Activity for ‘Living with Aunt Sasa’e: A family in Western Samoa’

Living with Aunt Sasa’e: A family in Western Samoa

by Hélène Tremblay

Part of the “Families of the World” series, this non- fiction book tells the reader about what life is like for families living in Western Samoa. Vivid colour photographs provide the reader with “real life” images of Saoman living. The story is told through the eyes of Sesilia, an 11 year old girl. She talks about her village, her extended family, clothing, and her daily routine in Western Samoa. She also describes early morning prayers and the family’s housing, chores, food and some of the local wildlife.

This book was nominated because it includes photos, and describes a day in the life of a Samoan family.


 (Social Sciences)

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


 This book is packed with information about what daily life is like in Western Samoa. It shows that life for children is very different from that of a child living in New Zealand.1. Before reading the story, create a “daily timeline” with children. List:

  • what they do through the day
  • what they eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, etc
  • what they do with their leisure time

At Level 1, this would most likely be done as a whole class.

At Level 2, students could work individually or in pairs to create a daily timeline.

2. Introduce the story, and tell the children to think about things that are the same or different about their own lives compared with Sesilia’s in the story.

3. Read together, stopping to comment on aspects of Sesilia’s day that children find particularly interesting.

At Level 2, children may jot down notes on a piece of paper as you read.

4. After reading, ask:

  • do you think Sesilia’s life in Western Samoa is very different from your own?

Why/ why not?

Create a timeline of Cecilia’s day – include details such as what she eats for meals, and what she does with her leisure time.

At Level 2, children could be given copies of the book, and work together in small groups to construct their own time lines, which could then be shared as a class.

5. Compare Sesilia’s day with the children’s own timelines.

Create a table with 2 headings:

Growing up in Western Samoa and New Zealand





At Level 1, children can discuss with a buddy and may be able to add their ideas to a class chart.

At Level 2, children could work in a think/ pair/ share situation – begin by creating their own table, then sharing with a partner, and finally sharing with the whole class.

6. Children should see that, yes, Sesilia’s day is very different from their own in many ways – sleeping on the floor, getting up so early, living with 14 people, no school, working on the family land etc…

  • Note also that this may not be different for some children in your class!

However, children should also recognise many similarities between Sesilia’s life and their own – needing to eat, playtime – swimming and listening to the radio, trying not to giggle when Grandfather sings out of tune.

Hopefully they will be able to connect with and appreciate aspects of Sesilia’s life in Western Samoa.


  • large sheets of paper for chart-making
  • felts
  • multiple copies of Living with Aunt Sasa’e (at Level 2)

Curriculum Links

Social Sciences

  • understand how belonging to groups is important for people (Level 1)
  • understand that people have different roles and responsibilities as part of their participation in groups (Level 1)
  • understand that people have social, cultural and economic roles, rights and responsibilities (Level 2)
  • understand how cultural practices reflect and express people’s customs, traditions and values (Level 2)
  • understand how places influence people and people influence places (Level 2)

Other Ideas

  • Students could each choose a Pacific Island to research and present a project or talk about (Social Sciences)
  • Locate other books in the ‘Families of the World’ series, and use these as a starting point to find out more about what it is like to live in other parts of the world (Social Sciences/ English)