After the War Activities

After the war

written by Bob Kerr

illustrated by Bob Kerr

published by Mallinson Rendel, 2000

In 1945, upon returning from World War 2, a soldier and his family plant an apple tree in front of their house. The text follows this tree through years – 1950, 1955, 1960, 1965, 1970, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1999 – and through seasons – summer, autumn, winter and spring. Although the text tells a basic story of the life of this tree, the real story is in the illustrations, in which the details tell the reader a great deal about history unfolding in a geographical sense, as well as for the family personally. Looking carefully at the illustrations, one can see new buildings going up – a city developing in the background, and planes and cars changing and becoming more modern as the years go by. For the family, there are marriages, babies and losses. And of course the apple tree grows bigger each year. This is a powerful story told mostly through illustrations about change and progress and about family and togetherness. When the apple tree is blown down in a storm 54 years later, the family plant a new kowhai tree in the same spot, and in this act a new sense of New Zealand identity is reflected.

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: EXPLORING OUR HISTORY (Social Science/ English)
NZ Curriculum Level 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 This story gives a great illustration of how New Zealand has changed and developed over 50 years. Students can use this book as the beginning of a research project which examines New Zealand’s history and development over this time.

1. After reading, discuss the ideas presented in the book. Establish that the story spans 50 years. You could ask:

  • Why do you think the title of the story is ‘After the war’?
  • What clues are there that the story begins ‘in the old days’?

Old jars and storage tins (still brands we have today!), calendar, taps, clothing, old radio)

  • What changes can you see as the story moves through the years – 1950, 1955, 1960, 1965, 1970, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990 and 1999?

Talk about transport, buildings, clothing, farms becoming established, city in the background

  • Look also at the inside covers – what year could this have been? What clues show us this?

2. In pairs or small groups, children choose a year to research and report back on. One group could research a time before British colonization – as shown on the inside front and back covers. Others can choose a year from the story, ending in 1999.

3. Use books and the internet to find information.

Ask students to find out:

  • What did cars look like?
  • How did people dress? What were the fashions?
  • Who was Prime Minister?
  • What did newly built houses look like?
  • What was the New Zealand population in that year?
  • What were some of the major events in that year?

4. Once they have found the information, students can prepare an oral report to share back with the class. They may use photos and drawing to support their report.

If applicable, students may choose to create a slideshow or Powerpoint presentation to support their reporting.

Materials
  • Information books
  • Internet access
  • Paper
  • Photos – photocopying access?
  • Computer access (if creating slideshows)
Taking it further
  • Create a time line of major events from 1945 to 1999 (Social Science)
  • Students could investigate aspects of history, for example major natural disasters that have occurred in New Zealand’s history, or how vehicles have changed and developed over time (Social Science)
  • Explore New Zealand’s role in World War 2 in more detail (Social Science)
  • Explore British colonization of New Zealand in more detail (Social Science)
  • Explore migration into New Zealand in more detail (Social Science)
Curriculum Links Social Science

  • understand how time and change affect people’s lives (Level 2)
  • understand how places influence people and people influence places (Level 2)
  • understand how the status of Maori as tangata whenua is significant for communities in New Zealand (Level 2)
  • understand how people remember and record the past in different ways (Level 3)
  • understand how early Polynesian and British migrations to New Zealand have continuing significance for tangata whenua and communities (Level 3)
  • understand how the movement of people affects cultural diversity and interaction in New Zealand (Level 3)

English

Listening, Reading and Viewing

  • show some understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts (Level 2)
  • show a developing understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts (Level 3)
Applications for Level 1 At Level 1, children are required to understand how the past is important to people. Children could notice and discuss the changes they see in the pictures as the years pass. They can make links to their own experiences with history – what was life like for their own parents and grandparents? This could lead on to some drawn or written responses.
Applications for Level 4 and above At Levels 4 and above, this book could provide a starting point for some research into aspects of New Zealand history. At Level 6, students begin to understand how the causes and consequences of past events that are of significance to New Zealanders shape the lives of people and society.
Activity 2: TAONGA – Family Treasures (English/ Social Science)
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
  • relating to others
Activity In this story, the family treasure is a tree which a father and his daughter planted upon his return from the war.

1. After reading the story, establish that the tree is a taonga for this family. Discuss the meaning of this word – it is a treasured possession which holds meaning and significance.

Ask: why is this tree so treasured? What is significant about it?

It represents the father returning from the war – signifies a new beginning, togetherness as a family, growth, new memories. The tree stands for many years as the family grows and changes. When the tree is cut down in a storm, the family replaces it with a new taonga – a kowhai tree, to continue the memories and traditions for this family.

2. Ask the children if they have any family treasures like this. It may be a tree or plant, or a piece of clothing, jewellery, photo or ornament. (They may need to go home and talk with their families to find out about this.)

Children may be able to bring in a photo, a drawing or the actual item to talk and write about in class.

3. When sharing about their family treasures, ask the children to discuss in pairs and then report back to the class about their partner’s treasure.

i. What is it? Does it have a special function?

ii. Where did it come from?

iii. Why is it a treasure for your family? What is its significance?

4. After sharing orally, children could write about their treasures and the significance of the object for their family.

Materials
  • Family treasure brought from home
Curriculum Links Social Science

  • understand how belonging to groups is important for people (Level 1)
  • understand how the past is important to people (Level 1)
  • understand how time and change affect people’s lives (Level 2)
  • understand how people remember and record the past in different ways (Level 3)

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)
  • show a developing understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts (Level 3)

Speaking, Writing and Presenting

  • form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 1)
  • select, form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 2)
  • select, form and communicate ideas on a range of topics (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above At Level 4 and above, students can explore how the passing on of taonga is used to pass on and sustain culture and heritage. In English, they should refine and develop presentations and written work, selecting and using language features for particular effect.
Activity 3: SEASONS (Science)
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 The basic text of this story tells of a tree growing and moving through the four seasons over many years. At Level 1, students could explore how seasonal changes affect a tree.

1. Read the story, then look back through the pages and ask children to notice how the tree changes as the seasons pass.

Establish that:

  • In its first summer it was watered (why?) and in its first winter it needed shelter (why?)
  • In spring it flowered
  • In summer starlings built nests in its branches
  • In autumn it produced apples and the leaves turned golden
  • In winter it lost its leaves and looked bare. It “waited for spring”

2. Encourage children to make connections with what they already know. What else happens to a tree in summer/ autumn/ winter/ spring?

Look at some other images of trees through the seasons. See ‘Resources’ for some images.

3. Divide a long strip of paper into 4 sections. On each section, draw and colour a tree as it would be in each season. Label the seasons. Children could also write descriptive sentences about what the tree would look like in each season – as in the book.

Materials
  • Paper strips
  • Images of trees in different seasons (see Resources)
  • Crayons, felts, pencils
Resources Images of trees through the seasons:

http://www.123rf.com/photo_4792596_apple-tree-in-four-seasons.html

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)
  • Over a year, follow a tree as it changes through the seasons. Take photos and compare as the year goes on (Science)
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)

Mathematics

Measurement – Time

  • order and compare events by time, by direct comparison and/ or counting whole numbers of units (Level 1)
Links to other NZPBC books

Kimi and the watermelon – the illustrations in this book also contain references to the seasons