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Monkey on stilts

Students study visual texts to explore aspects of road safety. They compose a pitch, slogan and investigate road safety rules.
Stimulus #1: 
Photographs of procession for Road Safety Week 1936 by Sam Hood

Text Type


  • composing rules and imperative sentences
  • group investigation of road safety issues


  • composing a slogan
  • Twitter pitch

Background information for teachers

Road Safety Week

In 1936 Sydney photographer Sam Hood documented a procession that was held as part of Road Safety Week.

The procession travelled through the city streets of Sydney and was viewed by large numbers of the public. The procession included groups of people marching and a number of floats.

Floats were a common feature of parades or processions in Australia up until the 1970s. A float might be decorated with posters and banners featuring a slogan.

One of the most interesting floats in the procession for Road Safety Week in 1936 was a vehicle topped by a stage that featured live performing monkeys. The monkeys held signs featuring slogans promoting road safety.

The monkeys are probably rhesus macaques, a common species found throughout the world.

Changing attitudes to the treatment of animals mean that such a float would be unlikely to be seen today.

Road Safety Week is now an international event that is supported by the United Nations. Every year people around the world take part in activities that draw attention to the importance of road safety. The third UN International Road Safety Week was held from 4-10 May 2015.  The theme was: Save kid’s lives.  More information can be found at the World Health Organisation website

In Australia 2015, the DRIVE – SOS! campaign focused on, Drive so others survive. People wore yellow ribbons throughout the year to indicate their support of this campaign.

The Decade of Road Safety from 2011-2020 is a global initiative that is designed to save 5 million lives over ten years.

Photographer: Sam Hood

The photographs of Sam Hood are an important part of the photographic collection of the State Library of New South Wales.

Sam Hood (1872-1953) was a Sydney photographer and photojournalist. His career as a photographer began in the late nineteenth century. He took many photographs of ships entering Sydney Harbour that he sold as ship portraits to the visiting crews. Some people believe he photographed every ship entering Sydney Harbour in a career of over sixty years.

Sam Hood opened his first studio in 1899. Throughout his career he continued the usual work of commercial photographers such as photographing family portraits, weddings and even funerals. 

In 1918 he opened a studio on Pitt Street in Sydney.  Sam Hood expanded his business into press photography, supplying photographs to the many newspapers published in Sydney at this time.

Sam Hood’s long career spanned significant changes in the history of photography. When he began his career photographs were rarely published by newspapers and most images were hand drawn illustrations made by engravers.

From the mid-1930s newspapers began to employ their own photographers and with fewer commissions Sam Hood expanded into commercial photography and advertising. He took many important photographs of Sydney buildings in the 1930s and 1940s.

Sam’s photos included images of celebrities from the theatre and entertainment industry, sporting events and the social history of NSW.

The State Library of New South Wales acquired a collection of negatives from Sam's daughter Gladys Hood in 1973. The collection includes nearly 50 000 images of his work.  A number of his cameras and accessories are also included in this acquisition.

Go to the State Library of NSW's Flickr account to see a photograph of Sam Hood outside his Pitt Street studio.

Student Activities

Photo discussion

Students discuss photos taken in 1936 by photographer Sam Hood promoting road safety.

Number of set tasks: 1

Write a promotional pitch

Students write and deliver a promtional pitch outling one aspect of road safety.

Number of set tasks: 1

Activity notes for teachers

Teaching strategies for photo discussion

You might like to discuss the student questions in activity 1 as a class. Alternatively, they could be completed as homework prior to discussion. Students could also discuss the questions in small groups and then report back to the class. Allocate roles such as time keeper, note taker, presenter and facilitator. The facilitator might read the questions aloud to the small group. 

Warm up activity

Brainstorm a list of ways you could promote aspects of road safety today.  The handout in Appendix 1 may be used by students to record their ideas.  This could be a group or individual task.

Explanation of a Pitch

Explain to the students that a pitch happens when you verbally present an idea for a project in the hope that it will be approved for production. It is a short spoken presentation that may use props or displays.

Rules and imperative sentences

Explain to the students the purpose and structure of an imperative sentence. 

Etymology: imperative, from the Latin word imperare, to command.

An imperative sentence is a command or request. A rule is a type of imperative sentence. This type of sentence gives advice or instructions. Imperative sentences express an obligation or duty of the reader or listener. They can indicate a rule that must be followed. Imperative questions usually open with a verb or action word e.g. Go now! Do this! Eat your broccoli. Look both ways. They end with a full stop or exclamation mark.

What is a slogan?

A slogan is a short phrase or group of words that might be used in marketing or in a religious or political context to express an idea. A slogan is usually a phrase or one or two short sentences. Slogans can be written, visual or spoken. Sometimes they are chanted.

