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Africa :: A Homeschool Unit Study
Africa :: The People & Geography
In the summer of 2010, my next door neighbor and I teamed up to create a Geography Co-cop, selecting Africa as our first destination. We spent several weeks inundating ourselves into the culture of the diverse continent - exploring the food, music, art, and language. This lens provides an outline for the activities and lessons that took part in over the course of the summer.
Co-op Organization & Overview
My neighbor is a retired teacher and the grandparent of two girls the same age as my children. This summer we are venturing on a journey through the continent of Africa together ... team-teaching a variety of lessons to engage our kids in the culture and geography of Africa.
We will meet three mornings a week for approximately 90 minutes. In that time, we will do a variety of activities that will incorporate the art, language, music, science and history of Africa. Each day, the children will also journal about what they learned each day in illustrations and words.
Africa Lessons & Printables
- Africa Geography
A great site that not only provides a brief description of the geography of Africa but also provides links for further exploration.
- Homeschool Creations Africa Lesson Plans and Resources
Lesson plans and ideas for teaching children about Africa. Includes the countries of Eygypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania. Notebooking pages for flags and also country maps as well as book recommendations and links/resources.
Week 1 :: The Continent
Getting Started - The Geography of the Continent
This first week, our focus was to introduce the kids to the 7 continents, assuring they were able to locate each on a globe and printed map. We also discussed the overall geography of the continent of Africa - emphasizing the three main ecosystems in Africa (savannas, deserts, and rain forests). While the kids worked in their journals or between activities, we also introduced the kids to African music.
From Algeria to Zimbabwe, Africa is a land of diversity and beauty. The resource information and student activities in this book provide an introduction to Africa's rich cultural heritage. Each of the five geographic regions of Africa is explored along with African climate, vegetation, wildlife, literature, arts, and music.
Activities for Week One
- Overview of the 7 Continents
- Practiced identifying Africa on the globe & on a printed map
- Shared what we know about Africa and what questions we have
- Salt Dough Map of the African Continent
- Put together a floor puzzle of the world, identifying the continents as we did so
- Drew map of the continent showing the three major ecosystems (Savannah, Desert & Rainforest)
- Listened & danced to the song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
Africa Geography Links
- Africa for Kids :: Geography
A brief synopsis of the African continent as well as links to more indepth information.
Week 2 :: Northern Africa
Week 2 :: Northern Africa
This week our focus was on the Northern countries of Africa. Ultimately, we wanted the kids to become familiar with the cultural diversity and to become familiar with some of the foods in this region.
Activities for Week Two
- Read aloud a book on the Sahara
- Read about the Tuarag of the Sahara
- Began a flip-book of the cultural diversity of Africa
- Prepared and enjoyed the national dish of Algeria, Saffron & Raisin Couscous
- Illustrated on a map the cultural regions of a variety of ethnic groups in Northern Africa (shown in the picture above)
- Discussed differences between soils (potting soil/dirt, clay, and sand) and took part in a soil erosion experiment. Described in more detail below.
- Prepared Carthagenian Flank Steak & Chickpea Tagine, a North African dish, for a family dinner
Soil Erosion Experiment
North African Cooking
Saffron & Raisin Couscous with Fresh Mint - National Dish of Algeria
1 1/2 cup water
3/8 teaspoon saffron threads
3/4 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup couscous
1/4 cup raisins
2 1/4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1) In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the saffron. Remove from the heat, cover, and let
stand for 30 minutes.
2) Return the pan to the heat, bring to a boil, and mix in the olive oil, salt, couscous, and raisins.
Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes.
3) Using a fork and your fingertips, fluff the couscous to separate the grains. Taste and adjust the
seasonings. Stir in the mint. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Carthagenian Flank Steak & Chick Pea Tagine - North African Dish
CARTHAGENIAN FLANK STEAK
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1/4 cup fresh oregano
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
Salt and pepper
1 (2-pound) flank steak
In a large glass bowl or ziplock bag, combine all the ingredients. Score the flank steak and place in the marinade. Marinate at least 20 minutes and up to overnight.
Heat a grill or grill pan. Remove the flank steak from the bag and pat dry. Grill 4 to 5 minutes per side. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before carving.
AROMATIC CHICK PEA TAGINE
2 Pounds Chick Peas -- Soaked Overnight
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Saffron
1/4 Teaspoon Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
3 Large Tomatoes -- Chopped
1 Large Red Onion -- Grated
1 Bunch Cilantro -- Chopped
1 Bunch Parsley -- Chopped
Salt And Pepper -- To Taste
Hot Sauce -- To Taste
Cook chickpeas until tender, drain. Heat oil in saucepan, stir in spices and cook 1 minute; add remaining ingredients including chickpeas, cover simmer 15 minutes. Serves 4
More North African Recipes - Dishes to delight all tastes
Week 3 :: Western Africa
Week 3 :: Western Africa
In week three, we moved to Western Africa and began to explore more indepthly, the music and the instruments of the continent. Additionally, we began to incorporate more folktales and literature into our studies.
Activities for Week Three
- Language Arts - Read aloud Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears
- Language Arts - Discussed "vivid verbs" and onomatopoeia
- Art - Illustrated an animal of Africa and did a watercolor wash in a style similar to Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears
- Geography - Identified the countries of Western Africa on a map
- Music - Listened to numerous songs from West Africa from the Putumayo CDs we'd borrowed from our library (shown below).
- Cooking - Prepared and enjoyed fried plantains
- Created a mini-book to illustrate the variety of homes (reliance on natural materials)
- Painted in a naïve style (example shown below)
Naïve Style Painting
Explore the Music of Africa
African Inspired Instruments - Inspire your kids with instruments from around the world
Week 4 :: Eastern Africa
Activities for Week Four
- Created an animal mosaic
- Read aloud "Bimwilli and the Zimwi" by Verna Aardema (a tale from Zanibar) and "Mama Panya's Pancakes" by Mary and Richard Chamberlin
- Read aloud "Savannahs" by Precious McKenzie; "Living in the African Savannah" by Nicola Barber, and "Count Your Way Through Kenya" by James Haskins, Kathleen Benson and Lyne Leveque
- Created an ABC Book of Africa for our lapbooks
- Beaded necklaces and bracelets in the Maasi style using beads handmade by African women
- Cooking :: Sweet Red Beans and Sesame Cookies
African Folktales & Literature
- African Folk Tales
Deep in the Bush, Where People Rarely Ever Go - A collection of African folk tales compiled by Philip Martin
Great Books About Africa for Children
Traveling to Africa
What country in Africa do you most desire to see?
Week 5 :: Southern Africa
Week 5 :: Southern Africa
This week, we traveled south and were introduced to Nelson Mandela.
Activities for Week 5
- Cooking :: Millet Patties
- Read Aloud "Count Your Way Through South Africa" by
- Put together lapbooks using the mini-books we had made along the way
- Shared our country reports we had worked on throughout the summer
More Great Africa Resources
- The Beaded Gourd - Its History, Construction and Technique
The shekere is a handmade rattle. It consists of a hollow gourd or calabash, covered on the outside with a net of seeds, beads, shells, or any available material. Although its origins are West African, today it is found in the Americas and Caribbean
- Africa Activity Packs - Wow, so many!!
These Free Printable Activity Books are suitable for pre-K3 children (age 3 yrs to 7 yrs ), but can be adapted for younger or older children. Every section in this site has free printables and activity books in addition to these on this page. Enjoy
I hope you've enjoyed our journey through Africa, please leave a note and let me know how I might be able to improve this lens. If you have suggestions for links I should include, please direct me to them.