Thematic Statement

Unit Goals

Learning Center

Lesson Plans








           The learning center is intended to be displayed and used throughout the entire unit on New Zealand.  This center consists of three different activities in an aim to stimulate students’ creativity and increase interest on the topic.  The object to attract interest is a kiwi bird.  We chose the kiwi bird to represent our study of New Zealand because it is an animal that it native to New Zealand. You cannot find a kiwi bird anywhere else. The kiwi bird has a large body, a small head, a long beak, and short legs. The kiwi bird cannot fly and because of this and other of its unique characteristics, it is considered to be “an honorary mammal” to the people of New Zealand. This is because it has more in common with mammals than it does with birds.

            This bird is two balloons, one the size of a softball and one the size of a basketball, covered in Paper Mache.  Once the bird has dried, we painted over the Paper Mache a dark brown color.  Once the paint dried, we tacked on a construction paper beak and painted that with the same brown paint.  We then collected sticks from outside and placed them in a box lid to resemble a nest. 

            The focal point of the learning center is a tri-fold poster board used to display our three learning center activities.  The header of our board and the title of our unit is “Be the Kiwi.” There are a few reasons for this. First of all, kiwi birds are very prevalent in New Zealand culture and society. However, this is not the only reason. Because these birds are so important to the people, New Zealanders often refer to themselves as kiwis. Therefore, the idea of “being the kiwi” does not mean that we are encouraging the students to become like a bird. What we are saying is that students should think of themselves as actually being a citizen of New Zealand while taking part in this unit. We will give them a “tour of New Zealand.” We are encouraging our students to walk in the shoes of a New Zealand native.  There are a variety of red and blue stars surrounding the header as well as on the edge of the board to resemble the New Zealand flag.  On the bottom of the board is two pictures of the New Zealand flag as well. 

            On the left-hand column of the tri-fold activity board is the activity “Be The Writer.”  In this activity the students are given the chance to be a New Zealand journalist.  The students are asked to pick a current event in New Zealand and write a newspaper article about the topic.  On the center column of the tri-fold activity board is the activity “Be The Travel Agent.”  In this activity the students are given the chance to plan a trip to the wonderful county of New Zealand.  They are expected to plan each day of the three week trip.  They are asked to say what they would do, where they would go, and what type of people they will see while on their trip.  The students are also expected to find or draw pictures of the trip.  The travel magazines and trade books in front of the learning center can help students with ideas.  On the right-hand column of the tri-fold activity board is the activity “Be The Artist.”  In this activity the students are given the chance to decorate a plate and have a souvenir to take home from their trip to New Zealand.  First give the students a plate to decorate.  Let them find pictures of New Zealand to cut out from the travel magazines.  Once they have arranged the pictures in an orderly fashion, let them glue the pictures to the plate.  Once the entire plate is covered, have the students place a thin layer of glue over all of the pictures.  Now they students have a souvenir to take home from New Zealand.  In front of the tri-fold board is an example of a completed plate.

            There are a few trade books that are found around the learning center. Two of these trade books give just general information about New Zealand. They both focus on the location of the country, the people living in the country, and the New Zealand culture. Memory, another book in our learning center is written by the popular New Zealand author, Margaret Mahy. She has written over one hundred books and lives in New Zealand. The other book, A Rumour of Otters, is a story that is set in the hills of New Zealand. We also included the movie Whale Rider in our learning center because it is the novel that we are going to focus on in the language arts portion of the unit.  Students should be encouraged to read some of the books that the learning center has to offer.  The trade books can help the students as they participate in the three learning center activities.