The Terrible Taniwha of Timberditch Activities

The terrible taniwha of Timberditch

written by Joy Cowley

illustrated by Rodney McRae

published by Puffin, 2009

Josephine wants to play at Timberditch lake, but her dad warns her of the taniwha there. Her mum says there is no such thing as a taniwha, so Josephine sets off to set a taniwha trap and find out for herself. As she collects what she needs to make a taniwha trap, Josephine meets New Zealander’s with different heritages. Each person tells Josephine about a mythical creature which exists in their own country of heritage. As well as reflecting the multicultural nature of New Zealand, the illustrations show clear images of New Zealand landscapes – the lake, with mountains in the background, punga and ferns and insect life. And the taniwha illustration at the end of the book is a visual symphony.

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: WHAT WOULD A TANIWHA LOOK LIKE? (The Arts/ English)
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 terrible taniwha of Timberditch’ we are told about the taniwha, however it is not until the very end that we get to actually see the illustrator’s perception of what the taniwha looks like.

The purpose of this activity is for children to take the information provided in the text, and then use their own ideas and imaginations to create their own taniwha image – in picture and descriptive writing.

1.     Read the story with the children, up to the description:

“…the taniwha was there, all right, crouched at the bottom of the hole. The rising sun shone on it and it glowed with all the colours that belonged to Timberditch. It was green like the forest, white like the mountains, and dark blue like the water of the lake. It was red like the ladybirds, yellow like the butterflies and brown as the shell of a snail.”

2.  After reading this page, STOP. Have the text blown up somewhere for the children to refer back to. Level 2/3 children could have their own copy. Identify that this is a description of a taniwha. This excerpt can be used as the starter for a language or a visual art activity:

Language: Identify the similes that have been used in the description. Identify the verbs also – in the story we read of it ‘crouching’ and then ‘opening its mouth’. Brainstorm a list of verbs which might be useful in writing a description of the taniwha. Children can write their own taniwha description – some may be able to use similes, and verbs to describe movement as well.

Visual Art: ask the children to sketch what they think the taniwha looks like. Share ideas and allow children time to talk about their drawings.

These sketches could be turned into artwork. Use an art technique you have already been using in class:

  • Pastels
  • Paint
  • Printmaking
  • Crayon and dye
  • “Borrow” a technique from an artist you have been studying (Level 3)
Materials
  • text excerpt blown up
  • paper
  • paint, felts, crayons, pencils, dye, printing materials
Taking it further
  • Establish with children that this is just one description of what a taniwha looks like – and there are plenty more. At Level 1, children could compare and contrast a range of images of taniwha in art. At Level 2 and above, children may do their own online or journal searching for taniwha images –which one is ‘right’? How would we know? (English)
  • Create a debate around the topic: Are taniwha real? Search for evidence to support the argument for or against (English)
Curriculum Links The Arts

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)

English

  • recognise and identify ideas within and across texts (Level 1)
  • form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 1)
  • show some understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts (Level 2)
  • select, form and communicate ideas on a range of topics (Level 2)
  • show a developing understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts (Level 3)
  • select, form and communicate ideas on a range of topics (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above Visual Art: At higher levels, students should be able to apply known techniques to create a skilled piece of artwork. They will need to revisit (Level 4); generate, develop and refine (Level 5) and clarify their ideas and techniques (Level 6) as they work.

English: Beyond Level 3, students need to be encouraged to look deeper into the text, making inferences and considering reasons for why they taniwha has been presented in such a way.

  • Is it a positive or negative image?
  • Why would this be?
  • Why do you think the author would want us to think this?

Compare and contrast with other writing and images of taniwha.

Links to other books in NZPBC Taming the taniwha – in this book the concept of ‘taniwha’ is used metaphorically


Activity 2: TANIWHA TRAP (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
  • participating and contributing
Activity In the story, Josephine creates a basic trap to catch a taniwha:

“ Josephine took the spade, apple and the ball of string to the shore of Timberditch. She dug a deep hole in the earth and covered it with grass. Above the hole she tied the apple onto a hanging fern frond. “That should do the trick,” she said.”

1.Discuss and analyse Josephine’s trap. It was very simple.

  • Is it a good trap? Why/ why not?
  • Is is a successful trap? (Yes, because she managed to catch the taniwha)

2.Discuss other ways the Josephine might be able to trap the taniwha. At Level 2 and 3, children should be able to identify the attributes that the trap needs to have in order to be successful. In groups, children work to design their own traps.

