A Booming in the Night Activities

A booming in the night

written by Ben Brown

illustrated by Helen Taylor

published by Reed, 2005.

Down in the swamp, late at night, Pukeko is disturbed by a great booming coming from the forest. A booming in the night tells the story of Pukeko’s quest to find Kakapo a friend, in order to stop his great ‘booming in the night’. Along the way the reader meets various New Zealand wildlife – Kotuku (the white heron), Little Frog, Tieke (the saddleback), Seal, Kiore (the rat) and  Ruru (the morepork). Author Ben Brown cleverly attaches personality to each animal as the reader meets them. Illustrations by Helen Taylor show the wildlife and the landscape in bright water colours. As well as being a delightful story, this book teaches  the reader about New Zealand wildlife in the swamp, the forest and the sea.

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: NATIVE BIRD ART (Visual Art)
NZ Curriculum Level 1, 2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
Activity In this book, Helen Taylor (the illustrator) gives us some beautiful painted illustrations of New Zealand native birds in their natural habitats.

1. After reading the story, look back over the illustrations with the children. Notice:

  • the detail in the birds, especially the ‘feathered’ textures and how the illustrator has achieved this
  • the habitats the birds have been placed in, eg. pukeko and kotuku down in the swamp, the frog on a mossy rock in the forest.

2. When children have chosen the bird they will paint, spend some time looking at other images (photos and drawings) of the bird. Have a few practices at sketching the bird before beginning final picture.

  • At Level 1, children will need to use watercolour paint to create 2 different pictures – one of the background habitat and another of the bird itself. The bird can then be cut out and stuck onto the background to create an overlapping effect.
  • At Level 2, children can begin to overlap bird and background plants and trees on one picture.
  • At Level 3, children may ‘borrow’ a painting style from an artist they have been studying and paint in the same style. It may be in the style of Helen Taylor, or in the style of another known painter.
Materials
  • bird images – photos or drawings
  • paper
  • sketching pencils
  • watercolour paints
Taking it further
  • As a class, children could create a habitat mural, showing birdlife in the forest and in the swamp. They could support this with writing facts about each native bird to be stuck on the mural as well. (Science)
  • Explore bird artwork using different mediums – pencil, crayon, pastel, chalk, printmaking etc. Children could explore how they could create ‘feathery’ textures using these mediums. (Visual Art)
Curriculum Links Visual Art

  • explore a variety of materials and tools and discover elements and selected principles (Level 1)
  • investigate visual ideas in response to a variety of motivations, observation, and imagination (Level 1)
  • explore a variety of materials and tools and discover elements and selected principles (Level 2)
  • investigate and develop visual ideas in response to a variety of motivations, observation and imagination (Level 2)
  • explore some art-making conventions, applying knowledge of elements and selected principles through the use of materials and processes (Level 3)
  • develop and revisit visual ideas, in response to a variety of motivations, observation, and imagination, supported by the study of artists’ work (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above This activity could easily be adapted for higher curriculum levels. As students progress through the levels, they would create a more skilled piece of artwork, and be seen to develop their own personal style.


Activity 2: DESCRIPTIVE WRITING (English)
NZ Curriculum Level 1 & 2

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
Description The gorgeous images of New Zealand birdlife in Helen Taylor’s illustrations lend themselves beautifully to descriptive writing.

1.Begin by talking with children about the birds, brainstorming adjectives that could be used to describe the way each bird looks.

2. Look at the verbs used in the text to describe what the bird does

eg. kakapo puffs up, shuffles and booms

kotuku preens elegantly

tieke flits about

seal basks in the sun and swats at flies

kiore hides under a leaf, squeaks and scurries

ruru dozes

3. Children can have a go at writing their own descriptive story about their chosen bird. OR they could work from a model such as the following:

1st sentence: name of bird

2nd sentence: 3 adjectives (or phrases including an adjective) which describe the bird, separated by commas

3rd sentence: using a verb to describe how it moves

4th sentence: how [insert 4th adjective] you are.

Example:

Kotuku.

Long legs and neck, graceful body, feathery white wings,

You primp and preen so elegantly,

How regal you are.

Materials
  • paper and pen/ pencil
  • some other examples of descriptive writing may be helpful
Taking it further
  • Children could produce a piece of artwork to go alongside their writing (see Activity 1). This would make a fabulous wall display. (Visual Art)
  • Explore other forms of poetry and descriptive writing about birds and animals. Try using other models for writing a poem. (English)
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 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)
Applications for Level 3 and above Students can write descriptively in this way right through the curriculum levels. It would be expected that with each increasing level, students show greater independence and skill in their writing. They should develop their understanding of different text forms and their purposes. They should be able to use increasingly complex vocabulary in their writing.
Activity 3: HABITAT STUDIES (Science)
NZ Curriculum Level 1, 2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • relating to others
  • participating and contributing (at Level 3)
Activity In this story, we can see the habitats that exist within swamp, forest and sea.

In groups, children can select a habitat which they would like to research and find out more about. They could visit the school library, look in encyclopedias and search online to find out their information.

  • At Level 1, the children can use the illustrations in the book as a starting point. Students could answer these questions:

Who lives in the forest?

What plants and trees can we see there?

What do you think the creatures in the forest eat to survive?

  • At Level 2, children will be able to do more widespread research to get their information. They could visit the school library, look in encyclopedias and search online. They will then need to refine their research and choose how they will present their findings. For example they could create a research report, a poster or a slideshow.
  • At Level 3, children could consider environmental changes and conservations issues. For example, what would happen to the creatures if half the forest’s trees were chopped down? Again, students could have some choice as to how they might present their information.
Materials
  • information books
  • internet access
  • paper – large enough for posters
  • computers (if making a slideshow)
Taking it further
  • Organise a visit to observe different New Zealand habitats locally first hand, or visit a zoo to see what conditions the native wildlife needs to survive. (Science)
Curriculum Links Science: Living World (Ecology)

  • recognise that all living things are suited to their particular habitat (Levels 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)
Applications for Level 4 and above At Level 5, students can investigate ecosystems within these habitats (how living things are interdependent to survive). At Level 6, students can consider the impact of human actions and natural events on these ecosystems.