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Possible learning experiences for years 7-8

Understanding Change and Loss

Possible Learning Activities

  • Divide the class into small groups and allocate each group one of the scenarios below. The groups each discuss their scenario and identify, describe, and record the possible changes and losses experienced by people in the scenario. Each group shares their scenario and their recorded ideas with the class. Summarise key ideas on the board.
  • Students could identify similarities and differences between the scenarios below. They can then consider the diversity of change and loss situations. Draw attention to any differences in key ideas suggested by groups or individuals.
  • Instead of using the scenarios below, students could discuss any stories that deal with similar issues (see the resource lists). For example, the story of the separation of Ranginui and Papatuanuku provides an opportunity to explore change and loss in the context of a Māori legend. (See “The Story of Papa and Rangi”, School Journal, Part 1 Number 5, 1994.)
  • Some of the scenarios below are about transitions, for example, numbers 1, 2, 10, and 11. The students will probably have already made transitions in their own lives, for example, either from early childhood education to primary school or from primary to intermediate school. They may soon be making another transition from primary or intermediate to secondary school. Ask students to identify the losses and gains in relationships that they experience when they make these kinds of transitions (4C1).
  1. Aisha and some members of her family have recently arrived in New Zealand, having left their home country because of war. Aisha is eleven years old and has learned some English since she arrived.
  2. Hìria’s parents have decided to move their family closer to her grandparents, who live a long way away.
  3. The new art and technology block at Jerome’s school has been destroyed by fire. The students had just set up an exhibition of their work for the official opening of the block.
  4. Jack has run away from home because his mum and dad have decided to separate. Jack wanted to stay with his dad all the time rather than live in two houses.
  5. Ana’s seven-year-old brother has died of cancer.
  6. Ruby and her family were in a car accident. Everyone survived the accident, but Ruby’s leg was badly injured. She has been left with a limp.
  7. Tyson has an illness that means he spends a lot of time in hospital having treatment. The hospital is a long way from where he lives.
  8. Tom has been swimming competitively since he was eight. For the past two years, he has been training intensively in the hope of getting into the national team. On the day for final selection, he had an upset stomach and missed his opportunity to get into the team.
  9. Chris’s local community has been devastated by a big flood. Many homes were ruined.
  10. Grace’s parents are now earning more money and have moved to a bigger house on the other side of town. This means that Grace has had to change schools.
  11. Rāwiri is at the same school but is in a different room from all his last year’s classmates.
  12. Kiran’s favourite teacher is leaving the school after teaching Kiran for a long time.


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.

Socio-ecological Perspective

Reflecting on the effects of change on people’s lives.

Suggested Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • identify and reflect on change, disappointment, and loss as factors that affect well-being (3A1)
  • identify the gains and losses that changes in people’s lives bring about in relationships (4C1).

Teachers’ Notes

  • Scenarios are used in these activities so that students can explore issues without having to discuss their own experiences. The scenarios offer a range of situations, which can widen the scope of the exercise. You may want to change the names in the scenarios.
  • A word of caution: make sure that the scenarios used in these activities are not too close to the experiences of any students in the class.
  • Most students attending school in New Zealand will experience a transition from primary to intermediate or from primary to secondary school. This can be a very stressful time as they leave behind the familiarity of their school, friends, and teachers and enter a new stage of their life. They will experience losses and gains. Even when young people have learned a lot about what is likely to happen, they can still grieve for what they will be leaving behind. However, being prepared for these changes can help them to understand better what they are feeling and experiencing.

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