Poetry and the Animals
This activity invites students to explore how experiences can be written from different perspectives. Poetry techniques are also utilised, with students comparing different texts and creating their own.
It is assumed that students have read the text prior to this activity.
Download the accompanying PowerPoint presentation for this Lesson Set here.
Key Inquiry Questions
- How can the structure, language and imagery of poetry relate to the audience the different lives of animals?
- How easy is it to imagine life from an animal’s point of view? Is it useful for us to do so? Will imagining life from their perspective help us to protect them?
1. PRE-TEST (Ask)
Lead a discussion on animals in zoos and other forms of captivity. How are zoos portrayed in children's books or films? What have been their personal experiences of visiting zoos?
2. EXPLORE (Investigate/Create)
Instruct students to read the poems referred to in the text. This can be done as a class, or as individuals.
Ask students to consider the following for each poem:
- What is the poem about?
- What form/structure does it have?
- What language techniques are used? (e.g. rhyme, alliteration, metaphors, symbols etc.)
- What does it say about keeping animals in captivity?
- What other meaning could it have?
3. DISCUSS (Discuss)
Collate and clarify responses on a whiteboard or in a shared document.
Costello comments that this is “poetry that does not try to find an idea in the animal, that is not about the animal, but is instead the record of an engagement with him”.
Discuss with students whether this is different to the idea that the poems are from the animal's perspective.
4. SHARE (Discuss)
In pairs, ask students to share their ideas on how poems can be used to understand the situation faced by animals, in this case being in captivity. How does what these poems portray relate to their understanding and experiences of zoos?
Some sources that could be used to guide students:
- 5 things we need to stop telling ourselves about animals in zoos
- Captive Animals
- Marine animals in captivity
- Animals for entertainment
5. REFLECT (Reflect)
Ask students to write their own poems about their daily life, but from the perspective of an animal. Appropriate text structures and language should be utilised.
For students who require more detail, have students work through the following:
- Write in dot points key events that happen in their day (e.g. wake up, have breakfast, get dressed, go to school etc.)
- Select an animal. If required, guide to a species they know something about or one that is commonly kept in zoos.
- Consider the different events in their day, relate these to how the animal would experience the day (e.g. what would an elephant have for breakfast, how would a lion feel when they wake up).
- Write a poem from the point of view of the animal, but describing a day.
6. TAKING IT FURTHER
Ask students to turn their poem into a short video. Images and sound should be considered in relation to the theme of their poem.
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