Explain that students will be writing a diary entry as if they are one of the scientists studying the cave after the water’s been pumped out. Have students reread The Cave of Crystals to find setting information that will be important to include, such as the temperature, the size and appearance of the crystals and having to wear ice-filled suits. Students must include imagery to enhance their setting descriptions. To assist their understanding of imagery, students can view the English Textual Concepts video Connotation, Imagery and Symbolism.

As a class, brainstorm some similes and metaphors that students could use in their diary entry. Some examples:

  • It was so humid, the walls wept with condensation (metaphor – or personification)
  • The crystals were as white as snow (simile)
  • We walked through the cityscape of crystals (metaphor)
  • The crystals jutted like spears towards us (simile)


Explain to students that the simile they chose will change the mood of the text. For example, writing that the crystals jut out like spears suggests danger, while writing that the cave is as quiet as a graveyard suggests a creepy atmosphere. Instruct students to choose the mood they’d like to convey in their diary entry then give them a few minutes to brainstorm similes and metaphors that match this mood.


If you have a digital subscription, complete the activity Similes to Match Mood (matching pictures with similes).

Note: Diary writing can be inspired by books such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Jeff Kinney) and Dork Diaries (Rachel Renee Russell).



An assessment rubric for imaginative texts can be found on The School Magazine website. Students can use some of the criteria in this rubric to inform their writing, and it can be used for peer and teacher assessment.