Activity for ‘Grandad’


    by Janet Pereira

This story tells of a young Maori girl who is coming to terms with the death of her beloved Grandad. She tells of the things that make her Grandad special, and of how she struggles to accept the idea of him getting older and becoming more and more sick and frail. When he eventually dies, the story beautifully interweaves the responses of Maori, Pacific Island and Pakeha into the grieving process, as different family members find different ways to express their beliefs and traditions.

A story about love and loss, which has been exquisitely illustrated by Bruce Potter. His watercolour images show clearly the emotion in the faces of Grandad’s grieving family.

This book was nominated because it represents multicultural New Zealand.

Activity: LOSING A LOVED ONE (English)

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
  • managing self
  • participating and contributing


1.     Read the story with the children. After reading, establish that the narrator is a young girl whose Grandad has just died.Ask:

  • How might the girl have been feeling? How do we know this?

The illustrations show a lot of emotion.

  • Discuss the illustrations, in particular, the emotion on the faces of Grandad’s family after he has passed away.
  • Identify what happens in the story after Grandad has died:
  • they keep him at the house with the family for a night
  • then the undertaker takes him away to be washed, dressed and embalmed
  • Gran chooses some clothes for him to wear
  • he came back to the house and stayed in his bed for 5 days – everyone came and talked around   his bedside
  • they put Grandad in a coffin and had a funeral for him at the church
  • Uncle Dave and Taare honoured Grandad with a haka
  • Dad and Uncle Dave sat by Grandad’s coffin to “keep him company”
  • Grandad’s body was cremated at the cemetery
  • his ashes were buried in the ground

2. Discuss how sad it is when we lose someone we really love. Ask:

  • What things happened in the story that helped the little girl to come to terms with losing her Grandad?

Children may talk about things like: seeing and being able to talk to him, picking flowers to put beside his bed, helping to scatter his ashes, crying, choosing clothes for him to wear… etc.

3. Encourage the children to share their own thoughts about losing a loved person or pet. Some may have already experienced this, some may not have.

  • What did you do when your loved one died?
  • Was it like in the story? Or different?
  • How did you feel?

4. This could lead on to writing about losing a loved person or pet. Children could write about what happened and how they felt at the time. How did others feel and act? What helped you to change the way you were feeling? How do you remember that person or pet now?

  • If children do not have a memory of their own, they could recount the story of the young girl in Grandad.

5. The children’s writing could be published and put together in a class book, if appropriate, for children to look back over. They will see that everyone grieves the loss of a loved one in different ways – both culturally and personally.

Taking it further

  • The back of this book contains information about how death is dealt with in different cultures around the world. At Levels 2 and 3, children could explore the different procedures, traditions and protocols associated with death (Social Sciences)


  • paper and pens for writing (optional)

Links to other books in PPBC

The Pipi Swing by Sarona Aiono-Iosefa

A Quilt for Kiriby Don Long

– both of these books deal with the death of a close family member

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

Speaking, Writing and Presenting

  • Speaking and writing 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)

Other Ideas

  • Talking and writing about a special person (English)
  • Illustrating a part of the story, in the beautiful water colour style of Bruce Potter (Visual Art)
  • Painting a portrait of children’s own special person (Visual Art)