Counting the Stars Activities

Counting the stars

written by Gavin Bishop

illustrated by Gavin Bishop

published by Random House, 2009

This book is a collection of four Maori myths which are accompanied by striking illustrations showing clear New Zealand images including New Zealand flora and fauna and beach and bush landscapes.  Mother Earth and Father Sky tells the traditional Maori story of creation, and how the two lovers Earth (Papatuanuku) and Sky (Ranginui) came to be separated by Tanemahuta, God of the Forest. The Battle of the Birds tells the story of the disagreement between the forest kawau and the coastal kawau and how each formed their own army of forest and sea birds and battled for their place, in the bush or on the sea. Kae and the Whale tells the story of Tinirau’s revenge on Kae, after he steals and eats Tinirau’s treasured whale, Tutunui. Hinemoa and Tutanekai relates Hinemoa’s great love for Tutanekai, and of how she swims to be with him, across what is now Lake Rotorua.

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: MYTHICAL GODS (Visual Art)

Mother Earth and Father Sky

NZC Curriculum Level 1, 2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • relating to others
Activity In this story we meet many of the Maori gods from ancient mythology:

– Ranginui (sky father)

– Papatuanuku (earth mother)

– Tawhirimatea (wind god)

– Tumateunga (god of war)

– Tanemahuta (god of the forest)

– Rongomatane (god of gardens)

– Tangaroa (god of the sea)

– Haumiatiketike (god of wild food)

1. Bishop’s illustrations use traditional Maori symbols to represent the gods. After reading, look back through the illustrations and identify where he has used different kinds of koru, spirals, tiki figures and faces to represent the gods.

2. Search online for images of these Maori gods. Some good examples are given in the Resources section of this plan. Notice the different ways the gods can be represented and the materials the artists have used to create their artworks.

3. Identify the 8 gods and discuss how each god could be represented in a piece of art. For example, what images could be incorporated into an image of Tawhirimatea so that the audience will know he is the god of wind? Ask the children to sketch some ideas down on paper using pencil or crayon.

  • At Level 1, this could be done as a whole class
  • Children working at Levels 2 and 3 could go away and create some sketches on their own, using examples from the images they have just seen, or using their own ideas. Encourage students to use Maori symbols in their sketches, as used by Gavin Bishop and many of the other artists.

4. Share sketches and discuss reasons for use of particular lines and shapes.

5. In small groups, students work together to create a piece of art which represents one of the gods. Use A2 (or larger) sized paper. Sketch first and then fill in using paint techniques. Figures could be in a traditional Maori style, or more contemporary, but once again, encourage students to use Maori lines and symbols to represent their god.

  • Children working at Level 2 and 3 could include a description of their god to go with their artwork. Research online or in books to find out more about their chosen god.
Materials
  • images of Maori gods
  • paper and pencils
  • large A2 sized paper
  • acrylic paint
Resources Images of the gods:

  • Papatuanuku and Ranginui (paint). Retrieved from

http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/te-ngahere-forest-lore/7/1

  • Ranginui and Papatuanuku (paint). Retrieved from

http://www.wicked.org.nz/r/maori/nga_pakiwaitara/img/rangi-papa-1.jpg

  • Tawhirimatea/ Tangaroa/ Tumateunga /Rongomatane (print). Retrieved from

http://nemp.otago.ac.nz/listen_view/2002/viewing/maorigods.htm

  • Tane Mahuta’s Triumph, by Jane Crisp (paint). Retrieved from

http://www.artfind.co.nz/artwork/taneupclose

Taking it further
  • Create a piece of art work which incorporates all of the gods (Visual Art)
  • Use printmaking techniques to create a traditional Maori image of a god (see examples) (Visual Art)
  • Explore other Maori myths and illustrate (English/ Visual Art)
Curriculum Links The Arts

Visual Art

  • share ideas about how and why their own and others’ works are made and their purpose, value and context (Level 1 & 2)
  • explore a variety of materials and tools and discover elements and selected principles (Level 1 & 2)
  • investigate visual ideas in response to a variety of motivations, observation, and imagination (Level 1)
  • share the ideas, feelings and stories communicated by their own and others’ objects and images (Level 1 & 2)
  • investigate and develop visual ideas in response to a variety of motivations, observation and imagination (Level 2)
  • investigate the purpose of objects and images from past and present cultures and identify the contexts in which they were or are made, viewed and valued (Level 3)
  • 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’ works (Level 3)
  • describe the ideas their own and others’ objects and images communicate (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above This activity could be done at any level. Students working at higher levels would be expected to develop and refine their work to an increasingly high standard. They should make deliberate choices about how they choose to represent their god using Maori symbols and lines. They should investigate the significance of traditional Maori lines and symbols in existing art, and what they represent. In this way they will develop a deeper understanding of the messages presented in their own and others’ art works.
Links to other books in NZPBC Battle of the mountains – this book contains art work which also uses traditional Maori symbols and lines
Activity 2: RESEARCHING HABITATS – FOREST AND SEA (Science)

The battle of the birds

NZC Curriculum Level 1, 2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • relating to others
Activity In this story, the reader meets birds of the coast and of the forest.

1. After reading, establish that these are the habitats that these birds live in. Clarify what is meant by a habitat.

2. Create 2 lists on the board – sea and forest. Look through the book again and list the birds found in each habitat. Give the English translation for each bird name:

Kawau

black shag

Koekoea

long tailed cuckoo

Tiwakawaka

fantail

Ruru

morepork/ native owl

Titi

mutton bird

Taiko

black petrel

Tui

parson bird

Talk about why these birds live in these particular places – how their habitat best meets their needs.

