NZPBC Activities

For each of the 22 books in the New Zealand Picture Book Collection, Marion McKoy has developed three classroom activities linked to specific achievement objectives in a range of learning areas.

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).

Here is a description of the process she followed:

In designing the activities, a similar process was followed each time. I firstly read all of the books and developed an annotated bibliography of the collection. Secondly, I counted the number of Maori loanwords and calculated these as a ratio of the total number of words in each picture book. Thirdly, I analysed the picturebooks in terms of what links could be made to the New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007), and developed classroom activities for each picture book in the following way:

Considering the possibilities

I read each book carefully a couple of times and while reading, jotted down all of the classroom applications I could think of. I asked myself: how would I use this book in my classroom? What questions/ comments would the students have about the book? Although using external examples as a guide, in her journaling it was evident that Marion was using her 11 year’s teaching experience in the process of activity development: “I wasn’t sure how far to take it  so chose to limit the plan to the levels I am more familiar with, Levels 1 and 2 “ [24 November 2010].

Deciding on the activities

After reading, I went back through the list of possibilities and narrowed it down to the 3 best. In doing so I considered the following:

  • activities which I could see would work for a greater range of levels
  • activities which were the most relevant – those which would seem a more natural follow on from the book. In deciding this, it helped to think about where the children themselves might go after reading the book – what their questions and comments might be
  • activities which linked well to NZ curriculum objectives. I tried to look especially for links to Maths and Health and Physical Education. At times I could find a link, but it was vague and did not seem a natural enough follow on to use.
  • activities which I thought would be the most enjoyable for students.

Choosing objectives from the New Zealand Curriculum

Next I set about finding the ‘best fit’ objectives from the New Zealand curriculum. I first needed to decide what curriculum area (s) I was going to work within. On many occasions there was a cross over between 2 areas and there were a couple of books which I felt covered 3 curriculum areas.At times there was a very clear link to a curriculum objective. Occasionally I found that I needed to ‘tweak’ my original idea slightly, to make it fit in with the objectives within the curriculum area. I found that deciding on the curriculum area and identifying the objectives I was going to use helped to refine the ideas I had for the lesson, and gave me a clear picture about where the lesson needed to go.

It was evident that as has been shown in other studies, Marion found making links to arts and language for classroom activities linked to the books in the NZPBC much easier than making links to maths: “It seems to be very easy to find languages/arts links, as they are obviously what the book IS” [15 December 2010]; and “I’m still trying to find a place for maths in all these books, but struggling” [6 January 2011].

Choosing curriculum level and key competencies

In the process of finding links to the curriculum, it became clear which levels the activity would be most suited to. Mostly, I was able to find objectives that fit for Levels 1, 2, and 3. At times, it did not seem appropriate to include all 3 levels, for example a fairly basic activity which looked at the 4 seasons was really only suitable at Level 1. In planning for another book, I felt the ideas in the book were too complex for children working at Level 1, so planned for Levels 2 and 3 only. I also considered the 5 key competencies before I began planning the details of each lesson. This also helped to refine the planning process.

Writing the activity description

The next step was to think through the activity itself. In doing this, I tried to keep in mind that the activities were intended for a teacher to be able to pick up and run with. I tried to keep the description as brief as possible, and used bullet points to make steps clear. At times I also found it helpful to give a brief introduction about the activity before beginning the lesson moves.

While writing the description, I tried to add in bullet points which gave suggestions for differentiating the activities for different levels. I also used a smaller font to add in details which may be useful for the teacher to know. Often I found it necessary to add in a Resources section which provided links to other resources which would be helpful for the lesson, mostly online. I needed to consider whether or not the online resources would become quickly dated, and chose to leave some out for this reason.

In order to keep the lesson plans short and specific, I added a section to the plan called ‘Taking it further’. In this section, I put all the extension ideas for the activities. I did not want teachers to be put off using the activities because they were too long and ‘wordy’.

Applications for other levels

Following the description I felt it necessary to add in a section which gave applications for other levels. Teachers often assume that picturebooks can only be used with young children, however this is certainly not the case. I considered what the curriculum objectives were for each level and tried to make links where possible. In some instances the links to the curriculum became clearer, for example when Social Sciences become separate subjects of Geography, History, Economics and Social Studies at Level 6, there was often a specific area that the activity fitted into perfectly. The activities involved Visual Art or Writing, the activity could almost stay the same and students would simply work at creating more complex pieces.