Activity for ‘My School Bag: O La`u `Ato Ā`oga’

My School Bag: O La`u `Ato Ā`oga

by Tolo Pereira

Illustrated beautifully using bright, simple illustrations, this book takes the reader through an every-day experience of packing their school bag with Mummy. The use of simple, repetitive language makes this an ideal book for beginner readers and pre-schoolers. The story has a wee twist at the end, when Mummy does not notice the young boy slipping his favourite toy into his bag as well!

The text is given in both Samoan and English.

This book was nominated for its large, glossy presentation and because it presents Samoan language and culture in a very accessible way, as well as providing a bilingual text which children can easily relate to.

Activity: LANGUAGES OF THE PACIFIC (Learning Languages)

Curriculum Level 1 (see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies

  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • participating and contributing
  • relating to others


 The text in this story is written in both Samoan and English, so provides an excellent resource for use in supporting the learning of a new language. It could also be used very effectively with young bilingual learners.1. Invite older children or adults from the community, who are able to read and speak in Samoan. You may even have students in the class who are able to read and speak Samoan – and are willing to do so in front of the class. Ask them to come and read the story and talk about the ideas presented in it.

2. After reading, talk about the Samoan words and ask children if they recognized any of them. Share and discuss.

3. Look at the Samoan text – it is very repetitive. Notice with the children that the following appears on almost every page:

“E tu’u I ai e lo’u tinā …”

Look then at the sentences in English. What words are the same on almost every page?

“ My mummy packs…”

Establish that this must be what these words translate as.

4. Ask students if they can identify which Samoan text might be for

  • sunscreen
  • spare clothes
  • reading book
  • food
  • drink bottle

Your Samoan speaking visitor may be able to help with this, as well as introduce some new vocabulary for other things which might be found in the children’s school bags, for example lunch boxes, jacket, pencils.

Because interaction is an important aspect of language learning, create an interaction task using this new Samoan vocabulary:

Children could make up their own cards to use to play memory or snap. Include pictures and words on each card. This will help them to learn and remember the new vocabulary.

5. Ask the visitor to choose a short passage from the story. Have the words of this passage so that they are visible to all students, and have them learn how to read this passage, using correct pronunciation. Children could go away and practice with a buddy, then “perform” the passage to the class and visitor.


Curriculum Links Learning Languages Proficiency Descriptor

  • students can understand and use familiar expressions and everyday vocabulary (Level 1 & 2)


Selecting and using language, symbols and texts to communicate

  • understand and produce information and ideas (Level 1, 2 & 3)

Participating and contributing in communities

  • use cultural knowledge to communicate appropriately (Level 1, 2 & 3)

Language Knowledge

  • recognise and describe ways in which the target language is organized (Level 1 & 2)
  • compare and contrast languages (Level 1, 2 & 3)

Cultural Knowledge

  • recognise and describe ways in which the target culture(s) is/ are organized (Level 1 & 2)
  • compare and contrast cultural practices (Level 1, 2 & 3)

Links to other books in the PPBC

Watercress Tuna and the Children of Champion Street by Patricia GraceKa’akapera Tikai by Lino Nelisi

Tane Steals the Show by Lino Nelisi

Sione’s Talo by Lino Nelisi

My Preschool, When I go to Church by Tolo Pereira

Upside-down Face by Lemalu Ros Afamasaga

O Le Fa’aipoipoga by Emma Kruse Vaai

The Woven Flax Kete by Angie Belcher

O Le Aso S Pa’eoa’e by Saron Aiono-Iosefa

– all of these books are available in dual or multi language versions, to support bilingual and new language learners.

Other ideas

  • Use the repetitive sentences in the story as a model for children’s own writing about what they pack in their own school bags (English)