Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Creating Home: A Program on Developing a Sense of Home Grounded in Faith for Grades K-1

Activity 4: Story - Owen And Mzee

Part of Creating Home

Activity time: 10 minutes

Tapestry of Faith, Creating Home, Session 7 JPEG illustration for Owen and Mzee

"Owen and Mzee" (PDF)

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Obtain an illustrated book about Owen, a baby hippopotamus rescued after a tsunami, and Mzee, the giant tortoise Owen "adopted" as his parent in a Kenyan wildlife refuge. The Leader Resources section suggests several books.
  • Print out the story, "Owen and Mzee."
  • Optional: If you cannot obtain a book, set up a computer with internet access in your meeting space. The Leader Resources section provides URLs for websites with good visual representations of the story. You can show images of Owen and Mzee while you tell the version of their story provided in the story, "Owen and Mzee." Or, show the group a website that provides the entire story.
  • Optional: Print the coloring sheet and copy for all participants. Place coloring sheets and crayons where children can use them when invited but will not be distracted beforehand.

Description of Activity

Gather the group in a circle. Using a book, website, and/or printed story ("Owen and Mzee"), or any combination, tell the children about Owen and Mzee. In this story, children will hear about two animals who established a family home in an unusual way.

Invite the children to play the same memory game they played in Activity 3: Memory Game, but with a twist. Remind the children that before, they matched pictures that looked the same. Now, challenge them to think of connections between unlike pictures. You may say,

Now that you have heard about Mzee and Owen, you can make some connections that are not about being exactly alike. You can see the connections between everyone and everything involved. We are all connected to each other in ways that sometimes we don't even know.

Spread out the cards so all can see them. Ask for a volunteer to find two pictures that are not the same, but can go together because they are connected by something in the story.

You may need to prompt with an example: Stephen Tuei and Paula Kahumbu both have jobs where they help the animals at Haller Park, so they could be a match. Owen could be a match with Mzee, the fishing net, or the ocean where he was stranded. The map of Kenya could be matched with any other card, since the story occurred in Kenya.

Allow as many children as possible to contribute their ideas. As long as a child can articulate the connection he/she understands, there are no wrong answers.

Including All Participants

Offer children the opportunity to color the illustration provided for “Owen and Mzee” to engage different learning styles and to help children focus on or relate to the story. A coloring activity can be a "preview" of a story. It can work as a quiet activity to help children physically settle. You might use it afterward to help the group recall and respond to the story.