Activity for ‘When I go to Church: Pe’ā ‘ou alu i le Lotu’

When I go to Church: Pe’ā ‘ou alu i le Lotu

by Tolo Pereira

 Illustrated beautifully using bright, simple images, this book tells the reader about what it is like when a young Samoan girl goes to church each week. The language is simple and repetitive, making it ideal for children learning to read, as well as pre-schoolers. The text is provided in both English and Samoan.

This book was nominated for its large, glossy presentation and because it promotes the language of Samoa. It was also nominated because it presents Samoan culture in a very accessible way, and because children can easily relate to the ideas in the book.

Activity: LANGUAGES OF THE PACIFIC (Learning Languages)

Curriculum Level 1 (and preschool level)(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 have students in the class who are able to read and speak Samoan – and are willing to do so in front of the class (they may not be!). Ask them to come and read the story (in both English and Samoan) and talk about the ideas presented in it.

Children should be encouraged to make connections between the little girls’ experiences in the book, and any of their own experiences they may have of going to church

  • At preschool level, use the pictures to develop opportunities to talk about colours, shapes, counting objects etc…

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

“ Pe’ā ‘ou alu I le lotu …”

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

“ When I go to church…”

Establish that this must be what these words translate as.

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

  • dress (ofu)
  • Bible (Tusi Pa’ia)
  • prayer (tatalo)
  • Jesus (Iesu)
  • songs (pese)
  • meal/ cooking (kuka)

4. Because interaction is an important aspect of language learning, involve children in the following interaction task:

The child in the story is telling about a special thing that they do with their family each week.

Ask children to think of something special they do with their family each week – it may also be going to church, or it may be something else, such as getting the groceries, visiting Grandma, going to the park.

Ask children to draw a picture of this event. With the support of your Samoan-speaking visitor, teach students how to say and write in Samoan some of the things in their picture. They can label these things and practice saying the words in Samoan.

They can then share their pictures with other children in the class, telling them what is in the picture, using the Samoan words.

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 Grace

Ka’akapera Tikai by Lino Nelisi

Tane Steals the Show by Lino Nelisi

Sione’s Talo by Lino Nelisi

My School Bag, My preschool 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 story as a model for children’s own writing about what happens at their own church / place of worship (English)
  • If you have any students who come into your classroom speaking Samoan as a first language, invite their parent in to work with them in class (Language Learning)