  • At Level 1, this may be a simple drawing. Share designs and suggest resources and materials that could be used.
  • At Level 2, students could add labels to their plan, to show how the trap works, as well as list resources and materials needed.
  • At Level 3, students should be able to provide a detailed description of how the trap works, as well as evaluate their ideas, using the feedback of others.
Materials
  • Examples of other traps
  • Paper
  • Pens, pencils
Taking it further
  • Using books and online search engines, research different kinds of traps and their various purposes. Identify those which are humane/ inhumane, and why this may be important (Health/ Social Science)
Curriculum Links Technology

Technological Practice

  • outline a general plan to support the development of an outcome, identifying appropriate steps and resources (Level 1)
  • describe the outcome they are developing and identify the attributes it should have, taking account of the need or opportunity and the resources available (Level 1)
  • develop a plan that identifies the key stages and the resources required to complete the outcome (Level 2)
  • explain the outcome they are developing and describe the attributes it should have, taking account of the need or opportunity and the resources available (Level 2)
  • describe the nature of an intended outcome, explaining how it addresses the need or opportunity. Describe the key attributes that enable development and evaluation of an outcome (Level 3)

Characteristics of technology

  • understand that technology is purposeful intervention through design (Level 1)
  • understand that technology both reflects and changes society and the environment and increases people’s capability (Level 2)
  • understand…that technological knowledge is validated by successful function (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above At Level 4 and beyond, students are expected to be able to justify the nature of an intended outcome. Students are also expected to use a variety of planning tools and be able to select the best one for the purpose. Students may choose to use a computer program such as Photoshop Adobe, Illustrator or Spore to design their plan.
Links to other books in NZPBC Tahi, one lucky kiwi – the kiwi is caught in a trap.

Activity 3: MYTHICAL CREATURES (Social Science/ English)
NZ 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 the story, we find out about mythical creatures which exist in other cultures:

  • Mr Mackie talks about Scotland’s Loch Ness monster
  • Mr Chen talks about the Chinese dragon from China
  • Mr Papadoupolos talks about the Greek gorgons from Greece
  • Mrs Johnson talks about Norway’s trolls.

This is an important story because it shows New Zealand as a multi cultural society. It also tells us that, although we are all New Zealanders, our different cultural heritages are still important to us.

1. Have children identify these countries on a world map, as well as New Zealand. At Level 1, this could be done as a class. At Levels 2 and 3, students could work independently or in groups.

2. In groups, children choose a mythical creature to research. Search online, as well as in reference books and libraries to find out information about the creature. At Level 3, children may go further and find out about other mythical creatures in other countries which they could research.

3. Presenting:

  • Early Level 1 children can draw and write a story about their creature
  • Later Level 1 children could present as a poster – they will need support to select and layout the necessary information
  • Levels 2 and 3 students can present information in a detailed poster.

First, decide which information is important and needs to go on the poster. Then draft a layout which includes:

– catchy heading

– effective border

– illustrations and/ or labelled diagrams

– captions

– information sections, presented in a way that is clear and easy to read.

Share stories and posters. Reinforce the idea that different cultures have different traditions and they are all important to the people of that culture. Reinforce the understanding that New Zealand is a multicultural society.

Materials
  • World map
  • Internet access
  • Information books
  • Paper
  • Felt pens, pencils, pens
Taking it further Students could build on the idea that New Zealand is a multicultural society. They could be involved in interviewing people at school or in the community about their cultural heritage (Social Science).
Curriculum Links Social Science

  • understand how belonging to groups is important to people (Level 1)
  • understand how the past is important to people (Level 1)
  • understand how the cultures of people in New Zealand are expressed in their daily lives (Level 1)
  • understand how cultural practices reflect and express people’s customs, traditions and values (Level 2)
  • understand how people remember and record the past in different ways (Level 3)
  • understand how the movement of people affects cultural diversity and interaction in New Zealand (Level 3)
  • understand how cultural practices vary but reflect similar purposes (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

  • recognise how to shape texts for a purpose and an audience (Level 1)
  • show some understanding of how to shape texts for different purposes and audiences (Level 2)
  • show a developing understanding of how to shape texts for different purposes and audiences (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above
  • This poster activity could be taken further at higher levels. Students could create more complex posters, or may create documentary style video recordings – thus incorporating technology also (Technology)
  • Students could investigate further about how perceptions of mythical creatures has changed over time. Did more people used to believe taniwha’s (or other mythical creatures) really exist? Why is this? What has changed?