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People of Africa Places in Africa lesson plan
Grade level: 3-5 Subject: Geography Duration: Three class periods
sections
Objectives | Materials | Procedures | Adaptations | Discussion Questions | Evaluation | Extensions | Suggested Readings | Links | Vocabulary | Academic Standards | Credit
people of africa lesson plan - print version

Objectives
 



lesson plan support

Students will understand the following:
1. When leaving the United States to visit another continent—such as Africa—travelers need to do research and to prepare themselves for differences, from climates to customs.
2. All communities have distinctive features.
3. People of Africa have reasons for dressing the way they do.
Materials

For this lesson, you will need:
Information about how to contact embassies and consulates of African nations
Print and online reference materials about different regions of Africa
Computer with Internet access
Procedures

1. Tell your students that you and they are going to plan a pretend class trip to an area in Africa. Depending on how far you’ve gone in your study of the continent, give students the chance to vote, from among the following locales, on the one area in Africa they would most like to visit:
  • The banks of the Nile River, somewhere along its length from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean Sea
  • The grasslands, inhabited by elephants, zebras, antelopes, lions, and cheetahs
  • Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
  • The Sahara Desert
  • Areas of Kenya or Gabon on the equator
2. Ask the students to help you list all the kinds of arrangements that they must make before leaving home if they want to have a successful and satisfying trip to this one area of Africa. The goal is to encourage students to realize that they must consider at least the following issues:
  1. Transportation
  2. Accommodations
  3. Itinerary and packing
  4. Language and customs
Once the preceding—and possibly other—topics are listed, let students volunteer for or assign them to committees that will focus on each topic.
3. While students work in small groups, you may use the time to locate someone in the school community who has actually traveled to the part of Africa under investigation. If you can find such a person, invite him or her to share stories and photos or videos with your students after they have done their own research, as outlined in the next step.
4. Each committee of students should then brainstorm specific questions needing answers before the trip begins. Each committee should select one or more students to do research on each question. Discuss with students what resources they can use to find answers: travel agents, books and magazines for tourists, Web sites, the embassy or consulate of the country or countries being visited.
 
Here are sample questions each committee might decide to consider:
 
TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE
  • How will the class travel from home to this part of Africa?
  • How far away is this part of Africa, and how long will it take to get there?
  • How will the class get around once in this part of Africa?
  • How much will transportation cost?
  • What documents will students need to leave the United States, enter an African country, and then return to the United States?
ACCOMMODATION COMMITTEE
  • What kinds of accommodations are available—hotels? campgrounds? people’s homes? youth hostels?
  • How much will accommodations cost?
  • How can the students make reservations?
ITINERARY AND PACKING COMMITTEE
  • What sights do students want to see in this area?
  • How many days or weeks will students need to see these sights?
  • What kinds of clothes should students pack, given the African climate and what they plan to do there?
  • Besides clothes, what else should students pack?
LANGUAGE AND CUSTOMS
  • In order to be goodwill ambassadors for the United States, what should student visitors know about the African people they are going to visit? That is, do the people who live in this part of Africa have customs that visitors should know about in advance?
  • Do the students have any customs that might surprise or offend the Africans? What can the students do to make sure they don’t upset or annoy their hosts?
  • What should students know about their hosts’ languages, foods, and religions before traveling to this part of Africa?
5. The students on each committee should discuss among themselves what they learned from their research. The students should work together to plan a brief oral presentation of their findings and their recommendations. They should write up notes and select visual aids if possible. One student might act as spokesperson to present the notes and visual aids to the rest of the class. Make sure the spokesperson has an opportunity to practice by doing at least one dry run and getting feedback from the other students on the committee.
6. Give each spokesperson a chance to make a brief oral presentation. The audience should have an opportunity to ask questions of the spokesperson and the other members of his or her committee.
7. If you have located someone in the school community who has traveled to the part of Africa your class has researched, this would be a good time for him or her to visit the class, share stories and souvenirs, and answer questions the students might have.
8. Each committee should write a group thank-you note to a guest after his or her visit to the class.
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Adaptations

