A Summery Saturday Morning Activities

A summery Saturday morning

written by Margaret Mahy

illustrated by Selina Young

published by Puffin, 1999

A group set out for a walk with their two dogs, down a wiggly track to the sea one summery Saturday morning. On the way they confront a cat, a boy on a rattly bike, long grass… and a mean eyed mother goose with her gaggle of babies. When the dogs chase the geese, the adventure turns sour as the group gets stuck in some ‘guggilywuggy’ mud and the geese attack! The text is rhythmic and repetitive, which makes it ideal for younger children. The watercolour illustrations show scenic New Zealand landscapes of hills leading down to the sea. The pictures show some classic New Zealand Saturday morning scenes – out for a walk, mowing the lawn, hanging out the washing, cats lazing in the sun, sailing, paddling in the sea, fishing and bike riding.

Please note that these activities are suggestions which have not yet been trialled. We welcome any feedback on how they play out in the classroom (see the feedback section).

Activity 1: RETELLING THE STORY (The Arts)
NZ Curriculum Level 1

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • relating to others
Activity In groups, children could practise retelling the story as a dramatisation. This could be done in several different ways:
  • A narrator reads the story as the others act out the parts of the animals in mime.
  • Children rewrite the story in their own words, which is then narrated and acted out.
  • Children create a play (written or orally) from the text of the book, whereby each character has lines to say.
  • The story may be acted out completely in mime.

1. After reading through the story a couple of times, identify all of the characters and actions in the story. Ask the children to find a space in the room and practise moving and acting like each character. For example:

  • How would the dogs go down the wiggly track?
  • How do you think the children are feeling at the beginning of the story? How would they move to show this?
  • Find a partner – one be the dog and one the cat. The dog chases the cat!
  • How would you show that you are the boy on the rattly bike?
  • How could you show that the wind is blowing wild and free?

2. When children have had some practise, they can go away in groups and work on their dramatisation, which they would later perform to the class.

Taking it further
  • Try using musical instruments to add in some sound effects (Music)
  • Think about costumes for each character (The Arts)
  • Perform to a wider audience – parents or school assembly.
Curriculum Links The Arts


  • explore the elements of role, focus, action, tension, time and space through dramatic play (Level 1)
  • contribute and develop ideas in drama, using personal experience and imagination (Level 1)
  • share drama through informal presentation and respond to ways in which drama tells stories and conveys ideas in their own and others work (Level 1)
Applications for Level 2 and above Older children could dramatise this story for the purposes of performing it to younger children. At Level 3 and above, they may begin to think about how they can use relevant technologies such as lighting or backdrops, to enhance their performances.
NZ Curriculum Level 1 & 2

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
Activity This story is written using rhyming stanzas.

1. After reading, go back to the text and notice with the children that each page of text follows the same 4 line pattern:

Line 1: sentence introducing new activity

Line 2: last part of line 1 is repeated twice

Line 3: a new sentence with a rhyming word at the end

Line 4: On a summery Saturday morning

2. Go back through the text and identify all of the rhyming words:

track/black, cat/fat, bike/like, sea/free, green/mean, another/mother, away/play, dogs/logs, guggliwugs/slugliwugs, hiss/this, back/track.

Notice with the children that in most cases, the words that rhyme have the same middle and ending. However, not all of them do: sea/free, green/mean, hiss/this

Establish that a word does not need to look the same to rhyme, it just needs to sound the same.

3. Children can go on to make up their own rhyming lists of words. They could be given basic words (for example, tree) and list underneath all of the words they can think of which rhyme (for example, be, bee, me, she, we, pea, ski, free). To help them develop an awareness of spelling in rhyme, students could use 2 different colours to highlights those words which have the same middle and ending, and those words which have a different middle and ending.

  • At Level 1, students can use their word lists to write rhyming sentences (which make sense). See how many rhyming words they can use within the same sentence.
  • At Level 2, students can use Mahy’s writing as a model for their own. Try using her 4 line stanzas to create their own story/ poem.
Taking it further
  • Edit and publish sentences and poems to share with others (English)
  • Put up lists of rhyming words around the classroom for future reference. They might also be added to from time to time (English)
Curriculum Links English

Listening, Reading and Viewing

  • recognise and begin to understand how language features are used for effect within and across texts (Level 1)
  • show some understanding of how language features are used for effect within and across texts (Level 2)

Speaking, Writing and Presenting

  • use language features, showing some recognition of their effects (Level 1)
  • use language features appropriately, showing some understanding of their effects (Level 2)
Acknowledgements In her book ‘I’ve got something to say’, Gail Loane encourages teachers to borrow from authors and use their writing as models. Tell the children “We’re going to do a Margaret Mahy today!”

Loane, G. (2010). I’ve got something to say. Thames: Aries Publishing Ltd

Activity 3: MEMOIR WRITING (English)
NZ Curriculum Level 1, 2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • managing self
Activity The text and illustrations in this story paint a great picture of how New Zealanders like to spend a summer Saturday morning.

In this activity, students are asked to write a memoir – a memory of one particularly enjoyable summery Saturday morning.

1. After reading the story, look back through the book and ask: What do the words tell us about activities people do on a summery Saturday morning? What do the illustrations show us? (look especially at the front or back inside covers.)

Text: take the dogs for a walk, ride a bike, run with the dogs on the beach – scattering shells and leaping logs

Illustrations: go for a walk, hang out the washing, mow the lawn, ride a bike, go to the beach, sail or row a boat, play with a toy boat, collect shells and pick flowers, have a picnic on the beach, fly a kite, go fishing

2. Do you like to do any of these things on a summery Saturday morning? Talk with a partner about what you like to do – they may be the same activities as in the story, or different. Share with a partner, then invite some children to share with the class.

3. Visualisation:

  • Do you remember a particularly enjoyable summery Saturday morning?
  • Close your eyes and try to remember what it was like.
  • Where were you? Who were you with?
  • What smells/ sounds were around you?
  • What was the weather like?
  • What were you doing?
  • What were you thinking?
  • What was it about that morning that made it so good?

Now open your eyes and tell your partner about that time.

Partners ask questions to get more detail.

When partners have shared, invite some children to share with the class.

4. Planning

  • At Level 1, talking with their partner will be enough to think through their ideas for writing.
  • At Levels 2 and 3, students may wish to plan their paragraphs before they begin writing.

5. After planning, students can begin to write their memoir.

These may be left as they are, or taken through the editing and publishing process.

Curriculum Links English

Speaking, Writing and Presenting

  • form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 1)
  • use language features, showing some recognition of their effects (Level 1)
  • organise texts, using simple sturctures (Level 1)
  • select, form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 2)
  • use language features appropriately, showing some understanding of their effects (Level 2)
  • organise texts, using a range of structures (Level 2)
  • select, form and communicate ideas on a range of topics (Level 3)
  • use language features appropriately, showing a developing understanding of their effects (Level 3)
  • organise texts, using a range of appropriate structures (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above This memoir writing activity may be done at any level. As students progress through the levels, they should be able to show increasingly complex use of ideas, language features and structures in their writing.