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Ministry of Education.

Learning task 3: Explore the language


Teacher models the writing of an original myth to explain the creation of some natural phenomena. Explore the use of similes/metaphors to create images or word pictures to make text rich and interesting.


 We use similes in our writing to create images or word pictures that make it rich and interesting. In a simile we say that one thing is like something else and this is why similes usually start with like or as, as in these examples:

The sun is like a golden orange in the sky.

He wandered lonely as a cloud

 Exploring Language (p.54), A Handbook for Teachers, Ministry of Education 1996, Learning Media Wellington N.Z.


 A metaphor is a kind of word picture. If you say that something is something else, or speak of it as though it is something else, you are using a metaphor.

 Look at these examples.

Knowledge is a key that opens many doors.

She hit the ball so hard that it rocketed across the net.

 In the first sentence knowledge is a key. In the second sentence the ball is spoken of as though it is a rocket.

 Writers use metaphors to strengthen the meaning of what they are writing about. They are so common in our everyday speech that you probably use these word pictures all the time.

 For example

burning the candle at both ends - getting up early and going to bed late
playing second fiddle - taking a less important role and not being in the limelight
skating on thin ice - taking risks that might be dangerous

 Exploring Language (P 54,55), A Handbook for Teachers, Ministry of Education 1996, Learning Media Wellington N.Z.


Students in groups of three create an explanation (oral or written form) for:

  • how a local land form was created eg. mountain, river, lake
  • why the kiwi lost its ability to fly.

Application of understandings gained through previous guided reading and writing experiences. These are shared with the rest of the class.

Comparison of myths/legends across different cultural settings
eg. travel - air, sea.
 * How did Maui travel ?
 * What resources were available to him ?
 * How did Icarus travel ?
 * What resources were available to him ?
Students tape stories - retelling a favourite myth - develop awareness of structures.

Illustrated wall stories (based on the reading to, with and by approaches) - plot sequences, purpose, audience.

Read a selection of Aboriginal myths/legends (Dreamtime):

The Aboriginal myths about the creation of the world have been an important part of Aboriginal culture for thousands of years. These stories come from a time long, long ago (well before the dawn of time) called the Dreamtime.

One of these is the story of Wanmirri who, with his three brothers, learned how to light the sky at night so no-one need be afraid of the dark. These four young men of the tribe threw their boomerangs into the campfire where they caught alight. Then they hurled their blazing weapons into the sky where they and their four owners have been lighting the night sky ever since. This is how stars were put in the sky. 

Published on: 06 Apr 2009