Limit the project to discussing with students how to get to a region in Africa and what kinds of clothes to pack. Encourage students to tell you what they would like to learn about children whom they might meet in Africa and what they would like to tell those children about their lives in the United States of America.
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Discussion Questions

1. If you could visit a part of Africa, would you choose a river like the Nile River, a mountain like Mt. Kilimanjaro, or the grasslands where the large animals live? Have the class list the positive and negative reasons for visiting these areas. Divide the class into three groups and have each group take an area. Have a discussion allowing each group to convince the others to visit its area.
2. Imagine yourself in the middle of the Sahara Desert in the summer. Make webs of words describing sights (barren land, cloudless sky, scorching sun), feelings (thirsty, hot, tired, lonely), sounds (wind, night animals, shifting sand), fears (desperation, starvation, animals). Discuss what animals and products you would need to survive in the desert. What animals and weather conditions would be dangers to you?
3. Drums and string instruments are used in many cultures. Discuss the types of instruments used in your region of the country. Invite musicians from your community to share their talents in playing traditional music for your class.
4. Imagine yourself living a nomadic life. Discuss ways in which your life would change from what it is now. Make sure to include limited amount of material goods, schools, health care, neighbors, friends, transportation, jobs, etc.
5. Modern technology and the growth of cities have affected the life of many tribes in Africa. Explain how the tribes have been affected, what adaptations they are making, and how their lifestyle may be forced to change due to the increase in cities and decrease in open areas.
6. Pretend you are going to build your home along the Nile River. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of living there.
7. Debate whether or not the way the jobs are divided among the men and women of the Nile is fair.
8. Many people along the Nile live the same way their ancestors did. How would you go about modernizing this culture if the people were receptive to the idea?
9. Re-watch the video and make a list of all the support jobs needed to make this film in addition to the producer, writer, and camerapersons. Compare the jobs in your school to the jobs in making a film. Who has similar job responsibilities?
10. Discuss how the composer figures out the music to go with the film. Watch some other nature videos and listen to the background music that creates excitement, drama, and humor. Experiment with musical instruments for creating background music for animal movements.
11. The filmmaker, Hugo Van Lawick, stated that he hopes that people will learn to appreciate the nature of the Serengeti and work for conservation of that area. Discuss what kinds of population and pollution problems could be affecting this area. Discuss and research laws that are being passed to protect this refuge. Compare it to a wildlife area near your school or community that needs protection and preservation.
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Evaluation

You can evaluate each committee by using the following three-point rubric:
  • Three points:clearly organized and articulately presented substantive answers to committee’s questions; well-explained visual aids; coherent, error-free thank-you note to class guest
  • Two points:adequately organized and presented substantive answers to committee’s questions; visual aids not totally connected to oral presentation; coherent thank-you note, with minimal errors, to class guest
  • One point:poorly organized and inarticulate, incomplete oral answers to committee’s questions; missing or poorly explained visual aids; thank-you note lacking coherence and containing many errors
You can ask your students to contribute to the assessment rubric by determining the minimum number of questions each oral presentation should take up.
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Extensions

Places in Africa with Distinction
In your study of Africa, you will no doubt cover distinctive, or special, geographical features of the continent—such as the Great Rift Valley. Just as parts of Africa have distinctive geographical features, so do the places where you and your students live. Elicit from students what features are distinctive in their region. Is there a special body of water? A special park? Special plants or animals? Make a list of what your class considers distinctive about your region, and help the class to create, for a hall or class display, a mural of the places and things mentioned.

The Latest Fashion
Show students pictures of all the different kinds of clothes children, men, and women wear throughout the continent of Africa. Use the pictures to initiate a class discussion in which you can ask questions such as the following:
  1. Why do you think people in Africa wear these particular clothes?
  2. Why do you think there are so many types of clothes worn in Africa?
  3. How are the African clothes like and different from the clothes children, men, and women wear in your community? In other parts of the United States?


