“A Summer Ottava Rima” by James Aitchison with Teacher Notes

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The crash of waves is always in the air,

And caravans adorn the crowded shore.

People roast on towels without a care,

Or find new rocky outcrops to explore.

Crunchy crystal sand grows too hot to bear,

Yet we stay: it’s what all Aussies yearn for!

In summertime, this is our golden place;

Then winter comes and banishes all trace.

                                               James Aitchison


The ottava rima is a very rhythmic form of Italian poetry, first written in the fourteenth century.

Lord Byron and William Butler Yeats also used the form.

The rules:

  1. Each stanza has 8 lines
  2. You can create one stanza as a stand alone 8-line poem, or write multiple stanzas
  3. The first six lines have an a-b-a-b-a-b rhyme scheme, capped with a c-c couplet
  4. Mostly an ottava rima is written in iambic pentameter or 10-syllable lines.

Have fun!


“Mirror Image” by JR Poulter with Teacher Notes

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Mirror Image.

Looking in the mirror,
What do I see?
A very magnificent
Image of me!

Do others see me
Just like that,
Or do they see
A ginger cat?

I wish folk looked
Beyond the fur,
The very gentle
Kitty purr,

And see
The lionheart In me,
The part my human
Always sees!

Beauty and bravery are much more than skin deep!
The poem encourages us not to be too quick to judge others, but to get to know them and appreciate the qualities that make them unique.
The people who love us are generally the ones who see our best qualities and try to help us develop them the more.

Write a list of things that might not look particularly attractive but which have qualities we might really appreciate. Example – cocoa bean which is used to make chocolate.

“Giving” by JR Poulter with Teacher Notes

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Christmas sees the shops decked decorous decorations and advertising urging everyone to spend, spend spend! It has become for many a self-centred and money driven season where oneupmanship is all too evident!
However, in its origin, it is a Christian celebration of God’s gift to mankind, a Saviour who put aside his divinity to become a human like us and ‘save us’ from our worst selves.
The poem draws attention to the plight of those for whom it might not be a happy, let alone a joyous season. For  homeless folk, the Christmas season is made even harder because it  highlights all they DO NOT have.
Activity: [1.] Make a list of the things you have at Christmas that a homeless person might not have.
[2.] Make a list of things that could be done in a practical way to make things better for a homeless person at Christmas.
Christmas is also a bad time for many animals, such as the stray in the poem.
More pets find themselves homeless at this time of year than any other.
Discussion: Why do you think this might be so? What could be done to try and prevent this situation?
Articles by the RSPCA identify summer holidays, our biggest holiday period, as also recording an increase in the number of pets ‘dumped’. 
The old stray in the poem, probably had a home once. 
Activity: Write a short story or poem about  how you think the ‘old stray’ might have become homeless.
OR, draw a comic strip illustrating the story of how the ‘old stray’ became homeless.
Research and Discussion: There are organisations that rescue  cats and dogs and other animals that become strays. Make a list of such organisations in your area. Find out  more about each of them. What do they have in common? How do they go about finding homes for  the animals they rescue? Find at least one story from each organisation that has a ‘happy ending’ for an animal they rescued. Share at least one of those stories with the class.
The poet adopted a rescue cat earlier this year. He is a black cat, aged between one year and 18 months, that was dumped in the bush at Millmeran. Fortunately, a local woman rescued him and he found his way to the animal rescue run by Yeronga Veterinary Clinic. That is where the poet found him and it was love at first site! He is the most companionable kitty and she can’t imagine being without her little furry friend!

“Happy New Year MU69” by Celia Berrell with notes

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On the eighth day of Christmas (1st January), New Horizons (the space probe that took photos of dwarf planet Pluto back in July 2015) will be 6.6 billion kilometres from Earth, travelling at 14 kilometres per second, flying past a rock about 37 kilometres wide called 2014 MU69 (nick-named Ultima Thule) in the solar system’s Kuiper Belt.  If it doesn’t bump into anything on the way, we will receive images from its cameras just over six hours after they are taken.  This is an incredible technological adventure with cosmologically amazing consequences.  What an exciting way to start the New Year!




“Dive into a book” by JR Poulter With Teacher Notes


Diving Into a Book


Summer time is a good time to escape the heat by bathing in the sea or in a swimming pool.

Diving into a good book is a bit like diving into a swimming pool according to the poet.

Activity: Write a short argument for why this might be a good comparison or why not.

Discussion:  How can books –

Immerse us in ‘wondrous lands’

Get us involved in ‘plots and plans’?

Activity: Write a short description of the plot of a story you have just read or are reading and talk about what new ideas, information, or ways of thinking it has shown you. How is it different to other stories you have read? How is it different to your own life and experience?


