Little River School

TŌTARA - Years 4, 5 & 6

Tōtara 2024

February, 2024

For the last 3 weeks, a lot of things have happened.

Week 2 we went down to the stream and tested our river water to see if it was clean. We went back to class and found some invertebrates in the water. We put them back after we had seen what they were.

Week 3 on Monday and Tuesday we went to visit Harold and learnt about making good decisions and 2 days later we got some books from the mobile library.

By Ngarimu Coleman

The holidays have flown by, first thing you know it’s Christmas and now school has come to say “HI!”

We have had lots of things going on already, like getting new chickens, water testing (and it turns out that our stream is very healthy), Harold came to teach us about making good decisions, mobile library, people coming and going - see you term 3 Kai. And now we have Banks Peninsula swimming sports.

So far things have been great and I bet things are going to get even better.

By Isla Simpson


Tōtara Challenge Term1 2024 accomplished! This term we set ourselves a challenge to cumulatively (and as a class) run from LRS to Invercargill by the end of the term through our 'Daily Km' running; a mission of 587km! This week we exceeded our goal, reaching the southernmost city of our planet and, as we discovered, the home of The World's Fastest Indian with 2.5 weeks up our sleeve! Along the way we've checked out a few highlights of the places we've ticked off along the east coast. Today, in Invercargill, we took a look at Southland's magnificent velodrome and the most beautiful water tower you can imagine. We often speak of the idea of 'walking over the highest mountain one step at a time' with reading, maths and writing. The same applies to our daily fitness. Roll on Queenstown!


Another busy term beckons - to be capped by “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” our school's production this year.

Learning around this will include some design and technology for prop and scene making, literature and the arts development. Our Year 4’s will join Kānuka as Oompa Loopmas and the majority of the rest of the class will be children in the Candy Store and squirrels. 

Maths sees us learning to tell the time - analogue, digital, 24 hour clock, reading timetables. We are also tackling harder addition and subtraction using strategies to help us simplify. The eagerly contested Multiplication Mastery is in full swing with children wanting to be the first to master their times tables.

We have enjoyed learning about Microbes, utilising the House of Science resources. Building bacteria, viruses, fungi, algae and protozoa with playdough. Using “Glitterbug potion” and UV lights to see how well we wash our hands and many other activities.

Our own cross country (since the BP one has been cancelled) is on Friday and for the keen runners the Lincoln Zone cross country is coming up on the 6 June.


It has been a very busy term, culminating in our fantastic performances of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Tōtara class would like to thank Ms Pannett for all her dedicated hard work. It has been a great team effort and thank you to everyone who helped out. Helen Pickles for leading the hair and make-up team, Grace McFarlane and Miraim Appleby (and Lorna!) for helping to get the Oompa Loompas looking fabulous, Claire for her sewing skills (no animals were harmed in the production of squirrel costumes) and all the crew that worked on the props. Jax was great on the music too. We really liked going to The Gaiety and having a real theatre to perform in. 

The children loved meeting trampolinist, Maddie Davidson (part of the Olympic ambassador programme) when she came and spoke to the school. She was a very inspirational and entertaining speaker. We wish her all the best in Paris! 

Astronomy and Matariki has been a focus of our learning of late. We used Oreos to help us learn the phases of the moon (see photos).

We would also like to thank Edible Canterbury and The Richmond Community Garden for donating a fig tree which we have planted in the Domain in the Tōtara/ Community Orchard…Di Cameron and Anna Lopas

Orana Wildlife Park visit - November 2023

Totara 2023

Feb - Our composite class of 22 is made up of 9 year 4 children, 7 year 5 and 6 year 6 children.

We have made a great start to the year and have lots to look forward to this term with Banks Peninsula swimming and the Little River School triathlon coming up. Our school wide theme this year is “CHANGE.”

The class has been studying “Te Tiriti O Waitangi” and also exploring how the world and the things living in it have changed over time. In maths, we are nailing our basic facts and learning all about measurement - length, weight, height, temperature.

April - Wow, term 1 is over already and we have all been very busy - children, teachers and parents! What a wonderful community day it was at the pumpkin festival. The school is so appreciative of all the hard work so many people put into this. The children love this day. They have so much fun, working in vertical groups, designing and building their scarecrows, practising for their Kapa Haka performance and attending the day. Thank you all. In class the children have been presenting the learning they have been doing around Te Tiriti o Waitangi, The Treaty of Waitangi, and the 3 P’s of the treaty in education - Partnership, participation and protection. In our “Land Before Time” topic, the children have been researching dinosaurs and making diorama’s to show the habitat, adaptations, prey and predators of their chosen dinosaur. Tōtara class would like to thank Mr Couper for all he has done for Little River School and to wish him all the best for his next adventure.

June - A few weeks ago we had Shayne from St Johns in to teach first aid to the class. There was an emphasis on first aid “in the outdoors.” The children learnt how to use any cell phone to ring for help, how to place a patient in the stable side or recovery position, and looking at a tramping scenario with cold and wet weather. Thinking about what you should pack, decisions that needed to be made and managing hypothermia.

"Last Friday we attended the Banks Peninsula cross country at Duvauchelle. It was a cold day. The wind was howling, the trees were shaking, kids were shivering. After a bit of time the races started. Kids lined up. Children and parents from different schools were ready. Kids were running, some going all out, others sticking to an easy pace. Lap after lap, race after race, lots of kids puffing while their hearts beat rapidly. After racing kids gathered around the table where the food was put!” By Maria Coleman 

If anyone had any lego they would like to donate to school it would be gratefully accepted. We would like to start a Lego club!

August - Along with the other classes, topics to be covered this term will include the Keeping Ourselves Safe programme, which we will teach in conjunction with the Police Education Officer, and Relationships and Sexuality Education. In Maths we are exploring statistics, statistical investigations, interpreting and displaying data through graphs. Also, we will be looking at Multiplication and Division. Helping your child to become confident with their times tables this term at home would be a great help in them working towards their Multiplication Mastery Challenge. 

In addition to our routine phonics reading/writing programme, in Literacy we will also be investigating the skills of speech writing and the presenting of speeches to the class. The top 2 speeches from each age group will present their speeches in the finals to the whole school. The Lincoln Zone and Banks Peninsula Schools’ Winter Tournaments are coming up and we will be preparing for these in PE. We are also learning the skills of volleyball.

September - A very busy few weeks has been capped off with the Banks Peninsula schools' winter tournament in Akaroa on Tuesday. Our thanks to the AAS senior students for their organisation of the tournament, as part of their NCEA.

Jarod - “I had lots of fun playing my first ever game of netball.”

Niamh - “It was a good event and we had a great score of 20-2 when we versed Akaroa!”

Sean - “It was fun playing football and having time with the children from the other schools.”

To share our learning about species that have become extinct in New Zealand we are creating some board games.

We have been creating some beautiful spring art - daffodils and spring blossom - looking at using different mediums.

December - Last week Tōtara had 3 awesome days on camp at Living Springs. 

We learnt a new form of dodgeball called GaGa Ball, it was fantastic fun! ‘By Ollie

The mono rail made me scream, but in a good way!’ By Maria

‘The bouldering wall was challenging and rewarding.’ By Brayden

The animal survival game was epic, especially when the flood, disease and hunter joined the chase.’ By Reuben B

And the food was GREAT.’ By all of us!

…Anna Lopas & Di Cameron