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Possible learning experiences for years 1-3

Understanding change and loss

Possible Learning Activities

  • Introduce the concept of change to students by showing them some examples from the natural world with which they are familiar. These could be a flower and a seedhead from the same plant (a dandelion is a good choice), a moth or butterfly chrysalis and a caterpillar, or a piece of sheep’s wool and a length of spun yarn. Students can discuss how each form has a useful part to play but has to change for the next to come into being. Change involves losing the old and gaining something new. Make a list on the board of other examples from nature that students can think of and, with each, ask questions such as “What old thing is gone?” “What new thing has it become?” “What has it lost?” “What has it gained?”

Students can draw or paint something they know from the natural world that changes from one form into another and contribute it to a wallchart headed “Things Change.”

  • In small groups, using photographs and pictures of people at different stages of their lives, students could discuss how people change, both physically and in the things they can now or can no longer do. Include pictures of small babies, toddlers, preschoolers, school-age students, young adults, and old people. Students could then make pictures to show how they themselves have changed and write a sentence or paragraph about what they have lost and gained during the changes that growing up brings and how these changes feel (2A1). These can be fastened to a wallchart headed “People Change Too.”
  • Students could bring family photographs from as far back as they have them and mount them in an exhibition. This is a great starting point for discussions about changes in fashions and behaviours and about the losses and gains that come with change.


Contributing to their own mental and emotional well-being/taha hinengaro and their own spiritual well-being/taha wairua by developing an understanding of what change and loss mean.

Suggested Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • ask questions about change and loss (1A1)
  • describe how, at different stages of their growth and development, changes involving gains and losses take place (2A1).

Assessment Opportunity

Students describe some changes, losses, and gains that take place at different stages of their growth and development (2A1).

Teachers’ Notes

  • Try to develop students’ understanding that things are always changing in the world and that, in the process, there are losses and gains. Some students may at times, for instance, have wished that they were still small, like a younger brother or sister. You could talk about how they have lost the opportunity to go for rides on Dad’s back in a backpack or sleep in a pram but that they have now gained the independence needed to ride a bike or do something alone.
  • Students need to understand that loss is very common and that it can mean losing things, as Dogger was lost (in Dogger by Shirley Hughes), or else losing people and animals, for example, losing friends when they change schools, losing their family unity when parents split up (as in Two Homes for David by Jillian Sullivan), or losing a pet or a relative through death.

Understanding the feelings of grief
Coping with disappointment, loss, and grief
Helping others who are grieving
Building a supportive environment