5 Our Day at the Beach

Melissa Meyer

Working with a 6 year old child who was in Year 1, I was guided by the Australian Curriculum English Year 1 content descriptors.


Literacy (creating texts):

  • ACELY1661- Create short imaginative and informative texts that show emerging use of appropriate text structure, sentence-level grammar, word choice, spelling, punctuation and appropriate multimodal elements, for example, illustrations and diagrams
    • Learning how to plan spoken and written communications so that listeners and readers might follow the sequence of ideas and events.

Literature Strand – creating literature

  • ACELT1586- Recreate texts imaginatively using drawing, writing, performance and digital forms of communication.
    • Retelling key events in stories using oral language, arts, digital technologies and performance media.

Language Strand – text structure and organisation

  • ACELA1449 – Recognise that different types of punctuation, including full stops, question marks and exclamation marks, signal sentences that make statements, ask question, express emotion or give commands ()
    • Using intonation and pauses in response to punctuation when reading.

These content descriptors tie in with what I had hoped to achieve from constructing a multimodal text: planning the text in a logical sequence, using drawings to support the story and the use of punctuation when telling the story. The student knew full stops, question and exclamation marks and what they mean and I let her decide where to use each within the story.

Our Day at the Beach

We looked at the Year 1 Level Description for English (ACARA, n.d.-a) and discussed what we could create. As we had just been to the beach, the student chose a recount of the trip.

Year 1 English cotnent descriptions from ACARD(Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA, n.d.-a), licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.

Child at beach buried in sandInitially, we watched two audio recordings of the books My Day at the Beach. A Social Story for Young Children (Beechbrookkids, n.d.) and Day at the beach (Booth, 2018) to see other books with similar themes. Dorfman and Cappelli (2017) noted that mentor texts are a great way to show students how to write well and provide examples for students of what they can aspire to achieve, with their own writing. I chose mentor texts that had a similar theme to what we were constructing, but they are different styles of writing. We chose to follow My Day at the Beach for our recount as it is factual.


We started the process using a storyboard template (StoryBoardThat, n.d.). The Victoria State Government Department of Education and Training (2022a) recognise three components of creating a multimodal text; Pre-production, production and post-production, and recommend creating a story outline of the who, what, where and when and to use a storyboard to plot the visual component. Reading Rockets (n.d.) note the use of story maps, to organise the ideas of the story and improve the students’ comprehension. This also aligns to the elaboration chosen for the creation of the multimodal text; “learning how to plan spoken and written communications so that listeners and readers might follow the sequence of ideas or events” (ACARA, n.d.-a).

Photos of a handdrawn storyboard

During the storyboard work, questioning was used to draw the information from the student. The Victoria State Government Department of Education and Training (2022b) recognise questioning as a high impact teaching (HIT) strategy and it was used in this context as a way to expand the ideas of the student on what happened on our day at the beach. Fellowes and Oakley (2019) recognise the work of Freebody and Luke (1992) and the text participant component of learning to read and write. By asking questions about what happened the day we went to the beach, connections were made between the story we were planning and the real life experience of going to the beach.

During the storyboard creation, explicit teaching was used for the first two sections so that the student understood the purpose of the storyboard and could see the level of detail that goes into it. The Victoria State Government Department of Education and Training (2022b) note explicit teaching as another of the HIT strategies. Fellowes and Oakley (2019) identify modelled writing as one of the four teaching strategies to develop children’s competency in writing. As the student was in Year 1, she understood how to write, but had not used a storyboard before.

Use drawings instead of pictures, so the story is personalised, making connections to prior experience:- The detail in the drawing (driving to the beach, we pass Dreamworld).
– Representing the drive home, and that she fell asleep in the car.
– Connections to the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) Learning Outcome 5 (Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations [DEEWR], 2009) – children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media.

Five pictures of child drawing, drawing of car and dreamworld and photos of child playing at the beach
Use drawings instead of pictures


When deciding what images to include for the multimodal text, I considered the use of photos, images from the internet, or the option of drawing pictures. I made the decision to ask the student to draw the images so I could see how she would visually connect what we had talked about, when completing the storyboard. I asked the student to reflect on the day we went to the beach, and step me through the entire day, rather than talking only about being at the beach.

The Early Years Learning Framework (DEEWR, 2009) Learning Outcome 5 discusses children making meaning using a range of media, including drawing. The Early Years Learning Framework (DEEWR, 2009) also states that educators can promote learning by providing resources that children can use, to experiment with images. By providing pictures from previous trips to the beach, the student was able to use these to complete the drawings for the multimodal text.

Fellowes and Oakley (2019) discussed the emergent perspective on literacy learning and how the early drawings done by children are a starting point in literacy learning. We decided to only use written words and images in our book and the child author (aged 6) read the story but did not choose to include other semiotic systems such as gestures or sounds.

Use of Information Communication Technology (ICT)

Child typing at computer


  • For listening/watching the audio mentor texts
  • For adding the words to our multimodal text
  • For recording the student reading the book

The Literature strand of the curriculum that we are using during the construction of the multimodal text included the use of ICT as a General Capability (ACARA, n.d.-a). The ICT capability learning continuum states that by the end of Year 2, students should be able to use ICT as a tool to generate solutions or modifications for particular audiences (ACARA, n.d.-b). In one of the drawings the student completed, she had listed the items needed to go to the beach. As her writing could have been clearer, we decided to use ICT to type the text, then redraw the pictures. ICT was also used to put the multimodal text together in a slideshow, with the student reading the story in conjunction with the slideshow.

Multiliteracies involving listening, viewing, writing and creating were all demonstrated, framed by the Language Experience Approach to learning.