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Suggested Readings

Africa
Yvonne Ayo. Photographed by Ray Moller and Geoff Dann. New York: Knopf, 1995.
Learn about the geography of this vast continent and its people. Did you know that this huge continent is a land of deserts, savannas, mountains, waterfalls, and forests?

Africa
Colm Regan. Austin, Texas: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1997.
Study the countries of Africa and learn their geography, their history, resources, environment, and about the people.

Kenya
Karen Jacobsen. Chicago: Children's Press, 1991.
Would you like to live in Kenya, which is home to more than 40 African tribes as well as people from Asia and Europe? This book will help you learn about this interesting country.

Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions
Margaret Musgrove. Pictures by Leo and Diane Dillon. New York: Dial Press, 1976.
This beautiful book won the Caldecott Medal as the Most Distinguished Picture Book for Children when it was published. Meet the people of Africa and learn about their many cultures.

A is for Africa
Ifeoma Onyefula, Cobblehill Books, 1993.
This Nigerian author’s book of words and pictures shows us the many faces and worlds of African people.

Africa (Eyewitness Books)
Yvonne Ayo, Dorling Kindersley Books, 1995.
Beautiful illustrations and brief descriptions describe life in Africa. Read about the social life and customs, history, clothes, myths, medicine, houses, musical instruments, and food of Africa.

Lions and Tigers and Leopards: The Big Cats
Jennifer C. Urquhart. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1990.
It’s interesting and fun to read about these big cats, but you wouldn’t want a leopard for a pet, would you? Learn about a leopard’s life and habits with this book.

The Leopard’s Drum: An Asante Tale from West Africa
Jessica Souhami. Boston: Little, Brown, 1995.
Read this folktale about Osebo the leopard, who has a beautiful drum that he won’t share with anyone else. Nayme, the Sky-God, offers a reward to the animal who will bring him the drum.

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Links

Africa: Country-Specific Pages
Locate separate pages for almost every African country here. The site leads to maps and other important information.

National Parks in Kenya
No flight over the equator and the surrounding vicinity would be complete without a tour of Kenya’s national parks.

Exhibit Of Artifacts
Shows not-so-well-known examples of Egyptian artifacts. The pictures, along with descriptions, show statues from the Old and New Kingdoms, a loaf of bread, a model granary and a mummy.

Color Tour Of Egypt
Excellent graphics with descriptions of some of the better known historical sites associated with ancient Egypt.

Rosetta Stone
This is a delightful quiz for students, studying ancient Egypt, to use as a very simple self-assessment tool.

Basin Irrigation In Egypt
Provides info on artificial irrigation and has downloadable graphics of feeder canal and river basins.

Tanzania
This is the official web site of the Tanzanian Tourist Board. It features information about the Serengeti and the other beautiful national parks of Tanzania.

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Vocabulary

Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    savannas
Definition:Vast grassland areas.
Context:Cattle-raising tribes tend their herds in southern Africa’s savannas.

speaker    continent
Definition:Any of the main large land areas of the Earth.
Context:Africa is the world’s second-largest continent.

speaker    equator
Definition:An imaginary circle around the Earth, equally distant from the North Pole and the South Pole.
Context:Africa is divided in half by the equator.

speaker    distinctive
Definition:A quality or feature that is unusual or different.
Context:A distinctive feature of Africa is the Great Rift Valley.

speaker    predator
Definition:An animal that feeds on another animal.
Context:The grasslands of this region contain large herds of wild animals, such as elephants… as well as predators that hunt them, like lions and cheetah.

speaker    lush
Definition:Characterized by richness and abundance.
Context:Rain falls on these forests every year, making it a lush and humid home for some of Africa’s large and varied wildlife.

speaker    evolve
Definition:To develop gradually by a process of growth and change.
Context:Scientists believe that the human race evolved here about two million years ago.

speaker    nomads
Definition:People with no permanent home, who move from place to place in search of food or pastures.
Context:The Samburu people are one of the several tribes of nomads.

