The Kuia and the Spider Activities

The kuia and the spider

written by Patricia Grace

illustrated by Robyn Kahukiwa

published by Puffin, 1983

An old kuia (grandmother) continually fights with a spider living in her house, about whose weaving is the best. The kuia weaves mats for sleeping on, and baskets and kits for collecting kaimoana, kumara and coffee in. The spider weaves to collect food, as well as provide a safe place for his grandchildren to sleep. When both the kuia and the spider’s grandchildren come to stay, they agree that the children will decide for them whose weaving is the best, however instead of this, the reader gets an insight into the purpose and necessity of both types of weaving. In this book, Grace shows the reader the importance of inter-generational bonds, and the importance of elders teaching traditions to their young. The illustrations support this idea and clearly show New Zealand themes – flax mats and kete, beach  and marae scenes and kowhaiwhai designs.

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: WEAVING (The Arts/ Technology)
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 the story we see some great examples of how woven flax is used in everyday life:

kete (baskets) to carry coffee, kumara, seafood and shopping, and to give away as gifts

mats to sit and sleep on

1. Look carefully at some flax mats and baskets. Ask the children:

  • What are these mats and baskets made of?
  • Have you ever seen them used before? Where / how did you see them used? Maybe you have some of your own at home?
  • Why do you think they are made of flax?

Establish that flax is used because it is a strong material that is readily available. Establish that weaving flax is a tradition that Maori have been doing for hundreds of years – before plastic or fabric was available. When it is woven like this it become especially strong, this is why it is still used today.

2. Children can explore and develop their own weaving techniques. They could collect and dry their own flax for weaving or, if this is not available, used strips of coloured paper.

Remember that when collecting flax, a short karakia (prayer) of thanks must be said before cutting. Always cut from the outside first and only take as much as you need, not more.

  • At Level 1, children will learn the rhythm of going under and over to create a small woven mat. Give them a base of paper which has strips cut almost to the end and they can use coloured paper strips to weave through this base – A4 is a good size to learn on. Staple, glue or sellotape the ends so they are secure.
  • At Level 2, students can weave using smaller strips to create a mat. They could turn the mat into a basic kete by folding the mat in half and stapling, glueing or sellotaping up the side and making a handle.
  • At Level 3, students would enjoy the challenge of dyeing flax and creating more complex designs in their weaving. These would make great wall hangings.
Materials
  • Items woven from flax – kete, mats, etc…
  • Flax OR long paper strips
  • Dye (Level 3)
Taking it further
  • Level 3 students may be able to explore how to weave a kete in the traditional style (Visual Art/ Technology)
  • Level 3 students could find out more about the history and development of flax weaving in New Zealand. This website provides a good starting point:

http://maaori.com/misc/raranga.htm (Social Science)

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)
  • 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)

Technology

Technological products

  • understand that technological products are made from materials that have performance properties (Level 1)
  • understand that there is a relationship between a material used and its performance properties in a technological product (Level 2)
  • understand the relationship between the materials used and their performance properties in technological products (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above At Level 4, students can begin to explore how materials can be manipulated and transformed to enhance the fitness of purpose – for example, how could a flax kete become waterproof? (Technology). At Level 7, students should research and analyse the influence of relevant contexts on their own weaving work (Visual Art). At Level 8, students should investigate contexts, meanings, intentions and technological influences related to the making and valuing of flax weaving (Visual Art).

Activity 2: BORROWED MAORI WORDS (English)
NZ 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
Activity This story uses a lot of Maori vocabulary, which some children may not be familiar with.

1. After the first reading, read again and list the Maori words used in the story. Look at how they are used in context and ask the children:

  • Have you ever seen or heard this Maori word before?
  • Where did you see/ hear it?
  • Do you know what it means?
  • Maybe we could use sense clues to help us. Let’s read the other words… now what would make sense there? What might this word mean?

Discuss ideas about each word’s meaning.

2. When all Maori words have been identified and discussed, show children the glossary at the back of the book.

  • What is a glossary?
  • How does it work?
  • How can it help us with the Maori words in this book?

Use the glossary to check word meanings.

3. Children could go on to create a glossary of Maori words that they know. Use the new learning from this book, as well as their own prior knowledge and shared knowledge within the class.

4. Share glossaries and create a combined class glossary which would be displayed in the classroom, and added to each time a new word is learnt.

Taking it further This book has a te reo version: ‘Te Kuia me te Pungawerewere’. You could invite a fluent Maori speaker/ reader to read this book to the class. On each page, ask students to identify familiar words, then look at how sentences have been constructed around these known words (Learning Languages)
Curriculum Links English

Listening, Reading and Viewing

  • recognise and identify ideas within and across texts (Level 1)
  • recognise and begin to understand how language features are used for effect within and across texts (Level 1)
  • show some understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts (Level 2)
  • show some understanding of how language features are used for effect within and across texts (Level 2)
Applications for Level 4 and above At Levels 3 and 4, children can begin to construct simple texts using their knowledge of the Maori language. They could begin to write their own stories using Maori vocabulary. This activity could also be done at Levels 5 and 6, using more complex language.
Links to other books in NZPBC Haere: Farewell, Jack, farewell

Kimi and the watermelon

The whale rider

– these books all use Maori language

Activity 3: GRANDPARENTS (English)
NZ 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
Description In the story, the kuia has a very positive and strong relationship with her mokopuna (grandchildren). They enjoy spending time together, doing things that they enjoy.

1. After the first reading, ask the children:

  • Does the kuia enjoy having her grandchildren to stay?
  • How do we know that she enjoys it?

Look back through the illustrations and list all of the things that tell us she likes her grandchildren being there: they visit every second Saturday, lots of hugs and kisses, they sleep next to each other, they collect kumara and play on the beach together.

2. Ask the children about their own relationships with their grandparents. If they don’t have a grandparent to write about, it could be another family member or close family friend (someone who is like a grandparent to them).

  • Do you have a grandparent that you like spending time with?
  • Why are they special to you? Why do you like being with them?
  • What things do you like to do together?

Talk with a partner about your grandparent and share some thoughts as a class.

3. Tell the children that they are going to plan and write a story about their grandparent. Begin by planning

  • At Level 1, this could remain oral. Some children may draw pictures to help them plan their story, or write down some key words.
  • At Level 2, children will want to write down key words and organize their ideas into paragraphs as part of their planning.

4. When children feel that they are planned, begin writing. They may take their work through to editing and publishing.

Published stories could be collated in a class book called ‘Grandparents’.

Taking it further
  • Invite grandparents in for a shared morning tea and read the stories to them (English/ Health)
  • Write about other special people – parents, brothers and sisters, friends… (English)
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)
  • select, form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 2)