The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan ~ A Unit of Study (Yr 4 upwards)



This lesson provides students with the opportunity to develop their literal and inferential comprehension skills with the use of a fictional text. This unit of study includes predicting, discussing and viewing before assessing students’ comprehension abilities. Arts Ideas can also be incorporated into this unit. The joy in this lesson is the students predfictions, impressions and descriptions are so varied it provides evidence to the students how we all interpret differently. This unit could be taught over a week or two weeks, because each time the text is shown something new is seen.

Australian Curriculum Links:

Year 4:

  • Discuss literary experiences with others, sharing responses and expressing a point of view (ACELT1603)
  • Discuss how authors and illustrators make stories exciting, moving and absorbing and hold readers’ interest by using various techniques, for example character development and plot tension (ACELT1605)
  • Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning to expand content knowledge, integrating and linking ideas and analysing and evaluating texts (ACELY1692)

Year 5:

  • Identify aspects of literary texts that convey details or information about particular social, cultural or historical contexts (ACELT1608)
  • Recognise that ideas in literary texts can be conveyed from different viewpoints, which can lead to different kinds of interpretations and responses (ACELT1610)
  • Use comprehension strategies analyse information, integrating and linking ideas from a variety of print and digital sources (ACELY1703)

Lesson Sequence:

Lesson 1 – Introduction/Warm up:

  • Student prediction – To gain their attention tell students the title ‘The Lost Thing’, but don’t show them the cover and you could complete a class brainstorm of possible predictions, individual prediction on Post-It note or a quick T/P/S

Lesson 1 – Body:

  • Read the text to students – just READ! Let them know that there will be no discussion until the end of the text to ensure there are no interruptions for others.
  • After reading the text have a class discussion about the impressions they had / messages the illustrations convey / students feelings and record on whiteboard or paper.

Lesson 2:

  • Read the text to students and have discussions throughout on possible words the students may misunderstand.
  • At the conclusion of this reading get students to record their description of the ‘Lost Thing’ independently and then share with a partner.
  • It is also worth coming back as a group to share thoughts as this provides evidence of the students’ differing opinions.

Possible discussion points as a class:

  • What does the creature look like?
  • Where does it come from?
  • Why didn’t people want to help? Why was no one willing to help?
  • What does Pete mean ‘Maybe it doesn’t belong to anyone? anywhere?
  • Double Page (image/ no text) What do you see?
  • What is the general environment and atmosphere of the story?
  • Explain the dress, attitude and actions of the figures.
  • Discuss the setting (future)
  • What does being “lost” mean?
  • What messages does the author give us? Moral?
  • What does belonging mean?

Lesson 4:

Viewing of Lost Thing

  • The viewing of ‘The Lost Thing’ provides a different perspective with music and sounds to the storyline.

Optional Ideas:

  • Collage/ mural – students draw their own “lost” thing on white paper using a black texta, students find environmental pictures from magazines/ newspapers to glue their “lost” thing on. Students describe the location of the “lost” thing (access thesaurus).
  • Extension (time permits) students type/ neatly write their descriptive words and cut out to glue onto collage.
  • Students swap collages and discuss


  • Read the text to students one final time (without questions or discussion) and in test conditions students answer the Independent Comprehension Questions. Mark as a class and discuss differing opinions.


  • Delete after reading – List assessment ideas in this section. You can also use the upload/insert button (above) to insert any rubrics or templates that you may have.




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