speaker    muggy
Definition:Hot and damp.
Context:In most places along the equator, the climate is usually hot and muggy.

speaker    papyrus
Definition:A tall, aquatic, Mediterranean sedge, the stems of which were used as material on which to write by ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.
Context:Papyrus is a marshanry that grows up to 15 feet high.

speaker    hieroglyphic
Definition:A system of writing in which pictorial symbols are used to represent meaning or sound, or a combination of the two.
Context:Ancient Egyptians drew hieroglyphics or pictures that became the first written language.

speaker    cinematographer
Definition:A film photographer.
Context:Film cinematographer Hugo Van Lawick filmed a variety of animals in their natural habitats.

speaker    documentary
Definition:A drama showing news events, social conditions, etc., in nonfiction form.
Context:The Leopard Son was a documentary, a true story of a leopard’s life in Africa.

speaker    refuge
Definition:A shelter or protection from danger.
Context:Most of the filming took place in Serengeti National Park, a large wildlife refuge in northern Tanzania.

speaker    ambient
Definition:Surrounding on all sides.
Context:Much of the sounds will be ambient sounds where you are recording all of the plains, not a specific bird.

speaker    score
Definition:A copy of a musical composition showing all parts for instruments or voices.
Context:Composer Stewart Copeland was hired to write the score.

speaker    footage
Definition:Documented events on film.
Context:Hugo would come in and we would go through the footage and he would describe what it was like to be there.

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Standards

This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
 
Grade level:K-2
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands the characteristics and uses of spatial organization of Earth’s surface.
Benchmarks:
Identifies physical and human features in terms of the four spatial elements (e.g., locations [point], transportation and communication routes [line], regions [area], lakes filled with water [volume]).

Grade level:K-2
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands how human actions modify the physical environment.
Benchmarks:
Knows ways in which people depend on the physical environment (e.g., food, clean air, water, mineral resources).

Grade level:3-5
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands the characteristics and uses of maps, globes, and other geographic tools and technologies.
Benchmarks:
Knows the basic elements of maps and globes (e.g., title, legend, cardinal and intermediate directions, scale, grid, principal parallels, meridians, projection).

Grade level:3-5
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands the physical and human characteristics of place.
Benchmarks:
Knows how the characteristics of places are shaped by physical and human processes (e.g., effects of agriculture on changing land use and vegetation; effects of settlement on the building of roads; relationship of population distribution to landforms, climate, vegetation, or resources).

Grade level:6-8
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands the characteristics and uses of spatial organization of Earth’s surface.
Benchmarks:
Understands the patterns and processes of migration and diffusion (spread of language, religion, and customs from one culture to another; spread of a contagious disease through a population; global migration patterns of plants and animals).

Grade level:K-2
Subject area:history
Standard:
Understands selected attributes and historical developments of societies in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe.
Benchmarks:
Knows about life in urban areas and communities of various cultures of the world at various times in their history.

Grade level:3-5
Subject area:mathematics
Standard:
Understands the general nature and uses of mathematics.
Benchmarks:
Understands that numbers and the operations performed with them can be used to describe things in the real world and predict what might occur.

Grade level:3-5
Subject area:science
Standard:
Understands basic features of the Earth.
Benchmarks:
Knows that the Sun provides the light and heat necessary to maintain the temperature of the Earth.

Grade level:3-5
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands how human actions modify the physical environment
Benchmarks:
Knows the ways people alter the physical environment (e.g., by creating irrigation projects; clearing the land to make room for houses and shopping centers; planting crops; building roads).

Grade level:6-8
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Knows the location of places, geographic features and patterns of the environment.
Benchmarks:
Knows the location of physical and human features on maps and globes (e.g., culture hearths such as Mesopotamia, Huang Ho, the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Nile Valley; major ocean currents; wind patterns; land forms; climate regions).

