Activity for ‘The Magic Seashell’

The Magic Seashell

by Makerita Urale

This is a Pacific Island fairy tale about a shell which brings together two long-lost lovers, who have been torn apart during a storm years ago. Masina, living alone on a deserted island finds a most beautiful shell, which becomes her most precious possession. She is devastated when she loses this shell during a vicious storm, which lasts for days and tears apart her island home. When the shell falls into the hands of two small children on another island, the events that follow reunite Masina with her long -ost love, Old Fetu. The story has been illustrated beautifully by Samuel Sakaria using bold lines of Pacific images such as tapa and woven designs, palm trees and shells.

This book was nominated because of its beautiful illustration.

Activity: ILLUSTRATION (The Arts)

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


This story has been beautifully illustrated by Samuel Sakaria using traditional panels featuring symbols of the Pacific – see pages 8,9,14, 18 and 19. Children could use Sakaria’s illustration as inspiration for their own Pacific panel artwork using bright oil pastel colours.1. Enjoy reading the story together.

2. After reading, look through the book again and discuss the illustrations. Stop at each panel and talk about how it has been put together, using symbols of the Pacific.

3. Ask: what do we mean by “symbols of the Pacific”?

Images/ pictures of things which represent the Pacific Islands.

4. Tell children: let’s look through these panels and write down all the symbols we can see.

If you have several copies of the book, this could be done in pairs or small groups. Encourage children to draw the symbols in Sakaria’s style, as well as write down what they are.

Notice symbols like: weaving patterns, traditional log drum, flower and leaf shapes and guitar-type instruments. Notice also that spaces are filled in with zig zag designs and diamond shapes coloured with 2 colours.

5. Look back through the other illustrations and talk about other Pasifika symbols which could also be used in a panel.

For example: shells, palm trees, waves, fish, turtle.

6. Allow children lots of time to practice drawing these images. Make shapes large and bold, with lots of zig zag lines, just as Samuel Sakaria has done.

7. When they have had lots of time to practice, give students a long piece of paper, so that they can start planning their own panel. Keep shapes large, and use pencil, so changes can be easily made. Encourage children to “place” 3 or 4 large symbols first, and then use zig zag and diamond shapes to fill in the empty spaces.

8. When students are happy with their designs, they can begin to add colour using bright oil pastels.

  • At Levels 2 and 3, students could have a go at using the pastels to shade darker and lighter, to enhance their designs.


  • oil pastels
  • pencils for sketching
  • lots of scrap paper, as well as good quality paper for final product

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)
  • share the ideas, feelings, and stories communicated by their own and others’ objects and images (Level 1 & 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’ works (Level 3)
  • describe the ideas taht their own and others’ objects and images communicate (Level 3)


Links to other books in the PPBC

The Wooden Fish by Tim TipeneTurtle Songs: A Tale for Mothers and Daughters by Margaret Olivia Wolfson

Legends of the Cook Islands by Shona Hopkins

Maui and the Nose Flute by Sione Tu’itahi

Tangaroa’s Gift by Mere Whaanga-Schollum

Two Cans of Corned Beef and a Manulele in a Mango Tree by Sarona Aiono-Iosefa

A Quilt for Kiri by Don Long

Sina and Tinilau by Vilsoni Hereniko

– all of the books feature illustrations which show patterns and symbols of the Pacific.

Other Ideas

  • Choose a part of the story to illustrate. Use David Shannon’s style as inspiration (Level 3), or use other techniques learned in class (Visual Art)
  • Retell the story using Drama (Drama)