For example, forest kawau catches and eats eels, sea kawau eats salt water fish. This example is given in the story. What other reasons might there be for these birds living in their particular habitat?

3. Ask children what other wildlife lives in these habitats? Discuss and add these to the lists you already have.

  • At Level 1, focus on sea and forest. At Levels 2 and 3, students could choose to find out about other habitats. Ask children: are these the only habitats there are? What other habitats do creatures live in? List these also, with examples for each

For example, under the sea, jungle, Arctic and Antarctic, forest floor, swamp.

4. RESEARCH: In pairs or small groups, children choose a habitat they are going to investigate.

Use books or research online to find out

– what creatures live in their chosen habitat

– reasons for why they might live there.

5. Students could present their findings in a variety of ways:

  • oral report
  • poster
  • slideshow
  • written project
Materials
  • information books
  • internet access
  • paper
  • computers (if creating a slideshow)
Curriculum Links Science

Living World

Life processes

  • recognise that all living things have certain requirements so that 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)

Ecology

  • recognise that living things are suited to a 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)
Applications for Level 4 and above At Levels 4 and above, students should be able to describe in more detail how living things are suited to their particular habitat and how they respond to environmental changes, such as pollution, global warming, etc… At Level 5 and above, they should begin to investigate the interdependence of living things in an ecosystem. At Level 7 and above, students should explore ecological distribution patterns and explain possible causes for these patterns.
Links to other books in NZPBC A booming in the night – characters in the book are native wildlife from the sea and swamp
Activity 3: RETELLING (The Arts)

Kae and the whale

NZC Curriculum Level 1 & 2

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • relating to others
  • participating and contributing
Activity Establish that Gavin Bishop (the author) didn’t make up this story. It is an ancient Maori myth which has been passed down over many generations. In this book, he is retelling the story in his own words.

In this activity, children will work in groups to create a play which retells the story of ‘Kae and the whale’.

1. After reading the story a few times, identify as a class

  • the characters
  • the main parts of the story

Write or draw these up where everyone can see them.

2. With a partner, children practice oral retelling. Share some as a class.

This will help to get the story engrained and start children thinking about how they might begin structuring a play.

3. In groups, children work to create their own retelling play.

  • If time, they may like to make masks and costumes for their performances – cloaks and skirts in the traditional Maori style.

4. Practise and perform the plays to an audience. Reflect on performances. At Level 2 students should discuss which elements of drama were effective in the retelling, and give reasons why.

Taking it further
  • Video record performances (Technology)
  • Try adding lighting and sound effects for a more polished performance (Technology)
  • Find other Maori myths to retell using oral storytelling or through drama. See links to other NZPBC books (English/ The Arts)
Curriculum Links The Arts

Drama

  • demonstrate an awareness that drama serves a variety of purposes in their lives and in their communities (Level 1)
  • 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)
  • identify and describe how drama serves a variety of purposes in their lives and their communities (Level 2)
  • explore and use elements of drama for different purposes (Level 2)
  • develop and sustain ideas in drama, based on personal experience and imagination (Level 2)
  • share drama through informal presentation and respond to elements of drama in their own and others’ work (Level 2)
Applications for Level 3 and above At Level 3 and above, students should investigate the functions and purposes of drama in cultural and historical contexts. They can explore the performance of Maori myths in the greater community. At Level 4 and above, students can begin to introduce the use of technologies to develop drama practice. In responding to others’ performances, they will identify ways in which the performances of others show meaning. At Level 5 and above, they will research, critically evaluate and refine their ideas about dramatic expression.
Links to other books in NZPBC Battle of the mountains – Maori myth

Activity 4: ILLUSTRATION (The Arts)

Hinemoa and Tutanekai

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
Activity After reading, children may enjoy ‘being illustrators’ and illustrating a part of the story.

1. Look back through the illustrations and talk about how Gavin Bishop has used the following:

  • colour (for example, how does he show that it’s night and day?
  • line (how has he included detail?)
  • materials used (watercolour/ dye and black pencil/ charcoal lines)

Talk about the effectiveness of his illustrations.

  • At Level 3, students should explore the work of other artists as well. See the Resources section of this plan for some examples. Ask students:

– Which part of the story is represented in the art work?

– What materials have been used?

– What colours/ lines/ styles have been used by the artist?

– How are these other works similar/ different to Bishop’s?

2. Identify the main parts of the story. Record these on the board.

3. When all main parts have been identified, children can work in pairs or groups to illustrate a part of the story. Use an art technique that you have been working on in class to create the illustration. It might be

  • crayon and dye
  • watercolour or acrylic paint
  • printmaking
  • pencil sketches

4. When finished, share and discuss art works. Talk about reasons for choices made about colour, line and materials used. Can the other students identify the part of the story that has been represented in the illustration?

Materials
  • examples of other artwork which represents Hinemoa and Tutanekai
  • paper
  • pencils, crayons, paint, printmaking tools
Resources
Curriculum Links The Arts

Visual Art

  • share ideas about how and why their own and others’ works are made and their purpose, value and context (Level 1 & 2)
  • explore a variety of materials and tools and discover elements and selected principles (Level 1 & 2)
  • investigate visual ideas in response to a variety of motivations, observation, and imagination (Level 1)
  • share the ideas, feelings and stories communicated by their own and others’ objects and images (Level 1 & 2)
  • investigate and develop visual ideas in response to a variety of motivations, observation and imagination (Level 2)
  • investigate the purpose of objects and images from past and present cultures and identify the contexts in which they were or are made, viewed and valued (Level 3)
  • 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’ works (Level 3)
  • describe the ideas their own and others’ objects and images communicate (Level 3)