Kimi and the Watermelon Activities

Kimi and the watermelon

written by Miriam Smith

illustrated by David Armitage

illustrated by Puffin, 1983

Kimi lives with her grandmother and her Uncle Tau in the country. Together they plant a huge vegetable garden, including one tiny watermelon plant. When Uncle Tau has to go to the city to work, he asks Kimi to look after the watermelon plant so it will be ready to eat when he gets back. Kimi diligently waters and cares for the watermelon plant, which grows and lightens perfectly, ready to eat. She waits and waits, through the seasons, but Uncle Tau has not returned. Just when she is about to give up on him, he appears and they can finally share the watermelon together. A heartwarming story about the importance of family, and what it is like to miss someone when they are gone. The text and illustrations show New Zealand themes throughout, including fishing for eels, precious greenstones and images of flax kete, as well as rural New Zealand landscapes.

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).

NZ Curriculum Level 1, 2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and texts
  • managing self
  • relating to others
  • participating and contributing
Activity In this story Kimi and her Uncle Tau plant and grow their own fruit and vegetables.

Children can be involved in planting their own vegetables in class

–  on a small scale (for example, growing some cress)

–  or on a large scale (for example, planting and cultivating vegetables over time)

1.After reading the story, look back through the pages and talk about what the story tells us about growing fruit and vegetables.

Things like:

– the soil needs to be prepared for planting – dug up and raked to soften it

–  seeds need to be planted far apart to allow them room to grow

– some seeds need to begin their growth in a pot (like the watermelon seed). Why might this be?

– seeds should be planted in the sunniest part of the garden

– the plants need to be kept watered

– growing time varies – some fruit and vegetables only need a short time to grow, others need longer (like the watermelon)

2. Depending on the available time frame, organise children into small groups and ask them to decide what vegetables or fruit they would like to grow.

  • At Level 1 and 2, students will need to be supported in deciding the best conditions for planting and growing their food.
  • At Level 3, students should research to find out the best conditions for their food to grow. They will need to consider best soil types (and find the best types around the school), and how much sun and water the plants need for best growth.

3. Children should be involved in daily nurture of their plants. And they should certainly be involved in the eating when they are ready!

Note: for a very short term growing project at Level 1, grow some cress seeds on cotton wool – they come up within a couple of days and can be used to make yummy vegemite and cress sandwiches!

  • Seeds or seedlings for vegetables and fruit
  • Patch of soil
Taking it further
  • organise a shared lunch that incorporates fruit and vegetables grown by the class (Health/ Science)
  • maintain a school vegetable patch – each class could have their own plot (Science)
Curriculum Links Science

Living World

Life Processes

  • recognise that all living things have certain requirements so they can stay alive (Level 1 & 2)
  • recognise that there are life processes common to all living things and that these occur in different ways (Level 3)


  • recognise that living things are suited to their particular habitat (Level 1 & 2)
  • explain how living things are suited to their particular habitat and how they respond to environmental changes, both natural and human-induced (Level 3)
NZ Curriculum Level 1 & 2

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • managing self
Activity In this story Kimi uses some of her senses to describe the watermelon. This idea can be taken further in the classroom by using all of the senses to explore different fruit.

1. After reading the story, talk to the children about the 5 senses. Write them up on the board.

2. Look back through the pages and identify the parts where Kimi has used her senses in the story:

–       “The shoots of the young corn were already standing up like tiny blades of grass.” (sight)

–       “Already it had a small round melon on it with skin as smooth and green as Grandma’s precious piece of greenstone.” (sight and touch)

–       “… as the days went by it grew too heavy to lift.” (touch)

–       “The colour had changed. It was a softer green.” (sight)

–       “The melon felt warm and smooth against her face.” (touch)

–       “… Grandma was singing. She hadn’t heard Grandma singing for a long time.” (sound)

–       “There was a lovely smell of bacon cooking.” (smell)

Notice with the children that one sense is missing. Which is it? TASTE!

3. Have some different kinds of fruit available for tasting. Encourage the children to use all of their senses as they describe how the fruit looks, feels, smells, tastes and sounds (if applicable).

