Order, Order!


Sequencing activities can be a useful way of generating talk about patterning as well as the meanings of a poem. Both ‘Thief’ and ‘Machine’ are poems which use rhyme. ‘Machine’ is a more straightforward poem to sequence than ‘Thief’ which will require more attention to other elements, such as punctuation.

You might like to start with ‘Machine’ and then repeat the process with ‘Thief’, or you may prefer to move straight to the more challenging poem, depending on your class’s needs.

Group talk, listening and class discussion are central to the success of this learning experience. Encourage children to explain their reasoning and consider alternatives.


  • Download and print copies of ‘Machine’ and ‘Thief’ Sequencing sheets, one per group of three. The sheets will need to be cut into strips.
  • Copies of Moon Juice, at least one per pair.
  • Prepare to read ‘Machine’ and ‘Thief’ aloud, modelling good expression and fluency. We recommend annotating a teacher copy of the poem to support the read-aloud.


Organise the class into groups of three and distribute copies of ‘Machine’ Sequencing.

Explain that the poem has been mixed up and you would like the groups to work collaboratively to reassemble the poem in the order that they think is the same as the original.

As the groups work to assemble the poem, they should make a note of the clues they are using.


  • What knowledge about poetry can you use to help? 
  • Is it helpful to think about any of the following:
    • rhythm
    • rhyme
    • punctuation
    • meaning

It may be beneficial to remind the children or establish ground rules for successful group work, for example. display the ground rules on the board as a reminder.

  • We will look at the person who is talking.
  • One person should talk at a time.
  • We will try to reach a shared agreement. 
  • We will take turns to talk. 
  • We will ask for reasons. 
  • Everyone should be encouraged to speak. 

Observe to see how the children approach the task. Avoid too much intervention, but if the groups are struggling, you could give clues, such as telling them that there are three verses or giving the first line of every verse. 

Once the groups have decided on the order, each group should visit another group and examine the order they have chosen. 

  • Have they organised it differently?
  • Which do you prefer and why?

Finally, copies of the book should be distributed, and the children should be allowed to find the original poem and compare it to their version. 

Gather the class to reflect:

  • What did you find challenging?
  • What did you learn about how this poem works?
  • Did you listen well to other people’s ideas?
  • Did you feel that your ideas were listened to? Could we improve?

Read the poem aloud to the class while they follow in their books, modelling good expression and fluency.

In pairs, children can reread the poem to each other, taking turns reading and listening to it.

This process can then be repeated with the poem, ‘Thief,’ which is more challenging. This could be left for another session if preferred. 

Final reflection

Draw attention to the elements which helped the children with the order of the poem. Take a verse from Machine and mix up the lines:

My machine, my machine, meet my fine new machine:

that can function as friend, fridge, page, pet and latrine.

Now I hear it’s the first with this all-improved screen

note its clever design, see its marvellous sheen. 


  • Does the poem still make sense? (This is a subjective question, but it could be said that changing the order doesn’t affect the meaning here.)
  • Why did the poet choose to order these lines differently? (This is a question which requires the children to consider the author’s intention.)