Grade level:6-8
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands the physical and human characteristics of place.
Benchmarks:
Knows the physical characteristics of places (e.g., soils, landforms, vegetation, wildlife, climate, natural hazards).

Grade level:6-8
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands the nature and complexity of Earth’s cultural mosaics.
Benchmarks:
Knows the similarities and differences in characteristics of culture in different regions (e.g., in terms of environment and resources, technology, food, shelter, social organization, beliefs and customs, schooling, what girls and boys are allowed to do).

Grade level:K-2
Subject area:history
Standard:
Understands selected attributes and historical developments of societies in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe.
Benchmarks:
Knows the holidays and ceremonies of different societies (e.g., Christmas celebrations in Scandinavia, Germany, or England; Cinco de Mayo; the Chinese New Year; the Japanese tea ceremony; harvest and spring festivals).

Grade level:3-5
Subject area:history
Standard:
Understands family life now and in the past, and family life in various places long ago.
Benchmarks:
Knows the ways that families long ago expressed and transmitted their beliefs and values through oral tradition, literature, songs, art, religion, community celebrations, mementos, food, and language (e.g., celebration of national holidays, religious observances, and ethnic and national traditions; visual arts and crafts; hymns, proverbs, and songs).

Grade level:3-5
Subject area:history
Standard:
Understands selected attributes and historical developments of societies.
Benchmarks:
Knows the effects geography has had on the different aspects of societies (e.g., the development of urban centers, food, clothing, industry, agriculture, shelter, trade).

Grade level:3-5
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands the characteristics and uses of maps, globes and other geographic tools and technologies.
Benchmarks:
Uses map grids (e.g., latitude and longitude or alphanumeric system) to plot absolute location.

Grade level:3-5
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands the characteristics and uses of spatial organization of Earth's surface.
Benchmarks:
Understands how changing transportation and communication technology have affected relationships between locations.

Grade level:3-5
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands the physical and human characteristics of place.
Benchmarks:
Knows how the characteristics of places are shaped by physical and human processes (e.g., effects of agriculture in changing land use and vegetation; effects of settlement on the building of roads; relationship of population distribution to landforms, climate, vegetation or resources).

Grade level:3-5
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands that culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions.
Benchmarks:
Knows how places and regions serve as cultural symbols (e.g., Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco; Opera House in Sydney, Australia; the Gateway Arch in St. Louis; Tower Bridge in London).

Grade level:3-5
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands global development and environmental issues.
Benchmarks:
Knows human-induced changes that are taking place in different regions and the possible future impacts of these changes (e.g., development and conservation issues in terms of the wetland of coastal New Jersey).

Grade level:6-8
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands the concept of regions.
Benchmarks:
Understands ways regional systems are interconnected (e.g., watersheds and river systems, regional connections through trade, cultural ties between regions).

Grade level:6-8
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Knows the location of places, geographic features and patterns of the environment.
Benchmarks:
Knows the factors that influence spatial perception (e.g., culture, education, age, gender, occupation, experience).

Grade level:K-2
Subject area:behavioral studies
Standard:
Understands various meanings of social group, general implications of group membership, and different ways that groups function.
Benchmarks:
Understands that different groups, societies, and cultures have some similar wants and needs.

Grade level:K-2
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands how human actions modify the physical environment.
Benchmarks:
Knows ways in which people depend on the physical environment (e.g., food, clean air, water, mineral resources).

Grade level:3-5
Subject area:behavioral studies
Standard:
Understands that group and cultural influences contribute to human development, identity, and behavior.
Benchmarks:
Understands that people can learn about others in many different ways (e.g., direct experience, mass communications media, conversations with others about their work and lives).

Grade level:6-8
Subject area:visual arts
Standard:
Knows a range of subject matter, symbols, and potential ideas in the visual arts.
Benchmarks:
Knows different subjects, themes, and symbols (through context, value, and aesthetics) which convey intended meaning in artworks.

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Credit

Diane Hoffman, second-grade teacher, Bel-Pre Elementary, Silver Spring, Maryland.
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