The word slogan is an Anglicised version of the Scottish word sluagh ghairm tanmy, meaning a war cry. The most common form of slogan is that used in advertising. Slogans that are used for marketing or advertising are called taglines in the USA and strap lines in the United Kingdom. In Japan they are called catch-copy because they are intended to catch people’s attention and make them remember a product or service.

The purpose of an advertising slogan is to communicate the benefits of a product or service and to persuade people to buy it. Slogans are called pay-offs in Italy for this reason. A slogan might be used to try and change behaviour or thinking, as in a road safety campaign.

Features of a road safety slogan

  • simple and concise
  • witty and has a sense of personality
  • catchy or hard to forget
  • friendly and easy to believe
  • makes the reader or viewer feel an emotion
  • inspires a need or desire to buy the product

Language features of an advertising slogan

  • euphonious - musical or pleasant sounding (easy to say)
  • alliteration (repetition of the consonant sound)
  • assonance (repetition of a vowel sound)
  • puns (words with one or more meanings) or wordplay e.g. Monkey has two meanings in “Don’t monkey about”.
  • brevity (brief and uses few words)

NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum: English K-10

A student:

  • communicates effectively for a variety of audiences and purposes using increasingly challenging topics, ideas, issues and language forms and features EN3-1A
  • composes, edits and presents well-structured and coherent texts EN3-2A
  • uses an integrated range of skills, strategies and knowledge to read, view and comprehend a wide range of texts in different media and technologies EN3-3A
  • uses knowledge of sentence structure, grammar, punctuation and vocabulary to respond to and compose clear and cohesive texts in different media and technologies EN3-6B
  • thinks imaginatively, creatively, interpretively and critically about information and ideas and identifies connections between texts when responding to and composing texts EN3-7C
  • identifies and considers how different viewpoints of their world, including aspects of culture, are represented in texts EN3-8D



Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features

  • use and describe language forms and features of spoken texts appropriate to a range of purposes, audiences and contexts

Respond to and compose texts

  • plan, rehearse and deliver presentations, selecting and sequencing appropriate content and multimodal elements for defined audiences and purposes, making appropriate choices for modality and emphasis
  • use interaction skills, varying conventions of spoken interactions such as voice volume, tone, pitch and pace, according to group size, formality of interaction and needs and expertise of the audience 
  • discuss and experiment with ways to strengthen and refine spoken texts in order to entertain, inform, persuade or inspire the audience



Engage personally with texts

  • understand and appreciate the way texts are shaped through exploring a range of language forms and features and ideas
  • experiment and use aspects of composing that enhance learning and enjoyment

Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features

  • plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, choosing and experimenting with text structures, language features, images and digital resources appropriate to purpose and audience

Respond to and compose texts

  • compose texts that include sustained and effective use of persuasive devices, e.g. texts dealing with environmental issues



Develop and apply contextual knowledge

  • understand how texts vary in purpose, structure and topic as well as the degree of formality 

Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features

  • understand that the starting point of a sentence gives prominence to the message in the text and allows for prediction of how the text will unfold



Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features

  • identify and explain characteristic text structures and language features used in imaginative, informative and persuasive texts to meet the purpose of the text

Develop and apply contextual knowledge

  • identify and discuss how own texts have been structured to achieve their purpose and discuss ways of using conventions of language to shape readers' and viewers' understanding of texts
  • discuss how the intended audience, structure and context of an extended range of texts influence responses to texts



Respond to and compose texts

  • select appropriate language for a purpose, e.g. descriptive, persuasive, technical, evaluative, emotive and colloquial, when composing texts
  • experiment with different types of sentences, e.g. short sentences to build tension and complex sentences to add detail

Understand and apply knowledge of vocabulary

  • understand the use of vocabulary to express greater precision of meaning, and know that words can have different meanings in different contexts



Engage personally with texts

  • recognise and explain creative language features in imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that contribute to engagement and meaning
  • interpret events, situations and characters in texts
  • think critically about aspects of texts such as ideas and events

Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features

  • understand how authors often innovate on text structures and play with language features to achieve particular aesthetic, humorous and persuasive purposes and effects 



Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features

  • identify language features used to position the reader/viewer in a wide variety of communication activities for a range of purposes, including debates, formal talks, interviews, explanations, anecdotes and recitations

Respond to and compose texts

  • discuss and explore moral, ethical and social dilemmas encountered in texts 

In each year of Stage 3 students must study examples of:

  • visual texts
  • media, multimedia and digital texts

Across the stage, the selection must give student experience of:

  • a wide range of cultural, social and gender perspectives, popular and youth cultures
  • an appropriate range of digital texts, including film, media and multimedia
  • every day and community texts

Learning Across the Curriculum

General Capabilities:

  • creative and critical thinking
  • literacy
  • personal and social capability
  • intercultural understanding
  • information and communication technology capability

Areas of important learning:

  • civics and citizenship