Writing Conference

Fellowes and Oakley (2019) discuss the use of writing conferences as a tool to improve the quality of work produced. As mentioned, one of the drawings (the list of what to bring to the beach) was hard to read. To improve the multimodal text, we made the decision to type the words from the list, add the drawings to the printed copy, then scan the completed page back to add to the PowerPoint. As part of the writing conference, it was decided that colour added to the pictures would make the multimodal text more appealing to the readers.

After the content of the multimodal text had been completed and we had completed our writing conference to determine how we could make it better, we looked back at My Day at the Beach to see what we were missing. From here, the student noticed we needed a cover for the book. We then looked at other books that we have in the house, and noticed they all show the author and/or illustrator. We also used other picture books to see for any other information we could add to the multimodal text and the student requested we use page numbers so that if our book was printed, the reader would know what order the pages should go in, we looked at different books and how the pages are numbered and my student decided a beach theme would be suitable.


six photos of child writing, working at the computer, reading and drawing
Writing conference: After completing the drawings for our multimodal text, we reviewed the images and decided how we could improve our work. This included colouring in, refining the drawings and using ICT to produce part of the image rather than writing.



Reviewing the content descriptors and elaborations chosen at the beginning of the activity, I believe my student demonstrated some knowledge in all areas. She was able to :

  • Create a short informative text
  • Learn how to plan for the reader (storyboard)
  • Use different punctuation during her story
  • Use drawing and writing to retell key events in her story

The next steps of teaching that I would take would be to concentrate on finessing the story. Discussing simple and compound sentences and discussing the potential for noun groups to be added may make the story more interesting. If we were to concentrate further on the delivery of the audio component, I would work more on the intonation to match the punctuation used.

In summary

Different teaching strategies were used during the co-construction of the multimodal text, depending on what was required of the student, for example, questioning when I needed to ‘tease’ more information out of the student and explicit teaching when it came to a new concept (storyboards).

The Language Experience Approach (LEA) as described by Fellowes and Oakley (2019) was also used in constructing the text by looking at mentor texts, discussing our day and planning out the storyboard, completing the drawings then adding the words. The final component, reading back was completed in the writing conference where we made improvements to the book.

The emergent theory most closely aligns with the learning experience with my student. We worked with what she already knew and was comfortable with and added a few new elements (using a storyboard, using the computer to type rather than write and writing a book) rather than trying to do too much in a short space of time.

The semiotic systems of written and spoken language, gestures, images and sounds (Fellowes & Oakley, 2019) were discussed with my student and it was decided we would concentrate on written and images in her book. Although I recorded her reading the book, this was not a major part of the creation; it was more about getting the outline of the day in the correct order and using images to enhance the story for the reader.

The aim of the Australian Curriculum: English is to ensure learners experience the multiliteracies of listening, speaking, reading, viewing, writing and creating. In the creation of this multimodal text we have used all of the literacies, but concentrated on writing and creating in the final product.


What worked well?

Retelling a recent story allowed the student to reflect on the activities from the day at the beach, with it still being fresh in her mind. I think if we had tried to retell a story from too long ago, the memories may not have been so clear. The use of the storyboard reflecting on a different component of the day meant we could work on the complete book in smaller chunks. While the book is not particularly large, for a six year old, it was a lot of work to complete. We used the storyboard as a way to brainstorm the main parts of the day that should be in the book, and work on our ideas from there.

What would I avoid?

Keep the book simple. Don’t try to fit too much into the book or it is hard to motivate the student to keep going. I also tried to avoid attempting to make the book perfect, as it was written by a 6 year old and should reflect her thoughts (through her pictures and words) on her experiences.

Key Takeaways

  • I found shorter sessions worked better than trying to do it all in one attempt.
  • Introduce things the student liked. If my student didn’t enjoy colouring in or drawing, we would have chosen other ways to add images to the text.
  • Make it fun for the student – ask them what they would like to write about. Depending on the age, explain what types of writing they could complete and start from there.
  • Show examples – use mentor texts and look through books to help you decide what components the text needs.

The Co-Constructed MultiModal Text


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (n.d.-a). Australian Curriculum: English: Foundation to year 10 curriculum [Curriculum Document]. Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://www.australlancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/enash/

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (n.d.-b). Australian Curriculum: Information and communication technology capability learning continuum [Curriculum document]. https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/1074/general-capabilities-information-and-communication-ict-capability-learning-continuum.pdf

Beechbrookkids. (n.d.). My day at the beach: A social story for young children. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzukiBvhiAM

Booth, T. (2018). Our day at the beach. Jeter Publishing.

Department of Employment, Education and Work Relations. (2009). Belonging, being and becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia. DEEWR. https://www.education.gov.au/download/775/belonging-being-becoming-early-years-learning-framework-australia/18161/document/pdf/en

Dorfman, L. R., Cappelli, R., & Hoyt, L. (2017). Mentor texts: Teaching writing through children’s literature K-6 (2nd ed.) Stenhouse Publishers.

Fellowes, J., & Oakley, G. (2019). Language, literacy and early childhood education (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press.

Reading Rockets. (n.d.). Launching young readers! Reading Rockets. https://www.readingrockets.org/

StoryboardThat. (n.d.). https://www.storyboardthat.com/

Victoria State Government Department of Education and Training. (2022a). Creating multimodal texts. https://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/discipline/english/literacy/multimodal/Pages/createmultimodal.aspx

Victoria State Government Department of Education and Training. (2022b). High impact teaching strategies and high-ability. https://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/high-ability-toolkit/Pages/high-impact-teaching-strategies-and-high-ability.aspx


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Co-creating Multimodal Texts with Young Children Copyright © 2023 by Melissa Meyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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