4. This oral language experience can be turned into a piece of poetry. See ‘Resources’ for example of food-inspired poems.

  • At Level 1, students can create a ‘What am I?’ poem, using their 5 senses.
  • At Level 2, students could explore a variety of different forms for writing their poem. Try comparing different fruit and vegetables within the same poem.

Publish and share poetry on completion. If the children have written ‘What am I?’ poems, see if others can guess the correct fruit.

  • Fruit to taste
  • Poetry examples – see Resources
  • Paper for publishing
Resources Fruit Poems
  • Level 2 examples:

  • What am I? poem – Level 1:
Taking it further
  • Make and enjoy eating fruit salad (Technology)
  • Learn about healthy food choices – explore the food pyramid (Health)
Curriculum Links English

Listening, Reading and Viewing

  • recognise and identify ideas within and across texts (Level 1)
  • show some understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts (Level 2)

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 structures (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)
Activity 3: SEASONS (Science/ Maths)
NZ Curriculum Level 1

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • managing self
Activity In the story Kimi waits a whole year for Uncle Tau to return and the story describes the seasons as they pass.

1. Establish that all children know the 4 seasons. Spend some time talking about the order of the seasons and which months are in each season. A seasons wheel would help to illustrate this.

2. Maths Link: Look carefully at a calendar and talk about how long each season lasts for.

  • How many months in a year?
  • Each month has approximately 30 days (an extension could be to find out exact days in each month and work out days in a year)
  • How many months does each season last for?

3. Identify the features of each season.

  • What happens in Spring/ Summer/ Autumn/ Winter?
  • How does our clothing change?
  • How do our play activities change?
  • Which is your favourite season? Why?

4. Make connections to the book. Look back through the pages and see what is happening at each season, while Kimi waits.

In Spring – the apple tree was in blossom

– the water in the creek was getting warmer

– Kimi and Uncle Tau went fishing and swimming

– Uncle Tau got the garden ready and they planted the

vegetables and the watermelon in the garden

In Summer – the days grew warmer

– Grandma and Kimi tended and watered the


In Autumn – Grandma and Kimi dug up the kumara, picked the

tomatoes and laid the onion to dry in the warm sun

– the corn was ready

– the melon was growing and changing colour

– the apples had been picked and put away for winter

– the days are getting colder

In Winter – the water was too cold for playing in the creek

– Grandma and Kimi didn’t work outside anymore

– the leaves of the watermelon had withered

– the apple tree lost its leaves

– there were frosts at night

Link these to childrens own ideas about the seasons.

5. Children can make a Seasons booklet – one page for each season. On each page, write the season and its months of the year. Draw a picture which shows some things that happen in each season – for example, summer’s picture could be swimming in a pool with the sun high and bright in the sky.

Children can write about each season too, if appropriate.

Share and compare seasons booklets, discussing each others ideas.

  • Seasons wheel
  • Calendar – for maths link
  • A4 paper for seasons booklet – fold in half to get 4 sides
Taking it further
  • Make a seasons wheel (Science)
  • Have a box of dress ups – children can dress up for each season accordingly (or different types of weather) (Science)
  • Memoir writing – remembering a summery/ wintery day activity (English)
Curriculum Links Science

Planet Earth and Beyond

Earth Systems

  • explore and describe natural features and resources (Level 1)

Interacting Systems

  • describe how natural features are changed and resources affected by natural events and human actions (Level 1)


Measurement – Time

  • order and compare events by time, by direct comparison and/ or counting whole numbers of units (Level 1)
Applications for Level 2 and above At Level 2 and above, students could begin to compare seasons around the world and how they differ from New Zealands months and seasons. They could investigate reasons for this. Students could explore the best growing and harvesting times for fruit and vegetables – for example, feijoas are harvested in the autumn, while strawberries are in the summer.

At Level 6, students can investigate the interactions between the solar, lunar and Earth cycles and the effect of these on Earth.

Links to other NZPBC books

After the war – this books contains references to the seasons