Activity for ‘Upside-down Face (Ulu ū l Lalo)’

Upside-down Face (Ulu ū l Lalo)

by Lemalu Ros. Afamasaga

Available in both English and Samoan translations, this story tells of how Simi and Susi find and help a baby bat on their way to preschool. The book is beautifully illustrated using images from the Pacific – flax woven mats and hibiscus flowers.

This book was nominated for the collection because, although it is a simple story, it accurately illustrates what life is like for children in Samoa.

Activity: LANGUAGES OF THE PACIFIC (Learning Languages)

Curriculum Level 1, 2 & 3 (see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies

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


 This story is available in two language versions, both English and Samoan. It provides an excellent starting point for learning a new language.

1. Begin by reading the story in English. Talk about the ideas presented and invite children to share about what life might be like for children in Samoa. Make a list of the children’s  perceived similarities and differences between their own lives, and those of children living in Samoa.

2. 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.Ask them to come and read the Samoan language version of the story, and talk about life for children in Samoa. Encourage them to talk about the pictures as they read, so that children can follow the ideas in the story, even if they do not understand the words.

3. After reading, ask the children if they recognized any of the words they heard in the story. They may have identified some of the more common words, such as talofa, and the children’s names.

4. Ask the visitor to teach the children some animal names in Samaon.

Because interaction is an important aspect of language learning, children can create their own booklets to share with each other. On each page, draw a different animal and write the Samoan name for each. Practice saying the animal names as they share their booklets with others in the class.

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.


  • both language versions of Upside-down Face
  • parents/ older students or adults who can speak Sāmoan

Taking it further

 As part of the Language Knowledge strand of Learning Languages, students are required to “compare and contrast” languages. If you are focusing on more than one Pacific Island language, students could be involved in identifying aspects of different languages which are similar or different to each other.
Curriculum Links Learning Languages Proficiency Descriptor

  • students can understand and use familiar expressions and everyday vocabulary (Level 1 & 2)
  • students can understand and construct simple texts using their knowledge of the target language (Level 3)


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 School Bag, My Preschool, When I go to Church by Tolo Pereira

O Le Fa’aipoipoga by Emma Kruse Vaai

O Le Aso S Pa’epa’e by Sarona Aiono-Iosefa

The Woven Flax Kete by Angie Belcher

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

Other ideas

  • Samoan wildlife study / native bush study (Science)