“A SEASONAL TELESTITCH” by James Aitchison with Teacher Notes

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The end of cold days:

Farewell! Adieu!

The sun rises warm

But expect a quick storm,

Then catch a wave —

It’s my kind of weather!


The sunsets glow red

Across Australia,

We’re all on holiday —

The best of all times!


                                          James Aitchison



TEACHERS’ NOTES by James Aitchison

A telestitch is the opposite of an acrostic.  Discover the poem’s hidden message by reading the last letter (rather than the first) of each line.

Give it a try

And most of all — have fun!







Crowds, rabbles and throngs, clubs, hordes and troupes

Are Collectives for people who gather in Groups

But what do we call friends who are woolly and furry

Barking or whistling, singing or purry?

When they get together with family and friends

What is the word for their special blends?


Let’s start with the alphabet, that means the A

Which letter was first from the Ark would you say?

It wasn’t the whale, the worm or the shark –

But a shy bunch of prickles we call the Aardvark.

If you should meet lots of aardvaarks at once

And call them an Armoury, you’d not be a dunce.


If you’re keen on games and like jokes and japes

You’ll be happy to meet a grouping of Apes

But what will you call them – this family of jokers…

This smart clever band of naughty provokers?

The word is descriptive, it’s perfectly apt

A *Shrewdness of Apes has them all neatly capped.


Now think of the sea, in the depths of the ocean

Where swims a predator in fast or slow motion

He is hunted and eaten, grows more than three meters

Provides tasty meals and feeds plenty of eaters

He’s a high-powered fish and fond of flattery

When found in groups it’s a Barracuda Battery.


Our next group of B is from land, not the sea

And some of his kind live and sleep in a tree

Some like the snow, others the jungle

The name for this lot seems a silly bungle

It’s a **Sleuth or a Sloth when you see many Bears

An affliction of fiction from hundreds of years.


The last of our B’s flies dainty and free

Over the land but seldom the sea

She does beautiful things with colourful wings

She dances o’er flowers as the sweet bird sings

A Flutter of Butterflies is commonly heard

But Kaleidoscope’s often the Collective word.



Jan Darling


Teaching Notes:


Sounds of the Aardvark:  soft grunts as it forages (looks for food like antnests); loud grunts as it approaches its nest entrance and soft bleats if frightened.


What do you call a group of Aardvaarks?


How many ‘As’ are there in Aardvaark?


Sounds of the Ape: sounds like something between a series of dog yaps and UGH!The sound is called a ‘jibber’.


What do you call a group of Apes?


What is the meaning of ‘shrewd’?


*Shrewd means both clever and sharp.   Apes are known to observe you closely, often appearing to deduce what your next move will be.



Sounds of the Barracuda:  Sadly, most fish sounds are inaudible to the human ear.  But if we could hear them, fish-talk would sound like purrs, grunts, hums, clicks and hoots.


What is a group of Barracuda called?

Information not included in the poem: Barracuda can grow up to 100 cm and weigh up to 9 kilos.    They can live 10-15 years because they have few natural predators – only man, sharks and the Orca whale.


Sounds of Bears:  Each Bear family has a different sound, they growl and when angry they roar, Bear cubs make a hoarse bawl when they’re scared, they also make whuffing noises and they moan and grumble.


What is the name for a group of Bears?


What characteristic does this name imply?


**Both Sleuth and Sloth come from Old and Middle English.  Some writers associate the idea of Bears often seeming to look for things with ‘sleuth’ or detective.  Most agree that Sloth comes from Old English Slow-th, meaning slow.  We now know that not all Bears are slow.  In fact you should never run from a bear – he can cover 50 yards in 3 seconds!   And your running will just encourage him.  


Yards: an imperial measure equal to the metric measure of  0.9144.    Discuss Imperial and Metric measures.


What sounds do baby bears make?


Sounds of the Butterfly:  they flutter – an onomatapoeiac word.


Onomatapoeia is a “figure of speech” – it describes a word that itself sounds like the subject it refers to!


What are examples of onomatapoeiac words?

Baa-lamb.  Baa is the sound that the lamb makes.  

Or sizzle – the sound that the steak makes.

Buzz – the sound a bee makes.


What is a group of butterflies called?


Information not included in the poem:  The butterfly has four different stages of growth: the Egg, 100-300 are laid at a time.  The Caterpillar: the egg produces a caterpillar which grows to its final size and then becomes the Pupa (which are usually attached to the underside of a leaf), which finally produces the Butterfly.


All sounds are available online.  Simply Google ‘Sound of the …’ and you will be taken either to a dedicated website or to YouTube.