PDF Lesson Plans Out of Africa

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Of course, many Mercator maps can still be found in use by graphic designers, in older classroom materials, and as inexpensive wall maps. Cartographers argue that numerous projections developed since the Mercator projection such as the Robinson and the Goode succeed in achieving a more realistic image without a Europe-centered focus. Thus, timing was everything; many nations of the world had just achieved independence from colonial powers within the previous decade.

Peters, as an accomplished journalist, knew the art of generating publicity. For elementary students in particular to explore the differences between continents, countries, and states, and to teach that size is not a key determinant of whether a place is a state, country, or continent. Depending upon the age level of students, display the poster and pass out the maps Appendix B and explore the following ideas.

Introduction to Africa Lesson Plan for Kids

Before looking at the map, you may want to have students speculate about the relative size of Africa, China, Europe, and the U. The places pictured inside the map of Africa include a continent, two countries, and two states.

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Which are which? Discuss and look at the maps to evaluate whether or not size affects whether places are continents, countries, or states. Are the continents all the same size? Can countries be larger than continents? How big is 11,, square miles? What are other ways you could describe this size?

With what sizes are you familiar so that you can compare easily in your mind how big this is? For example, if you are living in California, how many Californias fit into Africa? Calculate the relative size of various empires at similar times. For example, the Mali empire in the s was the size of western Europe alone. It went from the Atlantic coast to the Niger river, and then included many of the trade towns of the western Sahara desert. Compare this to the Carolingian empire in Europe, the Inca empire, or the Mongol empire that existed around the same time.

Objective: For students to get a sense of relative distances in Africa compared to other continents. Complete the following measurements using a globe or atlas, using the appropriate scale and either string in the case of the globe or rulers in the case of the atlases. They are not necessarily the farthest points but do give a sense of the distances involved. What did Arab e. His greatest dream was to build a telegraph line and railroad from the Cape of Good Hope, in southern Africa, to Cairo, Egypt.

Explore the reasons why such a transcontinental railroad has never been completed in Africa. The rest of Africa includes Mediterranean climate, mountain climate, tropical wet and dry, rainy and mild, and wet and mild.

Key Stage 1

There are over ethnic groups in Africa. This includes Asians, Europeans, and Arabs who have permanently settled there—for centuries, in some cases. There are also many forms of Christianity and Islam, as well as some Hinduism, practiced in Africa. The following crops are only the main ones grown in different regions of Africa. There are many more not listed here. Note the different climate needs for each, and some of the places where these crops are grown.

AFRICA - Teacher Tools

Rice —Grown in sub-tropical climate areas, paddy rice is found in the Nile River delta lands of Egypt, in Madagascar, and in West Africa in coastal mangrove swamps. Wheat —As a traditional crop in North Africa and Ethiopia, these were the main sources of wheat consumed during Roman Imperial times.

Wheat is now also grown in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Kenya, as well as in some irrigated areas of Nigeria. Maize corn —Corn is a widespread crop in Africa, grown in tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate latitudes. Sorghum and Millet —Grown in dry savanna lands, these grains are often the main food crops in many parts of Africa.

Lesson Planning: What is Required?

Root crops —These are widespread throughout the tropics, including the savanna and equatorial lands, and include yams, sweet potatoes, and cassava. Oil palm —A local staple in West Africa which requires hot humid conditions with constant temperatures and heavy rainfall year round. Tea —Tea also requires uniform temperatures year round, though lower than palms, and not as wet—it is often grown in highland areas.


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Introduced as a cash crop in East and Southern Africa, especially Kenya, tea is now also grown in some parts of West Africa. Coffee —Thought to have originated in Ethiopia, coffee thrives in tropical often highland climates 20 degrees N and S of the equator , including in Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. Wine —Grape vines are characteristic of Mediterranean climates, including portions of the South African coast, as well as Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco.

Sugar —Sugarcane is produced in tropical climates. Tobacco —Grown throughout temperate and tropical areas, this product originated in North America, but is produced for export in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Nigeria, and Tanzania. Cotton —Cotton is widely grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions in areas that are rain fed and under irrigation. Egypt and Sudan are the main producers in Africa. Sisal —These trees produce a coarse fiber for making rope or twine. As a drought resistant plant, it can survive without large amounts of water.

Objective: For students to recognize that it is hard to generalize about Africa, because its diversity is great, and each of its 53 countries is unique.


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In many places in West Africa, traditional storytelling is done by a griot—a professional oral historian who has learned the histories and stories of a particular family, from past centuries to recent times, from ancestors. Often in the course of telling the story, the audience is encouraged to interject, which assures the teller that all are still awake. For the benefit of the teacher, the more precise areas are listed in parentheses where possible. You may wish to give them a sense of how many mistakes there are to find.

The important thing is for students to realize that these generalizations may indeed be true of a few places in Africa but they do not represent the whole continent. As I sat down at breakfast this morning, I poured myself a bowl of cocoa puffs and thought of what my geography teacher had talked about in class yesterday. Much of the chocolate we eat is from Africa. My father drove me to school and he, as always, listened to the news on the radio. I heard that in the country of Africa [where? In geography class today we had an African guest speaker.

I asked him why it was always so hot in Africa [where? Kilimanjaro, as well as ice in winter months on the high plateaus of Southern Africa ]. One of my friends said that when her family traveled to Africa [where? Later that day, in science class we talked about nuclear energy and learned that Africa [where? After school, I relaxed in front of the television watching old movies on Nickelodeon and drinking a Coke. I remembered my geography teacher having said that the cola flavor comes from kola nut trees grown in Africa [where?

We decided to sift through popular images of Africa and compare them to the reality of life on the largest continent on Earth. We started with the beginning exercises about the size of Africa and the common portrayals of Africa in popular culture. Do you think of people who live in huts? Do you picture extreme poverty and dirty surroundings?

Solutions for Teaching and Learning

Those are the images commonly used in the media. And Africa does have poor people and slums. Like literally every other continent, except Antarctica. I live in the U. We see homeless people in our area on a regular basis. The Exploring Africa lesson plan makes an excellent point that I had not previously realized. Most of the images of Africa in modern culture are either of animals, nature, or buildings.

The people of Africa are not widely highlighted, unless they are shown looking malnourished or unhappy. When I thought back to my childhood, I realized that this was definitely true when I was growing up. Seeing those pictures over and over can make us feel that life in Africa is miserable for everyone, which is not true. We also discussed the incredible diversity of geography on the African continent.

Here are some of the resources we used for this lesson. Affiliate links are listed below. For details, see our Disclosure Policy. Ready to dive into the royal history of Africa? Get exclusive learning ideas and printables in your inbox when you sign up for our email newsletter! This post is part of the Autumn Hopscotch from the women of iHomeschool Network!

Teaching about Africa

Click below to see the Hopscotch posts from all of our fellow bloggers! We are currently still in Egypt but looking at Africa in that way is so positive. I love the graphic that shows how huge Africa really is. I had no idea, my guess would have been around the same size as North America.