Activity for ‘The Pipi Swing’

The Pipi Swing

by Sarona Aiono-Iosefa

Set in New Zealand, this story tells of a 12-year-old girl and her special relationship with her grandparents. As a way of coming to terms with her father’s death several years back, her Gran and Gramps tell her they are going to take her out dancing, to learn the “pipi swing”. Although reluctant at first, the girl discovers that the “pipi swing” is her grandparents’ term for digging for pipi to eat. She also discovers that this is a way they remember her father, having done the same thing many times with him as a child. This book was nominated because it is a sophisticated picture book which could be used with older children. The illustrations are appealing and it is thought children would enjoy seeing “brown faces” like theirs in a book. It was also nominated because it discusses topics that many Pacific Island children will relate to.

Activity: FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS: A Special Person

 (English/ Health & Physical Education)

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


 1. Read the story with the children. After reading, talk about the girl in the story and the special relationships she has with the people in her family – her mother, her grandparents and her father (who has passed away). Ask:

  • Who is special to her?
  • How do we know?
  • What special things does she do to show she cares for the people in her family?
  • Does she enjoy spending time with the people in her family? What special things does she enjoy doing with them?

2. Encourage the children to think about one special person in their family… it might be a parent, a grandparent, aunty or uncle, brother, sister or cousin.

  • Can you think of a person in your family who is special to you?
  • Why are they special to you?
  • Do you enjoy doing some special things together? What things?
  • What do you do to show this person that they are special to you?
  • What do they do to show that you are special to them?

3. Take children through a visualization, so that they are able to bring up a very clear, vivid memory of one special time with their family member (like the girl’s “pipi swing” experience with her grandparents):

 I want you to think of one really special time that you had with this person in your family. Just one time. Where are you? What are you doing? How old are you? What are you saying to each other? How are you feeling at this time? Is anyone else there?

Children may wish to share their memory with a buddy, or with the class. Being able to share their thoughts will help them to organise their ideas for writing.

  • At Level 1, children could draw a picture of their memory
  • At Level 2, children could create a written plan of their memory, trying to get all of the detail down that they can.

4. This could lead on to writing about their special family memory. Children could write about what happened and how they felt at the time.

The children’s writing could be published and put together in a class book, if appropriate, for children to look back over.


  • paper, pens, pencils for writing

Curriculum Links

 EnglishListening, 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)

Speaking, Writing and Presenting

  • form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 1)
  • select, form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 2)

Health & Physical Education

Personal Health & Physical Development

Personal Identity

  • describe themselves in relation to a range of contexts (Level 1)
  • identify personal qualities that contribute to a sense of self-worth (Level 2)

Relationships with Other People


  • explore and share ideas about relationships with other people (Level 1)
  • identify and demonstrate ways of maintaining and enhancing relationships between individuals and within groups (Level 2)

Interpersonal Skills

  • express their own ideas, needs, wants and feelings clearly and listen to those of other people (Level 2)
  • express their ideas, needs, wants and feelings appropriately and listen sensitively to other people and affirm them (Level 2)

Links to other PPBC books

Tulevai and the Sea by Joy CowleyA Quilt for Kiri by Don Long

Selafina by Catherine Hannken

Fiapule by Catherine Hannken

Talia by Catherine Hannken

Papa’s Donuts by Lino Nelisi

Papa’s Jandals by Lino Nelisi

Turtle Songs: A Tale for Mothers and Daughters by Margaret Olivia Wolfson

– all of these books describe close family relationships.

Other Ideas

  • talking and writing about death/ losing a loved one (English)